Today, the IT challenge is to go along with the evolution of market and business needs through effective choices in terms of application architecture. To meet the needs of the business and customers, the IT should be able to react faster, by taking action on technologies and methodologies to ensure that the software is flexible, and by enabling the continuous innovation process of products and services.
Certainly, this can not be done with the monolithic applications and rigid infrastructures of the past. On the opposite, it can be achieved with architectures designed for evolution, which are easy to update and remodel when needed. The extensive use of the practice of containerization (according to Gartner, the employment in large companies will grow from the current 30% to 75% already by 2022) and the redesign of microservices applications with a cloud-native approach is the key to succeed in this scenario.
How an evolving application architecture is made
Overseas specialists call them evolvable architectures to distinguish them from the traditional ones that today are holding back or are not helping to change. Application architectures are based on the microservices architectural style and are designed to work at their best in modern virtualized IT and cloud environments.
The basic idea is to create applications that can be easily “disassembled”, whose components can be reused in other contexts or combinations, such as Lego sets. Developing a series of microservices, each for the performance of a single business function (in accordance with the Single Responsibility Principle) allows gaining considerable flexibility in the development and evolution of the applications themselves. As a matter of fact, the services can be developed, updated, and tested independently, following the specific lifecycle of the supported functions.
Furthermore, speaking of deployment, the architecture of a microservices application has great advantages: individual microservices can be scaled as needed- on-premise or in the cloud - by using the available resources.
To do this, microservices applications are supported by container-based infrastructures, managed through orchestration systems (typically Kubernetes) that automate and facilitate the relocation of software jobs between corporate systems and from these to cloud provider services.
The advantages of an application architecture that evolves with the business
Application architectures based on microservices have greater autonomy both in terms of development and deployment. As we have seen, microservices can be individually implemented, “disassembled”, updated, and reused in other applications. Therefore, it helps to reduce the time and costs of design/development of every new creation required by the market, by the evolution of products or customer needs.
Furthermore, using the practice of containerization, it is possible to simplify the deployment of applications in any environment - on-premise, cloud, multi-cloud, or hybrid - optimizing costs.
Among the advantages of the microservices architectural style, we also find the possibility of obtaining greater transparency on the conversations between the various services and on their health status: better observability means to easily solve problems of complex applications. As a matter of fact, administrators can identify and resolve performance and security problems more quickly, implementing mitigations at the level of operations and code, thus reconciling the speed of reaction with the long-term effectiveness of the changes.
With the adoption of microservices and new development and deployment methodologies, it is possible to create application architectures capable of evolving over time. Beyond the new skills that IT teams must acquire, it is necessary to have a clear vision of the future for the company to ensure that the services provided can be useful for business developments.
Create an application architecture capable of evolving
We have seen how a modern application architecture based on microservices guarantees software flexibility and allows you to take advantage of all the resources available on-premise and on-demand, distributing jobs where it is convenient to obtain the required performance, reduce costs or protect data.
To make this possible, it is necessary to create and manage virtualized IT environments, in cloud and hybrid environments, as well as adopt the most suitable methodologies and strategies. For example, in the DevOps area - which is used to link development and operations activities together - the methodological support of continuous integration / continuous delivery (CI / CD) strategies help to improve the update speed rate and the quality of the application software.
In addition, microservices facilitate the integration of legacy applications, allowing companies to be more agile and take advantage of the most advanced solutions available on the market. Besides the need for new skills and working methods, evolvable application architectures are now necessary to support the changing needs dictated by digital transformation.