EP 12: Review of the Latest Customer Trends in EA and Cloud Native w/ Christian Richter

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Enterprise architecture requires understanding your customers to give them a competitive edge.

In this episode of Unleash IT, host André Christ speaks with Christian Richter, LeanIX Senior Vice President of Customer Success.

Christian shares his insights on EA trends among LeanIX customers including:

  • How mapping the business strategy and objectives builds a bridge between the business and IT
  • Why the LeanIX business transformation module helps EAs with long-term architecture roadmap planning
  • The importance of an ecosystem approach using an integration API

    To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to the Unleash IT Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

And that's why we want to come up with an even easier way to integrate, so with the integration API, the complexity is minimized. Welcome to unleash it, a podcast where we discuss the experiences and ideas behind what's working in enterprise architecture and digital transformation within the IT landscape. Unlock Your Business has digital capabilities. Transform your enterprise architecture. Unleash it. Let's get into the show. Welcome to this episode of unleash it. My Name is Andre I'm the cofounder and CEO of Lena X. on today's show, I'm excited to have Christian with us. He is the SVP customer success at Lena X. Christown, welcome. Could you please explain a bit more who you are and what you do at Len x? Yes, welcome from my side, so I'm really happy to be here. I'm basically joined the company four years ago, heading customer success, making sure that our customers adopt our product well and make you the all best practices. So in the time of no UN boarded with the team of over two hundred fifty customers and happy to share some insights today. That fits very well into the topics we would like to talk about today. We will talk about the top customer topics we've seen in our customer base in the last three months. We would speak about some of the product feature and, especially, as we have Christian here, understand what it means for the customers in the architecture and in the cloud native space. And last but not least, we will talk a bit about the outlook what to expect in the next year as new functionalities len x. So let's get going and talk about the top customer topics, because you and can you give us an overview? What were the top five top topics you've seen our customers have dealt with? Yeah, of course. So it's been an exciting year and also a very exciting quarter so far. So, looking back at the last months, what I've seen our customers focusing on this is basically five topics. So first one would be apparitionalization. I mean it's a it's a typical use k three as really making use the EA practice and like creating value and having impact on the bottom line. Second one would be strategy and business objectives mapping. So it's basically building the bridge between business and it and creating a better understanding on both sides. Third one would be focus on to be architectures. EA has a long term focused on as is architectures, but we see in our customer base a shift towards focusing on the on the to be and laying out scenarios. And so the fourth one would be around automated discovery. To E A, for for such sometime has been a rather manual effort, and we see that the e discipline, the a tool, becomes integrated an ecosystem where automated discovery place a crucial role. At last, but not least, performance. So it's all about usability and creating a good, good experience for users who...

...are working within the eight work so this is something where we've had great discussions and seen progress with our customers. Let's focus a bit about on the first topic, and I think this overview is great to see the variety of topics our architects are dealing with. Can you share with more what are the specific needs in an APP rationalization, as it has been a topic where EA has dealt with for a long time. So why is it important now? Yeah, so we've done a survey basically shortly after the the pandemic started, and what we've seen is that a personalization became the major use case for a lot of our customers, and this was there was a need for companies to realize short term cost reduction, of course, because revenues were declining and there was a high pressure on the on the cost side, and software costs are like a high cost factor in in the it spent. And what we saw that company priorities obviously shifted, and and so did the usage of certain applications and also the criticality for some applications. It meant that you wanted to just keep the lights on and keep them going, whereas in terms of four time, the Labor resources need to be refocused and and this also meant to potential for application rationalization in there. And what we've seen in that and looking through through all the implementations that customers have, is that that one model was widely applied by our customers, which is which is the time model by gardener. So this is a mechanism to evaluate the the whole application portfolio in a structured process and we're happy to see that this has found its way into into nags and our companies started building their application rock maps based on this. Thank you, I think that that that's a great overview of this first topic, but I guess it's probably not been the only change to the agenda of the architects right now. So where there other areas you've seen architects being involved right now? Yeah, it's been also mentioned in our surveying and all the the upcoming conversations after that that business continued to management became a major topic and enterprise architects were involved with a with a seat on the table that in decisions around business continue to management. So, for example, in the service management use case we had some customers still in the process of introducing service management tools, so they were not far ahead. Still, there were users who are asked which applications can they continue to use or how can they request the certain applications, and this, in the beginning of the year, led us to the to the idea to come up with a self service portal, so a lean mechanism to show the the repository within the next to a broader audience in an easily accessible format, which which is the self service portal, and trigger workflows from there.

