Private Equity (PE) firms are in the business of integrating companies into existing portfolio companies as they expand and put down footprints in industries of interest, but one major problem that rarely gets discussed is the immense technical challenge posed by having to repeatedly align multiple technology stacks into one owned by the portfolio company.
Stack alignment — and misalignment — can therefore end up becoming a major headache that bogs down development and IT, leading to complicated integration challenges that would be better avoided. Even relatively commonplace integrations between components of major cloud providers — such as those of AWS and Microsoft Azure — tend to be much more complex than simply subsuming the infrastructure of acquisitions into the PE firm’s tech stack. In tech, much as in business, it’s better if everybody speaks the same language.
In this article, we’re going to look at some ways that companies can reduce that headache, focusing on tools that are versatile, easy to use, and make the work of integrating tech stacks far easier.
Containers Are Your New Best Friends
Containerization is a technology that was introduced to allow programmers to “wrap” critical parts of their projects into so-called containers that could be run the same way on any machine.
The advantage in doing this? Developers could separate what they were actually working on from the underlying computing environment (for instance, the operating system running on the computer and its exact variant). Much as virtual machines did for operating systems, containers allowed development teams to quickly and easily migrate their projects between physical computing systems.
When PE firms look to integrate and deploy (others’ tech stacks), containerizing them can be a great first step in getting things moving. Divorcing the actual technologies firms use from what they’re running on can make it much easier for PE firms to capture them into their systems and deploy them on their preferred infrastructure.
The problem? Containers are a technology in their own right, of course! Unfortunately, most software cannot and should not run in only one container, and is a collection of containers that all must run together in concert using some sort of container orchestrator. Simplifying this process is therefore the obvious next step.
No Code Container Orchestration
Kubernetes is a technology that is enjoying rapidly growing adoption in the tech universe and for good reason. Today’s computing environment can be best described as infrastructure-agnostic. With more resources and systems now running on cloud environments rather than locally on premises, it’s becoming more commonplace for companies to have to move critical business systems between and around different public cloud providers.
To help ease the burden of embracing often expensive and time consuming cloud migrations and deployment strategies, automation technologies and orchestrators like Kubernetes came on the scene in order to help users automatically roll out new clusters as needed.
Of course, in a busy environment like PE where more acquisitions are being integrated all the time, it’s better if these tools are as easy to use as possible. To combat the complexities of Containers and Container Orchestration, new tools have evolved in the DevOps space to drastically reduce overall complexity in adopting tools like Kubernetes, such as harpoon.io; the world’s first No Code Kubernetes platform. harpoon is a drag and drop Kubernetes solution that allows you to automatically create and configure clusters just as you want them and automatically deploy them to your cloud provider account.
Automated Code Updates
Integrating tech teams can mean having to totally reorchestrate approval cycles and workflows and many technology companies these days have shifted their deployment workflows towards Continuous integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, allowing infrastructure and ops teams to work hand in hand and for code updates to move through the deployment pipeline in an orderly manner.
If your team is not already using CI/CD pipelines, it can be another great practice for PE firm portfolios who want to develop standard operating procedures that can help to streamline the process of integrating the tech stacks of companies whom they acquire.
Through webhooks, these pipelines can integrate with existing SCM tools such as GitHub and make deployments to your Kubernetes cluster.
Bringing it all Together
How does this all work in concert? Let’s take a PE firm (A Corp) which is integrating with B Corp — a SaaS-delivered real estate management platform. The following workflow could be used to simplify the integration process:
- B Corp outlines its current tech workflow and sends it to A Corp for evaluation.
- The tech team at A Corp analyzes the tech stack and prepares solutions to any integration challenges that are likely to arise.
- A corp containizerizes B Corp’s systems in order to migrate them over to A Corp’s infrastructure.
- A Corp adds these new containers to its existing drag and drop based Kubernetes management system, thereby enabling its own infrastructure to be provisioned, as needed, as the underlying technology evolves in terms of requirements for storage, compute, etc.
Firms in the business of acquiring companies, such as PE firms, need to develop strong workflows related to integrating other providers’ tech stacks in order to avoid daily headaches related to integration requirements. In the fast moving world of technology this process has to be seamless and easy in order to deliver required results at speed.
One easy way of going about this is leveraging a few separate concepts in synchrony in order to improve the efficiency of this process:
- CI/CD pipelines to support DevOps workflows
- No/Low Code DevOps tools like harpon.io to automate and simplify the process of managing integrated components on an ongoing basis.