Published: June 4, 2021
On June 3, 2021, the Atlantic Canada tech accelerator, Propel, hosted a webinar featuring CENGN’s own Shawn Kahandaliyanage, Director of Customer Solutions Engineering (CSE), and Alex Edwards, Business Engineering Manager.
The event focused on CENGN’s experience working with Canadian tech start-ups and scale-ups over the last few years and the lessons learned from the 100+ product commercialization projects conducted.
In the last five years, CENGN has delivered over a hundred projects with Canadian small and medium enterprises (SMEs), providing access to the network infrastructure and expertise businesses need to test and validate promising technology. These technologies stem from the most promising fields in digitization and automation, including Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity, and cloud applications.
To kick off the event, Alex explained CENGN’s role in supporting these organizations. By providing the services to remove barriers to innovative product commercialization and accelerate Canadian companies’ global market growth, CENGN is solidifying Canada’s leadership in the networking sector. This creates a thriving innovation economy and enables our country’s economic strength and prosperity through innovation and competitiveness in this high-growth global multitrillion-dollar industry.
Following Alex, Shawn talked lessons learned on scaling tech products for growth and the path to follow when developing a solution dependent on a cloud application.
The Road to Maximizing Business Growth
From the dozens of commercialization projects conducted at CENGN, 85 percent focused on scalability. Shawn stated that most SMEs already have a working product offering and a solid customer base but commonly struggle to grow their product’s capabilities with the projected growth in customers or to make their product viable for large enterprise deployment.
Thus, it is crucial to make sure your company’s product can meet current and future business demands. Shawn suggests that a 12- to 18-month period is the sweet spot for forecasting business growth and that these predictions need to be a roadmap for adequately designing and augmenting the product.
The most common method of forecasting growth is calculating the application concurrency, or how many users are predicted to be actively using the application at one time. A key metric for this is the average user sessions per day, the timeframe in which they typically happen, and the average user session duration. These three elements lead to the application’s number of concurrent user sessions. By scaling these numbers up, a company can have a clearer picture of the future infrastructure requirements of their product.
Most start-ups are stuck in the minimum viable product (MVP) stage. An MVP is a product with enough features to attract early adopters, which helps the product team receive user feedback as quickly as possible to improve.
Over the years, CENGN has learned that most start-ups in the MVP stage typically won’t have scalability challenges due to low concurrency. However, to ensure future success, preparing for scale is vital. One major step in this direction is adopting a cloud-native approach early on.
Cloud-Native Approach versus a Monolithic Design: When to Make the Change?
Throughout the presentation, Shawn highlighted that there is nothing wrong with the traditional monolithic design for a software program – as long as the application is simple. A monolithic application is single-tiered, and the user interface and data access code are combined into a single program from a single platform. Thus, it is self-contained and independent from other computing applications.
It is easy to build, test, deploy, troubleshoot, and scale with a simple application. However, given its block design, implementing new features can be challenging, and minor code changes may lead to unintended side effects, full redeployment of production, and dynamic scaling complexities.
For these reasons, Shawn advocates for adopting the cloud-native approach early on. Cloud-native applications are modularized, implemented with containers – one for each “microservice” of the application. Each of these microservices or units has its own framework, languages, and databases, making them independent from each other. This means that small changes and additions can be made to each one without compromising the whole, allowing for more seamless dynamic scalability.
After dozens of different projects with varying underlying networking technologies, Shawn pointed out that the monolithic design isn’t bad it works well in the very early stages for prototyping ideas and launching an MVP. However, as soon as an MVP is showing promise, it might be time to migrate to cloud-native.
The transition takes commitment, and the leadership and engineering team must be aligned, but the payoff allows for faster and better growth before the application becomes too complex.
Want to learn more about cloud-native and how to implement technologies like Kubernetes and Docker into your cloud application? Visit CENGN Academy!
Driving Innovation and Growth in Canada
All of us at CENGN were thrilled to present our findings to the tech leaders of Atlantic Canada through Propel.
Propel and CENGN have similar objectives when it comes to advancing Canadian tech enterprises. Propel’s mission is to help create successful global companies headquartered in Atlantic Canada. Propel discovers, educates, and mentors entrepreneurs who create prosperity, establishing Atlantic Canada as a lucrative start-up destination.
Similarly, CENGN has a pan-Canadian mission of driving innovation and growth in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector through its testbed, technical expertise, talent development, and partner ecosystem. Both organizations aim to advance global technology innovation for the prosperity of all Canadians through the support of Canadian innovators and partnerships with academia and industry leaders.
CENGN continues to support tech companies from the east coast of Canada that contribute to the region’s growth. That is why Alex highlighted two companies during the event. Kognitiv Spark, headquartered in Fredericton, New Brunswick, works with industrial augmented reality solution development and BluWave.ai from the national capital, leveraging AI and edge computing to help distribute renewable energy around the globe. In 2019, BluWave-ai completed the first-ever real-time, AI-enabled energy dispatch in a Canadian utility with Summerside Electric in the province of Prince Edward Island.
These companies and more from the Atlantic Region continue to exemplify Canada’s technological and innovative leadership to the world.
Interested in more events like this one? View the CENGN events page to see where CENGN will be next!
Estevão Costa is the Content Writer Student at CENGN (Summer 2021) and a Marketing student at the University of Ottawa. His major interests lie in transforming complex, technical subjects into intelligible and enjoyable content through simple and engaging writing. Aside from his daily marketing activities, Estevão has been a Teaching Assistant at the University of Ottawa for two years for multiple business courses.