Applications Platforms: Build Vs Buy

When I talk to customers and industry people, one question that comes up frequently is about whether one should build or buy their application deployment platform. This is also due to industry chatter about Netflix platform and other stories about how some of the modern startups build their platforms from the ground up.

Many executives wanting to build a modern IT platform in their organization seem to face the dilemma of whether they should go about building the platform from scratch or buy a standardized platform like OpenShift, in order to maximize their innovation potential. This is definitely a very important question, but the talk in the industry is doing very little to clear the air.

There is no doubt that every organization, big or small, need to modernize their IT and make IT part of the core innovation team. But the question remains about the path the organization should take in order to revamp their IT platform for the modern needs. Modern web companies like Netflix built their own platform from scratch.

There could be many reasons for their decision and I don’t want to second guess them in this post. However, I do want to point out that many of these companies had unique needs and, at the time they were building their platforms, infrastructure as a service was more mature and the next generation platform as a service offerings were in their early stages.

Most enterprises don’t have the unique needs of companies like Netflix, and there is no reason for them to build a platform from scratch. Moreover, modern day platforms like OpenShift are built using standardized components, like Docker and Kubernetes, and are well positioned to meet the enterprise needs to build cloud native Microservices based architecture.

Build Vs Buy Decision

Every CIO confronting this dilemma should consider the following questions, and their answers will help them decide whether to build the modern IT platform from scratch, or just buy a modern platform like OpenShift to maximize their innovation potential.

  1. Is building apps your core competency and critical business need or building platforms?
    If you want to give your developers a modern platform to deploy the apps needed for your business and not spend time building a platform or tweaking it to fit their needs, buying a platform like OpenShift is the smart way to go.If you want to use your operations to focus on maintaining a reliable modern IT platform for your developers than spending their time architecting and building a platform from scratch, buying a platform like OpenShift makes complete sense. Not only the buy decision frees up the Operations team to run a modern IT platform reliably, it also free them up to operate at scale in a more efficient manner.
  2. Do you want to maximize the benefits of DevOps?
    Then, you need to remove not just the friction from the tools developers and operations use but also remove any potential for errors that could completely disrupt the DevOps culture you are building inside your organization.Clearly, the abstraction and standardization at the platform level streamlines your delivery pipeline and maximizes the DevOps benefits inside your organization. Any decision to build a platform from scratch may result in sub optimal DevOps benefits.
  3. As organizations embrace Microservices architecture in their quest to maximize the benefits of IT modernization, it adds another layer of challenge to IT.
    With hundreds of thousands of Microservices inside the IT environment, the operations team will be required to effectively manage the governance of these services.
    When there is more complexity in the higher order services, it is important to minimize complexity in the underlying infrastructure so that IT operations are used more optimally.An abstraction at the platform layer and a standardization at a higher layer than infrastructure components, will minimize the underlying infrastructure complexity and helps free up IT resources to manage the governance of the higher order microservices.

    A decision to build the IT platform will add complexity underneath due to lack of higher order standardization. Buying a modern IT platform like OpenShift can help simplify the underlying components and aid IT in effectively manage the Microservices.

Summary

Yes, building the platform will make sense for certain organizations that operate at very high scale and/or have unique needs but for every other organization, buying a standardized platform like OpenShift is the smart way to go.

A platform like OpenShift helps IT be part of the core innovation team inside the organization than the gatekeeper who always add roadblocks to innovation.

Is your modern enterprise journey focussed on making IT part of the core innovation team?
If your answer is yes, you should be buying a platform like OpenShift to jump start your modernization process.

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