So this helped to drive the the business continuity use case but also, obviously the service management use case that Ya's got involved. That is great to hear that there's a very tangible impact. A big topic which we often hear is EA. Is Not only about looking at the ASS is, but it's also a topic on understanding. How can you translate the strategy and map the business objectives, and can you share a bit what is the topic within our customer base right now? So I believe for every enterprise architect, business capability is a well known concept, also in the I t world, but if you look at the business side, business capabilities are hardly rarely understood and and also accepted and adopted. So this this was mainly due to a criticism that business capabilities and business objectives were not linked. What we saw in our customer base already a year ago, longer than a year ago, that customers were trying to help themselves and extended our meter model towards a business objectives, towards strategies, and we've listened very closely in in that time, which in the end let us to launching of of a module which is the the business transformation module and basically productizing some of the ideas and input that our customers said, putting in an own vision to that and I'm really happy to see that, although we only launched a late September, we already have ten percent of our customer base who are already using this new functionality in in their production or send box environments, and so far we've really received good feedback from the customer base that this helps to bridge the business and the IT Wault and do the drill down from a strategy and a business objective down to the technology architectures that our customers are dealing with and so showing the whole enterprise architecture. Can you explain a bit how the closer link between business objectives and capabilities adds real value? Yeah, so we saw it in the last quarter. I mean it's, it has been the the time of budget planning and it was the time to say what are the the IT budgets, the project budgets for twenty twenty one, and that these are, in our customer base, multimillion Euro Project Budgets that need to be allocated. So and making sure that these project budgets get allocated according to business objectives and not due to some ideas. That has been seen as a major value. Great. We've touched a little bit on the topic of to the state of an architecture. Can you go a bit deeper there? As we all know that architecture is often focused on add the asses only, but where the value of a to be architecture lies? So the as is the architecture is the starting point in an enterprise architecture journey and in maturing and enterprise architecture practice, and this is where I would recommend, and...

...have always recommended all of our customers to start their journey so to to build the solid foundation. But we've, I mean we are now in the business for quite some years. We've seen customers who have built that as estate and who are now focusing on how will that landscape it develop? And the to be architectures are definitely not a not a linear around. So they are multiple, partly conflicting scenarios and plans that need to be discussed, compared evaluated. And I also truly believe that the time of three to five year plans for enterprise architecture that's over. In a in a time where things really changed rapidly, and certainly not only due to the pandemic situation, we've for this to be architectures we've seen a lot of scenarios where customers are using that. So that one could be cloud transformation, so moving from a data center centric vault into to a cloud center world, or it's huge Europe transformations. It could also be make up eye decisions for or certain applications and platforms, and we we are discussing all those topics around to be architectures with our customers, and especially on the SAP. As for Hannah Transformation, we've received very good, good feedback. It's it's highly complex in terms of dependencies that you have internally, cause the monolith are well integrated into the into the IT landscapes, as well as from pendencies from sap when when a certain module is available on the new platform and so on. So this all needs to be taken into care consideration for the for the go life for one of our customers. And Yeah, this is where where we seem to be architectures in really adding value to to break down the monolith and see also where you can carve out like the noncore capabilities with a rather best of greed approach, rather than building a new monolith. Again. You talked about the as for Hannah transformation and there's certainly a focus on it, as our customer base is a lot of them are sap centric. But what's the pressure behind it in terms of the timeline? So can you, can you share a bit bit how urgent it is perceived in our customer base right now? Yeah, yeah, I've spoken to quite some of our customers and when you read the the statements from sap earlier this year that that sap business sweet seven or earp is you for phase out in two thousand and twenty seven, which has been extended already. That was the news at the beginning of the year, this dog creates a pressure in our customer base and the SAP environs are mostly the most complex environment, that platform that our customers have, with those internal and external dependencies, mostly over multiple countries that are customers are dealing with. And this this makes it really necessary...

