The expectations placed on IT departments these days are anything but realistic. In fact, they’re downright ludicrous. For the past half-century, IT departments have been the go-to place for almost all things business-related. From ensuring infrastructure is continually up and running to tackling application integration projects, building new products, and even making sure phones have a dial tone—everything falls on IT’s shoulders.

The reality is that there is now an inherent lack of cycles. Pair that with the highly verticalized expertise and specializations required for today’s modern business environments, and the challenges begin to rear their ugly heads. For example, if there is one constant in business, it’s that—due to ever-evolving demands—IT seldom has the bandwidth to meet every business objective. In fact, business demands often exceed the team’s ability to deliver.

Yes, there is the challenge of simply not having enough team members—but that’s not the crux of the issue. More commonly, there is a limitation as it relates to skillsets that are simply not an in-house capability—such as in AI and machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality, and more. All of this, combined, places too many unfair burdens on IT and erodes IT’s productivity. When stretched so thin that IT leaders must choose between maintaining mission-critical systems and applications or chasing a new architectural approach, things are inevitably going to slip.

For instance, let’s use the cloud as an example. Cloud computing is the undeniable epicenter of automated communications, connectivity and experience. However, migrating data to the cloud and managing it internally is often too complex and time-consuming for businesses to do themselves. Like all newly emerging technologies, certifications in the major cloud platforms are a must to ensure a smooth transition, a future-proofing investment, and to remain on course as it pertains to product roadmaps and new endeavors.

The reality of tackling new digital initiatives that cross multiple IT silos—including cloud solution integrations, developing new software-based products that result in market acquisition and enhanced customer experiences, and analytics that drive better business decisions and direction—result in nothing but monumental challenges for almost every IT department. Moreover, with architectures rarely—if ever—being able to natively integrate with one another, it’s often difficult to know where to even start. Generally speaking, these types of projects are also associated with the enormity of the digital landscape—which is so overwhelming that even the starting point becomes difficult to define.

The good news is that there is a light at the end of that tunnel. And IT can sit firmly in that light—if they choose to.
As the complexities of the new digital ecosystem continue to grow, IT has grown along with them. The days of being all-things-to-all-people are fading. Instead, we are seeing the ushering-in of the consultative figurehead. In fact, IT has truly now become the rock stars of finding solutions more so than creating them—vetting everything from new technologies to partnerships and more. What this means is that IT can still be all things, but with a far more managerial approach. Augmenting team members with highly defined outsourced skillsets, tackling new projects in a more agile and partnered way, and relying on industry experts continues to place IT departments exactly where they should be—driving business innovation and success, and being in charge of it all.
In a world where everything is now digital and the cloud has firmly become all things to all companies, the focus has turned squarely on the architectural and organizational approach to software development—and rightfully so. More so, these architectures known as microservices—which make applications easier to scale and faster to develop—are now igniting endless possibilities for organizations around the world, vastly accelerating innovation and time-to-market for new features, and representing overall success.

So what’s so special about microservices? Put simply, microservices is the approach to software development where software is composed of small independent services that communicate over well-defined APIs. These services are owned by small, self-contained teams. And that’s where the magic happens.

But first, let’s compare the microservices approach to the older, less agile monolithic scenarios.

Dwindling are the days of old-school monolithic architectures—ones where all the processes are tightly coupled and run as a single service. Looking back on that approach, it’s a wonder anything ever got accomplished. For instance, imagine if one single process suddenly experiences a spike in demand. This means that the entire architecture must then be scaled. This also means that every time a company wants to add to the architecture and improve applications and underlying features, the entirety of it becomes exponentially more complex. In this example, this complexity of this older approach results in limited experimentation and makes new ideas a lot tougher to bring to fruition.

And then, of course, there is the issue of availability. By nature, the complexity associated with aging monolithic architectures immediately adds risk for application availability. This is mostly due to the many dependencies and intertwined processes that increase the impact of a single process failure.

Here’s where microservices shine. With a microservices architecture, an application is built as independent components that run each application process as a service. These services communicate via a well-defined interface using lightweight APIs. Services are built for business capabilities and each service performs a single function. Because they are independently run, each service can be updated, deployed and scaled to meet the demand for specific functions of an application.

