How to get your Enterprise to run like a Start-Up (without compromising your Data Security)
by Diane Mueller

Diane Mueller, June 6, 2012
Private Cloud for Enterprise

For some developers, cloud computing can serve as a gateway drug for developing “shadow” IT projects. This isn’t new: Developers were going rogue long before easy access to computing resources via the cloud. The cloud has just made the potential of corporate risk exposure exponentially greater.

So how do you harness your IT team’s passion and leverage the new agility unlocked by new cloud technologies without risking breaches in security?

In a start-up, the whole ethos revolves around rapid prototyping to test market assumptions, and then using that customer feedback to evolve the design faster than in traditional product development practices. Running "lean" means leveraging technologies and practices that allow you to get your ideas in front of your customers as quickly as possible.

To do this in an enterprise without compromising on governance and compliance, you need to adopt the technology and customer-centric habits of successful start-ups and bring them in-house onto your own secure, private cloud.

Think like an entrepreneur: Bring start-up technology in-house

First and foremost, make use of open-source application stacks. There’s significant growth in the use of open-source languages, databases, and web servers on various Platform-as-a-Service providers. A mindset for open source development is common at (and vital for) start-ups.

In recent years, start-ups have been able to leverage a whole host of great new frameworks, languages, and services all up and down the cloud stack. In particular, data services like Redis, Mongodb, and PostgreSQL have been engineered to deploy, manage, and scale with PaaS. Languages like Ruby, Node.js, Python, PHP, and their associated web frameworks are evolving to meet the demands of deploying to multiple devices and platforms, and are made readily available to developers using PaaS solutions.

PaaS has greatly simplified deployment and scaling. Start-ups can take advantage of public PaaS providers like Heroku or EngineYard to scale on demand and get cloud apps to customers quickly.

Analogously, if you’re an enterprise, you can take a page from the start-up world and add a private PaaS layer to your own private cloud. You gain the same benefits as the start-up running on public PaaS, without the inherent compliance and security risks of the public cloud. Private PaaS enables your developers to rapidly deploy within your governance guidelines and behind your firewall.

When you need to scale applications, your private PaaS can fully automate the process (managing servers, load balancing, storage, etc.) and deliver on the promise of cloud computing within your enterprise.

Listen to your customers: Go agile

The key to enterprise cloud success is building an integrated team that involves product development in a continuous feedback loop with customers. Once private PaaS is in place, your developers can be more agile, and focus on customer-centric rapid iteration (much like a nimble start-up does). By applying agile development methodologies in combination with PaaS, you can dramatically reduce waste and unlock creativity in a product development team.

Private PaaS lets you can harness your dev team’s energy towards a constructive, customer-focused goal. That agility is best practice—whether you’re an enterprise or a startup—without the relinquished control inherent in a public-cloud IT outsourcing model. (And truth be told, once start-ups reach maturity, they tend to outgrow their public cloud and bring applications behind the firewall…with a private PaaS.)

Start acting like a start-up today, test drive Stackato, harness your developers' passion and remember to iterate, iterate, iterate!

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Diane Mueller is a Cloud Evangelist at ActiveState. She has been designing & implementing financial applications at Fortune 500 corporations for over 20 years. Diane has been actively involved in development efforts of XBRL Open Standard ( since 1999.