...to lay out the the to be architecture and see how this migration from today's is Aprerp Walt can happen into an SPS for honor world. That totally makes sense and I think it confirms that a lot of the companies are on their journey. They have still not finished it. So there's there's a strong need to actually make sure that those transformations really get executed successfully. One of the topics we often hear when we when we speak with our customers, is like, how do I maintain all the data in EA? So no question that architecture management is super important and relevant, but you actually need to keep track of all the updates and changes to the landscape. So can you share a bit? The fourth topic you've identified all the mad it discovery is super appealing. Obviously. What is behind that and how are our customers thinking about it right now? We always believed in ecosystem approach and believe that the at will should be an information hub between several it disciplines. So it's basically the, in all believe, the core of an like it for it framework. And if you look at it from a user perspective, you don't want to do manual or duplicates data inputs into the system. So this should be avoided the amore possible and and rather benefit from from external data sources, to just give some example. So the service now integration is something that we've invested in over the last two and a half years heavily to not like recreate any CMDB data in the a too, but really make use of the of the relevant data that has been discovered on a service now site and that can easily be integrated. We also see it for CIICD pipelines and hyperscalar integrations with a WS, with Microsoft is jure, with Google blog cloud platform to generate the data for the technology architecture in a like automated discovery way. So we are not believing that this data can or should be handled with with excel in any way, especially when it comes to two links, then to the to the applications and so on. So this is where I believe automated discovery is really crucial and integration is crucial, and I'm really happy to see that over twenty five percent end of the NIX customers already integrate within an external solution, either we are one of our out of the box integrations, like service now, like a Signalvio, like up to you, or through the integration API. A further significant share of our customers are also using our graph gl API and rest apis. So we see and that that roughly one third of our customers is using the e to or not in a not in the stand alone way, but really following that that ecosystem approach. Can you share a bit what's the advantage...

...when switching over from a graph Q or Rest Api to what we call the integration API? So what's in for customers? How do they who they get value out of it? We always believed in in open apis making that accessible for our customers, documenting it well so that it can be easily used. Still, we felt that there's an enablement necessary to make use of our graph gl and points of our arrest API, and that's why we want to come up within even easier way to integrate. So with the integration API, the the complexity is minimized because of the developer doesn't have to to understand the the x data model anymore. Also, the bappling logic that was previously built into code can now be defined an adjacent format in the integration API, and we provide a much better error handling and event transparency and show everything that happens through the integration API in the dinaix thing block in the tool so that you can the the the user or at me can always identify which integrations are running. What were the updates that were happening through it. where? Where do the do and where and how do errors get handled? So this was definitely a huge advantage for our customers. All right, good thinking about their last topic, you mentioned performance, the USABILITY. Where this that this topic sit on the list of our priorities, that our customers and what was driving them to have that criticality? Perhaps I should have mentioned it first week because obviously it's on my number one agenda to to have a great user experience and for our customers. In place and as a company, we are building our market position on high usability, on collaboration, on the ecosystem approach, and this requires a high performance system. So you want, or we want, to make sure that it's the the navigation is smooth, that things happened fast, that reports open fast, that, if you filter, that goes fast. You basically that you you have a career in mind and you find an easy and fast way to your result. We also see that relating to the automated discovery points. We are getting more and more data into nates from external sources and we are on we also see more complex calculations, be architectures. As I said, it's not a it's not a linear route. They are like complex dependencies, that that are mapped out, that are calculated, and this puts a challenge on on two performance and we we see that and and have started working on that. In addition, two thousand and twenty has been been a year where we've migrated our infrastructure from from a German provider, Strato, to to Microsoft Azure, and this the main motivation behind this was to drive enterprise readiness in terms of creating redundancies and creating tail over locations. So this was...

