From Monolith to Microservice
Organisations that find ways to deliver their services better and faster can uncover new-found agility driven by the efficiencies gained through transformation—like improved value streams, new revenue channels, and time and cost efficiencies. They can use technology to build on their competitiveness in new and innovative ways.
Cloud is one of those transformative technologies. Companies are shifting to the cloud in droves because it is enabling them to compete harder than ever before. Cloud computing is undoubtedly shaping the future of IT—supporting sweeping changes for major tech and business disruptors through its delivery of AI, IoT, RPA and overall digital business transformation.
Applications are the gateway to continuous improvement. Improvement of the products and services delivered to the customer. More frequent, agile software releases are required to stay ahead of the competition. But monolithic, aging systems aren’t built to support the demands of today’s customers whose expectations are rooted in mobility, cutting-edge features, enhanced functionality and remarkable speed.
New application architectures through the cloud offer the prospect of speed and agility. Whether through features, functionality, design, accessibility or something in between, there is always room to improve and modernise applications to transform and digitally enhance the customer journey. Indeed, today’s reality is high-volume, high-competition, and new apps are being created faster than ever before.
In fact, according to IDC, 500 million new applications will be created in a five-year span—this is equal to the number built over the past 40 years.1
Organisations are increasingly seeing the value of microservices—the architectural style—for developing new applications and distilling monolithic, legacy applications and systems. These systems are unwieldy and difficult to maintain, manage and quickly scale, not to mention they can become a liability and roadblock to progress.
Cloud-native apps can be built as interconnected containers through a service mesh that runs reliably across environments. Compared to monolithic applications, microservice ecosystems are better suited for continuous integration and deployment, enabling better, faster and more dynamic iterating. Complex workloads can be brought into the cloud, then refactored and easily broken down by leveraging microservices running on containers (think Docker and Kubernetes). When microservices are built using a container infrastructure, you can run the environment anywhere with virtually unrestricted processing power.
The benefits—primarily portability, modularity and velocity—are achieved more rapidly. Containerised microservices also improve operations by isolating services that are easy to deploy, identify, monitor and fix in the event something goes wrong.
While it can be easy to glamorise buzzwords surrounding MSAs, their value cannot be overlooked. Although microservices are only one part of the big modernisation picture, they enable organisations to improve and optimise their value stream.
Modernising the Value-Stream
Microservices decompose apps into smaller, compartmentalised and more consumable parts. This breakdown of services creates room for new features and faster development. When undergoing digital transformation, look at legacy environments—which are typically static, rigid and subsequently only accommodate yearly or quarterly releases of new features/functions—and seek to render them down into more modular and stateless architectures that allow for quicker/faster iterations, ultimately improving organisations’ ability to succeed in their respective markets.
Speed is the "name of the game" in many sectors and microservices allow for much faster delivery in this regard. Furthermore, iterate the corresponding code-bases and feature-sets in a more continuous fashion, and the ultimate quality of CX, UX and all-around app experience is also perpetuated like never before.
Think about a monolithic app. Make one small change, and extensive testing is required across the entire application to ensure nothing has broken. With microservices, organisations can target which service needs to be changed, fixed or updated, with testing then isolated to that one area.
While it does not eliminate the need for full system integration testing, validating singular changes in isolation enables you to move through the development life cycle faster. From resolving that issue, you’re able to get things out to your customer at speed and scale—which makes all the difference between exceeding customer needs and lagging behind.
Containerised microservices power organisations’ digital transformation efforts by delivering better, more seamless and more iterative technology by enabling faster, more efficient deployments. The nimble nature of MSAs allows for agile changes to a code base behind the products supported by an application.
However, this is only achievable if the environment is extensible and amenable to changes on the fly. Legacy application environments can become cumbersome and problematic. Often there is storage, servers, infrastructure and teams of people providing support. Very rarely over time do these app environments become more extensible, modular or transportable to other environments. Instead the opposite tends to hold true- they become more brittle, fixed and static. Whereas an MSA offers a holistic method to achieving modernisation and improving the value stream, setting the company up for long-term success.
How microservices give the competitive edge
Improved performance across KPIs
Microservices are the solution to a long-standing problem. Due to their nature, monolithic applications are large, robust and very complex systems that make it challenging to quickly deliver new features and enhancements. Customers have evolving expectations, and they demand fast and personalised service. Monoliths stand in the way of delivering an outstanding experience to this modern customer—and meeting those expectations could be the difference between you and your competitor.
- Modernisation should be holistic: Create a modernisation roadmap that takes the entire cloud ecosystem into consideration.
- Decisioning should be streamlined and unified: Avoid large, complex decision trees – strong leadership, with clear communication between silos is essential.
- Teams should be lean, agile and revolve around the DevOps model: A small group of high-octane performers is all it takes. Key roles include developer, architect, ops engineer, an SDET and scrum master.
- Start with quick wins: Look for the minimum viable product that you can optimise to get a proof of concept you can use to gain confidence and demonstrate the value.
- Be service-minded:
- People—Make sure your people are up to speed and they’re able to adapt to changes
- Process—Most processes and governance should be automated
- Technology—Position yourself to accept, not resist, emerging technologies
- Anticipate evolution: Improve what you have today, but more importantly, consider what you’ll need tomorrow and be ready to evolve.
- The business value is your North Star: Technology changes quickly. Focus on the value stream to your customers holistically and modernise that value stream to future-proof your investment
- IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2019 Predictions, IDC