IBM Cloud Garage: The Journey from Startup to Enterprise Scale

By: Chinh Vo

As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the IBM Cloud Garage, it’s astonishing to consider how much has changed during my journey with the Cloud Garage from its infancy to where it is today.

I remember fondly the energy and dedication of our small team of developers, designers, and architects working together in a small space within a vibrant startup community in downtown San Francisco. During this time, we supported startups and innovation teams within large enterprises to start their journey with cloud-native approaches while adopting the new IBM Public Cloud Platform (called Bluemix during its launch). It’s amazing to consider how far both the Cloud Garage team and the IBM Garage Method has grown, as I reflect while on my flight to the west coast of North America to support two large enterprises in Los Angeles and Seattle by utilizing the same core principles that were conceived back in 2014.

The early years

I began my journey with the Cloud Garage team as an Architect working with some of IBM's best technical leaders, such as Rachel Reinitz, Kyle Brown, and Roland Barcia. During these early years, I was working directly with customers who were early adopters of the IBM Cloud Platform. This was really a formative stage of both the IBM Cloud Platform and the IBM Cloud Garage team. I’ve always been a student of agile practices and continuously improving how you approach development, ever since I joined the Rational Unified Process development team at Rational Software. However, my many years of experience did not prepare me for how much the IBM Cloud Platform development team and the new IBM Cloud Garage team internalized the startup mentality to their everyday responsibilities.

IBM Cloud Garage

It was such an invigorating atmosphere to be able to directly communicate with the platform team with issues or even enhancements that could be deployed within weeks, and sometimes even days. This was quite a departure from my previous role leading a traditional product development team within IBM, where we were pushing the bar with major releases every six months and minor releases every two months.

IBM Cloud Garage

The early projects and experiences gained with our customers allowed the Cloud Garage team to codify and validate practices from Design Thinking, Lean Startup, Extreme Programming, and DevOps into a comprehensive and prescriptive approach that allow customers to quickly adopt cloud technologies and show business outcomes in a matter of weeks.

IBM Cloud Garage

 

The IBM Garage Method was borne, and with it in the hands of our talented team, the foundation was set for the next phase of our journey.

The accelerate growth phase

The Cloud Garage practice started to experience an amazing growth phase as we closed out 2016 and entered 2017. The practice grew from four worldwide locations in North America and Europe to 11 locations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific by the end of 2017. During this growth period, we encountered different challenges as we worked with enterprises to scale their cloud-native and hybrid cloud applications or capability to adopt the Cloud Garage approach within their organization. These enterprises had common challenges and questions on how to apply the Cloud Garage approach at scale:

  • How can we apply this approach in an industry with regulatory or compliance constraints?
  • Our release process to production is extremely controlled. How can this approach work in that context?
  • How does this approach scale to work with teams of 50? 100? 1000s? How do we build skills?
  • How does this approach work with distributed or offshore development teams?

These questions became the focus as we started to expand the method and the team structure to support this growth phase of the Cloud Garage practice.

One of the major capabilities established to focus on enterprise scalability was codifying the client-proven architectures into the IBM Cloud Architecture Center. This focused effort ensured the IBM Garage Method scaled to address enterprise constraints, such as regulatory and compliance requirements, while still maintaining the startup mentality and agile practices.

Enterprise scale

During the last couple years, we have been applying the IBM Garage Method at a variety of large enterprises—from large financial institutions in Asia Pacific to well-established enterprises like American Airlines and Hertz in North America. The IBM Garage team was able to harvest and apply architecture, team organization, and practices from the IBM Garage methodology at enterprise scale. This has led to the natural evolution of the IBM Garage approach to the IBM Cloud Innovate Method.

Since mid-2018, Christopher San Soucie (one of the original leaders of the Cloud Garage practice) and I have led the process of creating a capability for delivering the IBM Garage Method at scale within the larger IBM Services organization in order to drive the next phase of growth for the IBM Garage concept. Working closely with the IBM Cloud Garage practice, this new capability helps harden and scale the IBM Garage practices within domains such as hybrid cloud, multicloud, chaos engineering, cloud migration, and distributed agile teams as we deliver large-scale, enterprise Garage projects.

The past five years with the IBM Cloud Garage have been some of the most rewarding of my life as I celebrate my 20th year with IBM this month. I look forward to collaborating and sharing all of my new experiences with customers, the worldwide technical communities, and my incredible IBM colleagues during the next five years.

This blog is a part of a series celebrating the fifth anniversary of the IBM Cloud Garage. 

To learn more about the IBM Cloud Garage, find our story, resources, and method here. If you would like to see how the IBM Cloud Garage can help your business, schedule a cost-free, four-hour virtual visit with us. We’d love to help you turn that idea into a reality.

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