...very important to make our our application even even more available. But we also saw that that we needed to improve some certain things in to make it smoother user experience for our customers. So we improve the the UPLANDS game, not only in terms of like features like the time slider that our customers, for example, now left and right attributes, but also to optimize it for speed, and I mean performance. I believe is a topic that will keep us busy in in two thousand and twenty when, in in the mid term, we want to change the quy logic to for inventoring reports to in memory to really be able to handle the large data amounts and come nex calculation even faster. As I said, I believe this is a number one differenti ETA that we want to continue to build on that. You know, EGS is too easy to use, that gives you the right results in a in a fast way. Yeah, I think this is a this is a very good segwuay, in looking back a bit on what were the functionalities which we put on our roadmap some while ago and delivered in the last three months. So I would like to pick your brain a bit on how customers and users an e a can can actually extract value from from those, those new functionalities. And if I look back in the last three months, so my list of key topics is actually number one, differential view in landscapes. The second one is the launch of our BTM module, which you have discussed a bit before. The third topic is the complete overhaul of our portfolio reports. The fourth topic is relation fields in the inventory and and my my number five to see your actually improved web books and integration API. So I'd like to step through them, Christian, with you a bit and understand what is in there. So, if we look at the first topic, the differential view and application landscape, so now you have this convenient time slider where you can look like in a time machine at your landscape at any point in time. You can visually compare two points in time, which is, from a functionality perspective, super attractive. But now, if you're an architect, where can you put it to work? Where does it really help you? First of all, the application landscape. I would say that's the major report that we also used from the see from from our statistic that our customers use. So this is the number one e a report and I believe with with what we've done and and where we've enriched the functionality with the timelider, time slider, it gives you a possibility to do apprationalization even easier because you easily see what applications do I have an in place today, what will be in place in the end of next year? What's the Delta between the two of them? So easily see that. Where where do I get new new applications that might be counter productive...

...to my to my goal for apportionalization, and I mean that's already the later part of a rationalization. When you know what what you want to do, but also when you like, can do the evaluation much easier. You put like attributes, certain attributes that help you in the evaluation and you have the full picture of your up landscape. In one point that we've seen that as a major driver for for like also driving the early stages of the appersonalization process and definitely post murder integration projects, where it's all about how do you get two companies together? How does the like the Portfoli you look today and in terms of capabilities, in terms of applications, and how does that evolve over time, because you see their dependencies on contracts running on both sides. It depends on the strategy. If you take the winner takes at all strategy or the best of both worlds. So there are the multiple dimensions to it where this differential of you that you mentioned helps our customers. That's great to hear. If we switch to the launch of the BTM module, with with with that new module, we add it basically three new capabilities, the objective modeling, transformation and road my planning and the impact and scenario modeling. So it's literally like modeling the changes like with you, doing code in Github, like in branches, and then visualizing the impacts like with a time machine. So these are the analogies I'd like to use here. Can you explain in a simple example how you use those capabilities, for example in in in a cloud transformation program so where? How do you put that to work? Actually? So, I mean cloud transformation is a great example and reflects a lot more our customers are currently doing. So it starts with a cloud readiness evaluation. This is the like the number one step that that builds your baseline. But from then on it's you apply concepts like the the six R concept, like rehosting, refactoring and so on, where you determine a strategy for each of the applications and and obviously this this gives you a certain scenarios for the future and you want to see and model these these changes for every application, like do you do you emerge to applications and at which point of time? How does the the criticality change? How does also related to to to GDP are? What does it mean in terms of which applications will handle which kind of data? So these are like complex things that you can that you can look at in a very easy way through BTM, because you basically map it out and a when what that's what we see with customers in a workshop style and...

