As a technology leader, you’ll be aware that competitive pressures and shifting business requirements are driving changes in the technical architectures of many organisations. This means you need a new strategic approach based on the ability to continually evolve elements of your systems and architectures.
Competitive pressures aside – and the need to keep up with the pace of your rivals. The reality is, traditional on-premise and cloud systems alike are ‘live’ entities that don’t remain static. They need to evolve over time as new products and technologies hit the market.
Meanwhile, business needs and markets are shifting, as customers and business partners are coming to expect faster, more responsive and more personalised services. Organisations need to address this changing landscape, focusing on their core business and continuing to operate whilst also adding value.
However, in terms of technology, monolithic legacy systems are not engineered to meet today’s business challenges. They have an inability to scale and an inclination towards long release cycles. Consequently, some organisations have chosen to break down their architecture into smaller components using a microservices approach. But many have found that even the simplest microservices implementation can bring a whole host of new problems.
Whether you are running monolith or microservices, evolution is still required. But the solution isn’t to blindly apply related techniques and processes, such as DevOps and Continuous Delivery, as has frequently happened throughout the industry. Instead, businesses require a more profound understanding of architectural principles so they can design for change, and avoid common pitfalls.
This understanding goes from how your systems are coupled together to how your organisation is structured. You also need to constantly consider how time and change could affect you and your systems. Neal Ford’s “Building Evolutionary Architectures” is a solid starting point to help you create a strong foundation.
At the same time, you need to build this foundation using technologies that promote flexibility and adaption. This is what ‘cloud native’ provides – as a set of technologies and also an approach.
Applied correctly, it can make your architecture more responsive to market changes. It achieves this by flexing to meet customer and business demands through techniques such as automation, horizontal scaling and distributed processing.
Cloud native delivers a framework that supports continuous change and improvement. At the same time, it’s more robust when it comes to daily operations, as you no longer need to update your whole system at once. Instead, you can de-risk your infrastructure upgrades or changes, and maintain business continuity, by selecting particular areas to scale, repair and improve.
As you plan for your infrastructural evolution, it’s essential to have a clear vision of the advantages and trade-offs that lie ahead. Be prepared to make some compromises, perhaps balancing increased security against productivity. Or, sacrificing some architectural purity in the short term so you can make way to achieve a higher long-term goal.
The key consideration here is to understand the compromises you are making. For example, do they actually de-risk your evolution, and help achieve your higher goal, or just create more problems in the long term?
New ways of working will require cultural change, both from a business and an IT perspective. Cloud native models in particular are based on values of continual improvement, greater agility and speed, and constant evolution.
Companies and departments will need to learn to operate in this way, based on small releases and enhancements to applications and workflows, rather than a traditional rip-and-replace approach.
Choosing the path of carefully designing for change with the use of appropriate technologies can yield great rewards.
Modern architectures and processes enable businesses to rapidly introduce, scale-up and gain value from new services and IT enhancements. This is because they are designed from the ground up for automation and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery.
Constant evolution requires constant investment. But flexible architectures can deliver cost savings in the way you evolve new ways of working and processes, and faster time-to-market, with rapid ROI and time-to-value.
Lastly, with the right guidance, you can implement a best-practice modern architecture that will enable you to attract and retain the best IT talent.
If you don’t have a clear vision of where you are going, even the most decoupled architecture will not be sufficient. Even with the greatest technology and the most efficient organisation structure and processes.
It’s fundamental to have a roadmap so you can keep sight of your strategic goals and also your milestones.
The best way to plan the evolution of your system is to select ‘small’ areas and introduce incremental changes in key parts of the business to keep moving forward.
When you’re operationally efficient, you’ll be keeping your costs under control. And – implemented well – our experience shows that a cloud-native solution can help you achieve this.
Remember: evolution is the new constant, and you can keep ahead of the curve by being aware of new technologies and implementing them where it makes sense.
Get in contact with us if you want to talk about evolving your architecture and overcoming your business and IT challenges.