No company, no matter its size or industry, is safe from disruption. It’s easier than ever for new entrants to enter a market and turn entire industries upside down. Unless organizations can nimbly innovate at the speed of their competition, they will be left behind, and large organizations with calcified processes and structures will be hit the hardest.
It’s possible for any organization to benefit from the digital transformation promise; it simply requires a more agile enterprise. This type of business employs a framework of smaller, hyper-focused teams rapidly innovating on defined units of business value, working in concert to deliver something much larger. We call this becoming the composable enterprise, and making an organization composable requires changes to how IT supports the business as well as enabling it to scale with reusable services and self-service consumption of those services.
Organizations that have successfully laid a foundation for continuous innovation and agility have adopted microservice architectures to respond rapidly to the never-ending demands of the business.
Microservices are the evolution of best-practice architectural principles that shape the delivery of solutions to the business in the form of services. All businesses must strive to deliver the ideal customer experience as customers are more demanding than ever and will abandon a business that is too slow to respond. IT then must deliver solutions that can be adapted to deliver a holistic and uniform experience to the customer across all the business channels.
To achieve this, the architecture should identify and define digital assets that align to core business capabilities – they offer the potential to break down the coupling between business channels and the backend systems of record that cater to them.
A microservice that encapsulates a core business capability and adheres to fundamental design principles and goals should be considered a true digital asset; it can bring value to the business because it can be used in multiple contexts, such as business processes and transactions or the channels through which your customer, employee, or partner interacts with your business.
Microservice business benefits
A microservice architecture enables business to respond to change with agility. Business processes and transactions are automated with the composition of microservices, and when processes are changed or new ones are introduced, IT can respond by rewiring services into new compositions.
The ease and speed with which your company can change will determine your ability to react to trends in your industry and maintain competitive advantage. With solution logic in the form of composable services, IT can run at the pace of the business and match business changes with an agile response in the delivery of solution logic.
Innovation is the face of this agility. It may take the form of new channels of business (like Google creating new revenue streams by productizing their APIs), new digital engagements with customers (like Spotify engaging with their customers through Uber), entirely new products and services which may demand entirely new business processes, or the simple modification of existing business processes. All of this speaks of change – companies need to be able to alter direction based on market forces, and IT must be able to facilitate change by composing existing digital assets into new business capabilities.
Your enterprise can deliver solution logic in a decentralized manner with the standardization of microservice contracts in the form of APIs. Teams from different domains can implement services with their own choice of technology and remain aligned with the business. This represents the evolution of IT’s role from provider to partner, resulting in line-of-business teams adapting core capabilities built by the central team for their own particular needs.
Microservices are natively able to communicate with each other due to industry-wide adoption of standards like HTTP and JSON. In other words, they are intrinsically interoperable. They facilitate an exchange of information independent of how they have been implemented because their interface is defined according to pre-existing industry standards or those also defined by the teams in your organization.
Your business can pick and choose best-of-breed vendor products and platforms because of the interoperability that standardized interfaces bring. For the same reason, your teams are also empowered to choose the best technologies to implement the microservices with a polyglot approach to development.