...then have a knowledge base that that allows you to move through through a scenario of cloud transformation from day one today till till the day that most of the applications will be moved to your preferred club provider. If you think about reporting capabilities, BTM has already introduced a number of new functionalities and but we've gone back and actually now leveled up or portfolio reports. So, for example, you can actually now add new access by by a just configuring what you will actually display in this portfolio report. You can display different metrics in in the portfolio report. You can apply also the transformation plans of which we've introduced with with btm you can visually compare two points in time. Just very similar to what we've talked about a minute ago and a whole better you act with it. So again, here nice functionality, but what is in for customers? So what comes to your mind as the the big benefit here? So the pot for your report today is the number three reports. As I said, application landscape is number one report. And let me do one prediction. I believe the for your report will be in about two or number one throughout two and twenty one, because I believe with with what has been extended, we addressed a lot of the rather shortcomings of the past, and it could only be in the past we could only lay attributes with four values on the excess. This is needed some some extension, and I believe now it gets it's a true meaning and a true impact for application rationalization by focusing more on constitative values and really laying laying this out and looking at it from even from the type perspective. So bring it together with betm. I believe these are a lot of like great things come together with this new portfolio report and, as I said, I believe this support will increase in significant to drive the the the right decisions in two thousand and twenty one. Yeah, I believe it's probably also one of those reports where you can very powerful this plaim to senior management how a landscape looks like, how put fol you looks like. So there's a there's there's there's a lot more where enterprise architects can actually communicate what what the portfolio is looking like today and where it's going in the future. So I completely share share your view here. One of the topics we often hear, obviously, is how you can analyze the data better. So one functionality we've introduced is the relation fields in the inventory, so you can actually, for you can no longer actually only look at one object type but combine it with it, with with a second one by also adding the attributes and and listing that. Please make it a bit more tangible for for all of us. What new curious are actually now possible with this functionality and why you need them as an architect. Yeah, so, listening to our customers,...

...we found out that a lot of data are still got exported to excel and then got analyze there, and we asked why is that the case? And the number one reason here was that the fields on relations were missing. And to give you some examples where the still or this is the case in no application application ownership. So is an application owned or just use by a certain part of the organization? or The costs for applications and that components that's in our datome little also sitting on the relation between the application and the at component. So it was rather hard to maintain, hard to to visualize, hard to get out and out of the system and in the system and and last but the least, where we in the standard data model make use of. This is when you think about certain I t components and if they are a standard for for a tech category. So what's the the relational database that we want to use? And these kind of things can now easily be brought into the system, analyzed and yeah, so I'm really happy as an advocate for customers here, that this is now like has come out as a major improvement. We've touched on a number of topics now which immediately have business value for the users. But there's one topic in there in my list of the last quarter which is probably more in the technical site. Improved Web Hooks and integration API. So you can now, for example, configure a technical user as the run up, as the person who's running the web hook, or you can actually in the Integration Api you can process at the same time inbound and outbound data. Why is that? Why is that relevant, Castan? So why? What's in their fore? Customers may be very short just from from your insight. So I mean you mentioned the technical user, although that's longer than three months ago. I think I see that as a as a major improvement towards enterprise readiness. I believe that's that has been trucial to not have individual persons running the the web boos or running the integrations, and especially on the integration API. We what we improved in the last three months is that you can now, within the processor, define or make use of data that's already in the units, transformed and then basically loaded back to the NEX, and you don't need to run a lumber function or and as a function to do that. You can simply do it from within the NICS. Perfect. Let's think about for a few minutes about what's coming next. So, if I think about some of the key road map items for the the first quarter of two thousand and twenty one, what comes to my mind is thinking about a new report navigation, our Bi integration, two systtems like power bi or...

