Leveraging GCP to Help Enterprises with Digital Transformation

By: Jared Gordon (Head of Financial Services, TribalScale), and Frank Currie (Head of Customer Engineering, Financial Services, Google)…

At a press conference in 1999, Rupert Murdoch told the world that “Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”

This has never been more true than it is today, and a big part of what we do at TribalScale is helping the big become the fast through digital transformation.

TribalScale empowers enterprises to move faster by moving them away from tools and processes that are holding them back. Through the adoption of cloud technologies and cloud-native software development processes, organizations can become lean and nimble.

I recently sat down with Google Cloud’s Frank Currie and Michael Craig to discuss the use of Kubernetes, containerization in enterprise and how these technologies are enabling the next generation of experience creation for financial services.

What is Containerization?

Containerization is essentially the modularization of code. To explain, Frank gave the analogy of a child getting a new toy: They could get LEGO or they could get a truck. With the truck, the toy is already put together in a way that works well, but with the LEGO, they get a lot more options because it’s broken into smaller chunks.

The truck, in this analogy, is monolithic code. It could be modularized in some way, shape, or form, but in general, is very tightly coupled. This means that if you want to adjust a feature, or even patch it, you could affect (or more likely break) the broader product by changing just one line of code.

By moving to a containerized structure, you can easily switch one piece of code for another and the app will continue to function, significantly reducing or eliminating downtime.

Some applications are easier to containerize than others, and sometimes it’s easier to start from scratch and rebuild an application in a modular way than it is to containerize. Just like it would be easier to start with LEGO than to pull the truck apart.

Introducing Kubernetes

Kubernetes is an open source tool, developed by Google, that assists in containerization by handling the scheduling of provisioning of containers across a workload. It also acts as the API interface. Kubernetes expedites application development by allowing developers to drop in code in a fast and efficient manner. Instead of spending their time setting up containers and managing infrastructure, developers can spend their time building applications that drive real business outcomes.

Google is very active in the open source ecosystem. They believe that by working across organizations they will ultimately build better technologies, and with greater velocity. That’s what we’re seeing right now with Kubernetes — people are using it more and more because it’s not just developed for a specific use case.

Kubernetes, along with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), can be a powerful tool for large organizations who are looking for ways to develop and release scalable applications more efficiently.

TribalScale partners with Google because we believe in the technology. We work with many clients whose customers no longer expect to wait 18 months for new releases or features, and moving to a containerized approach is a great way forward for businesses facing slow product turnaround.

TribalScale recently completed an engagement with a large North American insurance provider who had noticed a disintermediation between themselves and their customers for some of their products. Where previously products had been sold by brokers, the focus had shifted towards comparison sites. As a result, the insurance provider was being delisted from some of these sites do to uptime issues with their APIs and quoting software.

In the current landscape, if your business isn’t showing up on these kinds of sites then your customers have no way of finding you. Containerization helped them meet the demands of the comparison sites and got them back in front of their customers.

One of the challenges we see at TribalScale is that when these kinds of companies want to make the jump to containerization, there is a period where time and resources are being expended but are producing no immediately visible business outcomes. The long-term benefits are there, but it can be difficult for stakeholders to see the value right away.

We’ve found that the best way around this is to find a project that is core enough that it will touch most parts of the organization and make a tangible difference to their outcomes, but that is small enough to be dynamic and move quickly.

A great example of this, and one area that we have seen a lot of movement within FIs in North America, is the consumerization of the employee experience. That is, taking those best-in-class practices that you’ll find in the creation of consumer-facing web and mobile experiences to the tools that employees interact with every day.

The benefit of working in this space is that there is a lot more room for forgiveness when it comes to products that your employees are using as opposed to those that your customers use. At the same time, you can still create the kinds of measurable returns on investment, with improvements in productivity and in automation opportunities, that will really drive momentum.

Containerization is crucial to building better software and therefore to remain competitive in today’s market. Kubernetes is essential to helping companies grow and scale their containerization efforts.

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About the author

Jared Gordon is Head of Financial Services at TribalScale who built his career at the intersection of human need and commercial opportunity. He is a trusted advisor to global FIs on their transition from a product-centric world view to a customer-centric worldview and helping FIs create new value for their customers. Jared looks to balance his love of building things that scale, with a mediocre backswing and a love of comic books.

TribalScale is a global innovation firm that helps enterprises adapt and thrive in the digital era. We transform teams and processes, build best-in-class digital products, and create disruptive startups. Learn more about us on our website. Connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook!

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