But what are the actual business benefits of microservices? Outside all the tech-speak, architecture talk and so on, at the end of the day the microservices approach helps fuel innovation, time-to-market and business success. It does this by starting with agility. Microservices by nature creates small, independent teams that take ownership of their services—empowering them to work more quickly and independently. This shortens development cycle times. You benefit significantly from the aggregate throughput of the organization.

Then there is the reality of flexible scalability. With microservices, each service can be independently scaled—enabling the right-sizing of infrastructure needs, accurately measuring feature costs, and maintaining availability.

There is my personal favorite benefit: ease of deployment. Microservices makes it easy to try out new ideas and even roll back if something doesn’t work—so the low cost associated with failure helps enable experimentation and accelerate time-to-market for new features. And lastly, at least for the purpose of this article, there is the highly sought-after benefit of technological freedom. Microservices architectures don’t follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Teams have the freedom to choose the best tool to solve their specific problems. As a consequence, teams that build microservices can choose the best tool for each job. There you have it. Ready to move forward with microservices? Don’t worry, I’m the first to realize that’s a loaded question. First, it comes with the idea that your organization already has microservices expertise, not to mention additional expertise in cloud architectures such as AWS. The good news is that’s where HatchWorks comes in. Let us know what your goals are—I’m willing to bet that you are closer to success than you may think.

In a world where technology is always changing, our collective social fabric has become one that continually embraces the new, the shiny, the latest and the greatest. In fact, for many, the latest tech—whether hardware or apps—is linked to far more than just features and functionality: it’s a social status symbol that elevates people to the top of their proverbial social food chain. Those same bright and shiny new objects tend to affect more than the user. For very new apps or devices, user expectations grow—far too often affecting industry segments that have little or nothing to do with the device or new app acquired by the end-user. For instance, if a multi-national coffee brand releases a new customer-facing app that delivers some mind-blowing experience, suddenly that same experience is being demanded of car companies, real-estate developers, and more. A far cry from selling coffee, but habits are habits, and end-users develop new habits fast. This is where companies begin to panic, while simultaneously seeing opportunity. But, like any modern business opportunity that relates to technology, it often comes down to the old saying, “Easier said than done.” In almost every case, new end-user expectations and the ability to deliver on them fall solely on brand new technological advancements and architectures. However, in the world of enterprise business, the ability to rapidly pivot technology and embrace new systems is simply not an option—at least not without help.
You see, legacy systems and architectures are often tied to the entirety of the business and, more than likely, also representative of billions of dollars in current revenue streams. As such, injecting new technology into that legacy environment is an impact that is not likely to be embraced by anyone.
This is often where the notions of expertise collide. For the folks who have been managing the legacy architectures for years, the new and highly verticalized expertise necessary for new business initiatives is simply not there. For example, why would a datacenter professional with 40+ years experience who is responsible for billions of transactions a day have the time, energy or desire to become a cloud application expert? Because they are simply too busy doing their current, extremely important job.

Conversely, why would a rock-star cloud architect who spends 50+ hours a week creating and maintaining the latest in customer-facing applications and modern experience have a desire to learn anything about legacy infrastructure? Again, because they are simply too busy doing their current, extremely important job.

The reality, however, is that those two roles and expertise types must somehow seamlessly work together to meet evolving business expectations and goals, while simultaneously not disrupting an already-billion-dollar successful business model.

It’s this new reality of technological “collision” that has brought about a brand new industry—experts in developing modern digital business initiatives that speak the two proverbial languages of new and legacy. These experts bridge the gap between them, all while enabling the enterprise to use and merge current and upcoming digital technologies to propel themselves forward.

For any enterprise, this becomes the modern recipe for success. Of course, having expertise in the current infrastructure is imperative—after all, these are the people who keep the mission-critical wheels turning to ensure the current success of the business is maintained. Simultaneously, enterprise entities MUST engage with external experts to introduce new methodologies, help eliminate technical debt associated with aging architectures, solve bandwidth and expertise challenges, and help create new cloud-based solutions to meet all of those aforementioned expectations.

There is room for all expertise types to work seamlessly together, and be highly successful at doing so. Finding the right partner will make both groups become one, and success a quick and painless reality. And it’s only a phone call away.