...tableau, the performance in reports as a topic, Btm for many more reports, like the Matrix and, of course, helping companies with cloud tagging and microservice cataloging. So if we just go very quick through through those five key topics which are part of our road map for the next quarter, if you have this one single pitch, why that Road Map item is something our prospects or customers should look out for. What what would that be? So let's let's focus on the new report navigation. What's what's in there from your point of view? Yeah, so launched a year ago. We learned a lot of our customers use it. We've listened and I believe with the new report navigation that we launched, it will be even much easier to access the the right reports for power users, but especially also for users that are new to Lens and new to the reporting section. If we think about the BI integration, taking data outside of the Nax has always been a core capability, but why is it so needed to actually now connect to the BI systems? Do you have like a use case in mind where where that's where that's super important? Yeah, our customers are very skilled in using tools like power by like top low, and we want to enable them to like use these skills to combine the units data with data from other systems, financial systems, for example, or to to use and the data in the Nix even in a more flexible way. We've seen custom solutions around that, but we believe coming up with better support you from our and we'll make the dog easier for our customers. Let's talk about performance. You've touched on it already in your look back on this quarter. Where do you see the biggest impact with the performance improvements? Yeah, I believe. I mean landscape and Mar twix reports. Will See major improvements here when it comes to are calculating the scenarios and calculating the impacts from the from the scenarios. So I believe this will will be a good, good progress and will start the journey here and prepare for in memory so that that this gives gives the boost. And I think you're touching out so on. On the other item, applying BETM for more reports. So we've talked in length about the landscape, where you can actually project to the future the changes. We're applying similar ideas now to our matrix reports. I'd like to last but the least, talk a bit about cloud tagging and and the microservice catalog which we're having us are on our road map as two big new capabilities we're adding to our products. If you think about cloud tagging, what do you see as issues right now in our customer base? Yeah, cloud tagging needs a strategy and otherwise it's like free tagging and it you can't get the relevant information out of it and this is the the basis, the analytical basis to get to get insights into what you've deployed with with hyperscalers.

And it's around cost, it's around fonsibilities is it's around slas that are tied to to certain systems, it's it's a about the linkage to the to the business side. So this all needs to be defined in an in cloud taking strategy and we want to help our customers here, to to help these with their cloud taking. The other topic we are thinking of for for q one especially, is to provide a microservice catalog with deep integrations into CICD platforms like github or Jenkins or get lab. How do you see that evolving? Do you also share the view that more and more of our customers actually increasing their share of own software development and and do you think it will help them maintaining the visibility of what they are all building in their in their landscapes? Yeah, so the microservice catalog, or microsovice and tablet is probably a move out of the pure ceil domain also a bit in on the on the product a t site. It also supports the the breaking down of the model is into into microservices and what we want to do here, and we see that with with a lot of our customers, that what was one application in the past is multiple microservices in the future. You want to make sure that they get reused, they get understood, they get and nobody wants to maintain this information in a vnual way. So I believe it's the right step to capture that information from the CCD Pipler, Great Cass and I think that was a fantastic and and especially also deep inside in connecting some of the things you see in our customer base, some of the functionality we have on our road map or we have delivered recently. We believe it always makes sense to, yeah, think, think about what is actually the value for for the user, for the Admin, for the company, for the business in all those functionalities and I was really excited to have you on this show to look back on those three months and now I'm actually really looking forward to repeat this conversation in the future so we can share what we see, what our architects are dealing with and how some of the developments we're doing at len x come together. So thank you so much for sharing that in all this detail. Yeah, looking forward to to another conversation with you, Christen. Yeah, thanks, I'm very thanks for having me and also looking forward right good bye. Bye. Everyone you've been listening to unleash. I T to ensure that you never miss an episode. Subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about enterprise architecture and tools to help unleash your businesses digital capabilities, visit lean ix dotnet. Thank you so much for listening. Until...

...next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (24)