Future-Proof Your Architecture Using Modern Technology

author-photo
Latest Articles

The advent and proliferation of internet-enabled and connected devices, paired with old legacy architecture, is causing integration and data control headaches for the modern organization. How can your company address these challenges and prepare for the future at the same time? I’ll argue: if you do nothing, you’re in big trouble.

From Legacy Turns Complexity

If your company is like many others, your business services live in multiple silos. You may have different databases and web services to handle your product database, CRM, your transactions, your marketing, loyalty, rewards, payments, and so on. In addition, many companies host some databases and business services on premise using legacy systems, with other databases and business services provided by 3rd parties, or are hosted privately in the cloud.

This should not be a surprise. Over time, decision-makers with varying perspectives come and go. Different business groups and stakeholders are given autonomy to select solutions for their needs, while at the same time risk-averse IT groups defend keeping legacy architecture in place (not surprising as migrating from legacy architecture to a modern framework takes time and non-trivial investment). Technologies, integrations, and business services end up in silos and have accumulated technical and architectural debt that makes it hard to move forward with the requirements of the business.

The Silo Problem

While silos may have worked for some organizations in the past, this is not sustainable. Here’s why:

01

02

Modern Enterprise Architecture for the Future

While I’ve painted a picture of many problems above, there are now elegant technology solutions which address all the pain points. Enter the MEAN Stack (Mongo, Express, Angular.js, Node.js) or the React Stack, (React.js, Mongo, Express, Node.js).

At the heart of these modern frameworks: Javascript. Why is this so important? Javascript end-user applications can be packaged to run beautifully across many different platforms. A full-stack javascript engineer, which is much easier to find than other developer skills, can build an application with the intent to package components of a singular central application to run:

First, let’s paint a picture of what this looks like:

03

I don’t know about you, but to me that looks sexy!

Next, let’s add in the integrations with an organization’s different business services. Angular.js components removed on purpose to de-clutter:

04

There are common challenges which, when addressed using the architecture shown above, provide huge technological advantages:

Finally, let’s see what happens when an organization needs to change. In the image below, the CRM provider made a change to its API, which caused a new requirement for how the CRM must connect to all of the organization’s end-user applications. With this modern architecture in place, the change is a relatively straightforward adjustment to one adapter, which can be handled by one full-stack engineer and propagate to the entire enterprise (see the highlighted connection in red).

05

I changed one connector and magically everything in my end-user applications just worked. Boom!

Quantifying the Impact

In working with a client this year, I ran into a similar situation with the challenges outlined above. I inherited and became responsible for managing the client’s existing legacy product (not built by me), which came with some serious technical debt. Understanding the challenges ahead, I recommended to the client that we move them to a Modern architecture.

Below, I’ll use the term “Legacy,” meaning 1) a siloed approach to product architecture and integration, 2) not using a modern middleware API host, 3) using different technology stacks for different end-user applications, 4) different technologies for separate databases, and 5) different data structures without normalization, 5) different implementation methodologies and standards. I’ll use the term “Modern,” meaning a MEAN stack approach with a modern middleware API host, data normalization, and Angular.js-powered end-user applications.

To help quantify the impact of moving to a Modern enterprise architecture, I ran some in-depth analyses and built a business case including a 2-year total cost of ownership model. The name of the client, type of their end-user applications, and actual costs have been omitted for confidentiality.

Here’s a summary of what I found:

Separately, during management of the client’s technical-debt-ridden Legacy product, I had an engineer get so frustrated with the state of the product that they asked to be moved off of the project. I had to put them on another product team in order to avoid engineer churn.

The Churn Problem

IT managers, engineers, and DevOps hold the keys to business-critical infrastructure. Over time, these team members tire of managing old, cumbersome legacy architecture and seek out new employment where they’ll be afforded the opportunity to leverage faster, more extensible, reliable, easier-to-use and easier-to-manage modern technologies. No one, whether an internal employee or vendor, enjoys or is challenged by maintaining and building upon aging technology. This causes employee churn in IT, which is one of the most costly areas of churn for a company because of the high cost of personnel and intense market competition for the talent.

In Closing

David Girouard, former President of Google Enterprise Apps who is well-known for building his group at Google into a $1B+ global business, said:

“I’ve long believed that speed is the ultimate weapon in business. All else being equal, the fastest company in any market will win. Speed is a defining characteristic — if not the defining characteristic — of the leader in virtually every industry you look at.”

While the future is uncertain, there is absolute certainty in this: change is happening and technology is moving at breakneck speeds. All businesses need to prepare to move fast. If you don’t, your competition will, and they’ll win. Prepare your business for the future with a modern, extensible enterprise architecture to ensure you can move as fast as your customers demand.

If your organization is ready to move to a modern enterprise architecture, contact us at Stuzo. We’d love to hear about your challenge.

Share this story

Latest Articles

Don't Miss These...

Contact Us

Please let us know if you’re interested in our software services and Open Commerce platform, in scheduling an Insights briefing, or establishing a partnership.