Fiserv’s Tom Eck shares his company’s digital transformation journey and why prioritising developer experience is a must.
The case for app modernization as a key pillar in enterprises’ digital transformation efforts is more evident than ever:
Yet, teams leading digital transformation and app modernisation initiatives face obstacles ranging from inconsistent management to inconsistent ways of building applications and achieving productivity benefits.
“Digital transformation is a broad topic, and it includes cloud migration,” explained Tom Eck, senior vice president of digital transformation for Fiserv, during the “Driving Value at All Stages of Your Modern App Journey” keynote at VMware Explore. Fiserv provides payments and fintech solutions for thousands of financial institutions and millions of people and businesses around the world.
As the leader of an elite software engineering team involved in high-value opportunities and focused on developer experience, Eck believes there are three pieces to making transformation real:
Prioritising Developer Experience
To improve the developer experience, the team first built a unified developer portal across Fiserv. “We have hundreds of API-enabled products, each with hundreds of end points,” Eck explained. “Some had dev portals, some didn't. None looked alike. They all had different credentials, so we wanted to bring it all together.”
For Eck it was an opportunity to build a modern stack. “We did completely cloud-native, API first…completely cloud agnostic,” he said. “We deployed it on one of the major cloud providers—their own container orchestration.” It was a baseline Kubernetes service.
Because one of the project objectives was to avoid using proprietary public cloud services, the team then tried to port it to another popular hyperscale cloud. “That was a little bit of a struggle, but we did get it up running,” he admitted.
Then in about a month, the team ported it to Tanzu Application Platform. “We did it very, very quickly,” said Eck. “What I think was probably most impressive was not just how fast we moved it, but all of the stuff that's included out-of-the-box with the product is amazing—everything from observability and all those kind of things…at the backend are built in. It was a beautiful experience.”
As Fiserv adopted modern apps and microservices, it discovered “force multipliers” in VMware application accelerators imbued with security, observability and more for developer enablement. They helped developers less familiar with microservices get started quickly but safely on the path to production.
“I don't want to have to be worried about the compliance book as a developer. I just want to get my business logic coded and get it out there as fast as I can,” explained Eck. “…so as much red tape and non-fun parts that we automate but also accelerate through patterns is key.”
Best Practices for a Successful Modern App Journey
Products anchor every digital business cloud chaos and cloud smart conversation. In digital companies, software is the product and developers are critical to creating and improving it.
“So, the big question for every digital business is: How do you transition to treating your developers as customers?” asked the VMware Explore Modern Apps session master of ceremonies, Ajay Patel, senior vice president and general manager of the VMware Modern Application and Management Business Group.
“How do organisations set themselves up to make developers productive and how do they put apps at the centre of how they operate and run their businesses?” Patel asked, particularly when IT is challenged by these issues holding their organisations back:
The best practice Patel and VMware advocate is two-pronged: adopt a cloud-native app platform and empower the platform team.
In practice, Patel said, that means “starting to treat the internal platform as a product, like we treat everything else, with the developer being a customer and centring everything—design, build, deploy and manage—around making that application the centre of delivery.”
Successful platform teams automate security and compliance requirements so developers can simply focus on writing business logic and enjoy a streamlined, safe path to production.
VMware Solutions Power Modern App Journeys
VMware delivers two VMware Tanzu solutions that Patel said allow teams “to build applications in an app-agnostic way, abstracting away complexity and simplifying the environment.” They address critical questions organisations on modern app journeys face:
1. VMware FY22 Q4 Executive Pulse, January 2022: https://www.vmware.com/company/digital-first-enterprise-research-insights.html
2. Forrester Consulting and VMware. "The Future of a Secure Multi-Cloud Strategy Will Be Powered by Modern Applications," May 2022: https://cio.vmware.com/2022/08/5-insights-from-our-latest-multi-cloud-research-with-forrester-consulting.html
3. VMware. "State of Kubernetes 2021," June 2021: https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/state-of-kubernetes-survey-2021-benefits-challenges
4. VMware FY23 Q1 Executive Pulse, April 2022: https://www.vmware.com/company/digital-first-enterprise-research-insights.html