The rush to modernize IT environments using microservices, application programming interfaces (APIs) and containers may very well turn out to represent something of a double-edged sword.
A survey of 1,087 IT and business professionals conducted by Frost & Sullivan on behalf of CA Technologies, a unit of Brocade, finds that organizations that have modernized their application environment are eight times more likely to achieve key performance indicators (KPIs) for the business. Four out of five respondents also said agile practices are helping them build what customers really need to improve overall customer satisfaction.
On the downside, however, the study also finds more than half of respondents (56 percent) claimed that software issues can negatively affect the achievement of KPIs. A full 69 percent of all respondents say the pressure to release new applications or updates negatively affects quality and security, and 67 percent admit that their organization sometimes trades off security for application development and deployment speed.
Nine out of 10 respondents who claimed to widely utilize modern application architectures also concede it’s challenging to manage and monitor APIs, microservices and containers, and that APIs and microservices add new risks for their organizations. A total of 80 percent of respondents also say they view continuous application security testing and DevSecOps as critical components of their strategy to help resolve those issues.
Ashok Reddy, general manager for DevOps at CA Technologies, said that while organizations are clearly seeing a business benefit after embracing DevOps to modernize their application environments, the process hasn’t always been easy. The challenge they now face is that the rate at which digital business transformation projects are being launched has substantially increased. Most organizations are not going to achieve those goals in a timely fashion unless they modernize their application development and deployment processes, said Reddy, noting that only then can IT become flexible enough to meet the needs of the business versus continuing to try and force the business to bend to the way their applications work.
The paradox many organizations find themselves wresting with is that making the business more agile requires a more complex approach to IT. In theory, each microservice deployed is easier to manage than a monolithic application. But as thousands of microservices get deployed, the number of dependencies between services becomes more than the average IT organization can track. In fact, all those dependencies is one reason more organizations are starting to investigate applying machine and deep learning algorithms within the context of an artificial intelligence (AI) model to automate IT management at scale. Clearly, most IT organizations are now on a journey that starts with a simple set of microservices and ends up fundamentally transforming enterprise IT, regardless of whether anyone likes it.
It may take a while longer before the future of IT becomes a completely settled question. But for now, it’s apparent microservices in some regards are too much of good thing. The challenge is that from a digital business perspective, those microservices have become something most organizations can’t do without.