Companies are being disrupted by smaller, more agile companies that are able to leverage software and better react to the needs of their customers. Some recent examples include Amazon, Uber, Netflix, and AirBnB.

To survive, your company must put software at the center of its business strategy. At the core of this software strategy are open source technologies. However, open source has a few downsides that your strategy should take into consideration. Open source projects like to take the happy path. In other words, an ideal world where everything works and you can function in a self-contained bubble. Unfortunately, as we know all too well, stuff happens in the real world for which we need to be prepared.

Additionally, this journey is difficult as culture and processes become an obstacle to the transformation. It’s important to look at the current skills and have an open dialogue about the digital journey. As with any transformation, you do not just arrive at the final state. It takes lots of planning, training, measurement of successes, and learning from failures. There are specific aspects that your business will need to consider as you prepare for this digital transformation journey.

Preparing for the Journey

Whether you have already started on this journey or are just beginning, there are several aspects that you need to consider for ensuring success.

  1. The most critical aspect is setting the vision and goal of the organization to reach this end state. Over-communicate with your leadership, partners, and customers. Everyone must understand what winning means and to get on board.
  2. It starts with preparing your greatest asset…your people. Break down the vision for the journey and invest in training and process improvements. Look at strengths and weaknesses assessed against the organizational goals to accomplish your vision.
  3. The people and process aspects should not be underestimated. Identifying adequate training, organizing into small functional teams, and starting to go through the actions on a weekly basis are important to becoming a high-functioning team. Metrics on sprint velocity, user stories addressed, and numbers of issues resolved are early indicators of the growth and functioning of the teams. Leverage sprint retrospectives to address any people and process issues early in the journey.
  4. The technology aspects will be easy to spot once the teams are functioning at their highest levels (should only take 4-6 weeks). Looking at the technology choices and getting familiar with them is the first step. As quickly as technology changes, you will need to adopt agile architectural design teams to evaluate the choices quickly. Request for Proposal (RFP) processes are adequate but need to be enhanced to include more hands on demos and evaluations in sprint. Lastly, plan for technology integration with existing tools and identify skill sets needed to be addressed through training or staff augmentation.
  5. Continually improve and optimize performance and scale. Once the basics and some of these underlying issues of the technology are understood, the team can then focus on improvements from a process and technology aspect. Sprints should incorporate user stories to address performance and stability issues.

These 5 areas are just the initial critical aspects for preparing for the journey and they are related to your organization. In addition, you should consider what the role of a community such as open source or partners can play in your transformation.

Understanding the Role of Open Source

When considering this transformation, your organization needs to understand the role of open source technologies and the communities around open source. Open source is at the center of this digital transformation and has been an accelerant in the efforts of many large organizations. One reason for this is around the technology innovation and speed of adoption that a community of developers can deliver in open source. The second reason is around the power of community support and contribution quality. The quality of the code and the rigorous review of the code ensures reliability and production readiness. The last reason I’ll mention is the transparency and openness of the community. The roadmap is open, Pull Requests can be submitted, and acceptance and issues are visible. These reasons have led to the emergence of open source being central to your company’s business strategy. Learn more about how you can leverage open source in my blog post Open Source at Center of Digital Transformation.

Blueprint for Digital Transformation

At Cisco, we are working alongside you in this journey. We are co-developing a blueprint to assist you in the transformation. There has never been a better time to transform together.


The journey to cloud native begins by first understanding the changes required to make the transition to infrastructure as code that enables your developers to move with greater agility and speed. Define the new business services and automate the business processes to accelerate the software development life cycle. Deploy these new business services and continuously integrate and deploy enhancements and new services. Partner closely with the business and gather user stories and issues regularly. Lastly, determine which open source projects are of interest to your business services and which ones you can utilize to differentiate your business through contributing to the project.

Stop by our booth (#11) at KubeCon to learn how Cisco can help accelerate the journey to cloud native, and make container deployments on Kubernetes production-grade. We also have speaking sessions and activities going on away from our booth, including:

  • Opening keynote (5 minutes)
    • Title: The Journey To The Center Of Digital Transformation
    • Date/Time: Tuesday, November 8, 9:45 – 9:50 am
    • Speaker: Ken Owens, Chief Technology Officer, Cloud Native Platforms


  • CloudNativeCon Ops Breakout Session (40 minutes)
    • Title: How to Monitor Application Performance in a Container-Based World
    • Date/Time: Tuesday, November 8, 3:40 – 4:20 pm
    • Speakers: Fabio Giannetti, Principal Cloud Engineer and Ken Owens, Chief Technology Officer, Cloud Native Platforms
    • Location: Aspen Meeting Room


  • Hackathon Session (20 minutes)
    • Cisco is a sponsor of the Hackathon, which takes place on Tuesday, November 8.
    • Talk Title: Production-Grade Networking for Containers
    • Date/Time: Tuesday, November 8, 10:40 – 11 am
    • Speaker: Kiran Kamity, Sr. Director, Container Products, Cloud Platforms and Services Group
    • Location: Cedar Meeting Room


We look forward to seeing you in Seattle!



Kenneth Owens

Chief Technical Officer, Cloud Infrastructure Services