The Inevitability Of Flexible Architecture

By Champions Admin / Dec 1 2017

Why is flexible IT architecture inevitable?

IT managers and CIOs are always seeking to simplify IT infrastructure, processes and services. The market is moving toward providing options such as ‘everything-as-a-service’ and cloud solutions in place of the more traditional on-site infrastructure that is so common in organisations today. These trends lead to the notion that IT managers and CIOs are seeking out highly scalable infrastructure and services for their IT systems. They are less interested in options that include both physical hardware and large up front costs due to the associate variable costs such as electricity, maintenance and risk management being difficult to budget for.

The new model represents the change we see across the industry, the platforms and applications once stored on a physical server are now containerised and virtualised. They can be treated as a resource that can be turned on and off at will furthering the scalability of the system. Organisations that purchase physical hardware without consultation around IT flexibility and cloud first strategy may find themselves spending more time, resources and money than required over the long term.

Key elements of flexible architecture

There are key concepts to understand before developing a flexible architecture roadmap. Detailed below are some key trends in the evolution of flexible architecture:

  1. Loosely Coupled Systems
    Core applications with layers of dependencies, rigidly defined interfaces and complex workarounds create a backlog of issues and fixes for organisations which eats into resource time and creates a large amount of inefficiency. Process innovations in IT over the past few years have given rise to a new approach to infrastructure design in which core components are no no longer monolithic and rather ‘loosely coupled’. APIs are a great example where applications are now able to communicate as separate systems, enabling the creation of a network of separate applications talking to one another, easily maintainable, upgradable and independent.
  2. Containerisation
    A container can be explained as an ‘entire runtime environment’ which in simple terms means an application plus dependencies and preconfigured settings all rolled into a little package. By containerising environments, any issues or differences with operating systems or underlying infrastructure do not affect the container. Containers allow portability and can live on premise or in the cloud. The efficiencies created through reduced maintenance, dependency related support and overall manageability are something to be considered when planning an IT roadmap.
  3. Speed then efficiency
    Businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on technology to shrink time to market schedules for new products and services. Th old approach of processes and controls no longer meets the fast paced demand departments place on technology. The need for speed comes from the need to experiment and effectively, to innovate. The trend shows the important compromise to make is speed over efficiency in the first instance however always ensuring efficiency closely follows as it often drives cost factors.
  4. Open Source
    The move to open source software is not a new one, however recent years have seen an uptick in the adoption of open source software for a number of reasons. One of the largest reasons is that the software is maintained by a large group generally volunteers meaning lower costs for support or maintenance.
  5. Autonomic Platforms
    Automation throughout the IT lifecycle is fast becoming commonplace. IT Managers need the ability to automate testing, building, deployment and operation of applications as it is a costly process to conduct manual monitoring, maintenance and operation. Removal of dependencies between business applications and a re-design of the infrastructure they run on will see IT staff being able to tackle the L3-L4 work while letting the system handle the lower level tasks.

It is certainly true that IT systems cannot be future-proofed, IT staff know this well and most realise that the change is exponential. In the coming years the requirement for businesses to migrate to flexible architecture is likely to increase to a point where the change is so rapid that those with traditional systems, servers and applications will find it very difficult to catch up.

Change is inevitable. First movers will gain a competitive advantage. Develop your plan for change before its too late.

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