It's a bridge, not a leap.
Pyramid has helped client after client build a reliable bridge to the latest business technologies, often extending the lives of their current systems.
When talking about Digital Transformation, the first step is to bridge the gap that exists between your existing system and the brave new world of connectivity and opening up new channels. This first step is more about enabling your core to be accessible from outside the infrastructure, securely. Securely being the key word here. For this to happen, its API’s to the rescue. This approach comes under many names. Middleware, Bolt on, being two of them. The idea is to keep the system as is and extend it with API’s that the new channels require. All functionalities need to flow through but the API’s become the bridge. This is not limited to API’s, it could be an IoT bridge as well.
Planning is really important to ensure that you do not have to rework what was created. If your organization is considering the Cloud, you do need to take that into consideration. The Cloud offers multiple components that you can plug into to drastically reduce development time on feature sets. Again, this needs planning. If you are not feeling secure about having a DMZ (De Militarized Zone) in your Infrastructure to expose to the outside world, you should ponder over hosting the API’s in the Cloud and connect the Cloud to your infrastructure via VPN. You can have this be a secure Hybrid environment.
Stateless API’s are not inherently secure. Sessions are not handled for you. You do need to take charge and define as to how these will work. The security will only be as good as you want/develop it to be. SSL is not a one stop solution and does not replace good secure practices.
If you have an existing web page now that needs to feed of the API’s. It should no longer be linked directly to the core as before. The very nature of old style (both deployment & development of) web page session management goes away. Your team has to understand how the new mechanism will work to leverage the best of what comes with this new arrangement. This is an opportunity to modernize your web page. Bring in better technologies that make the web page easier to use, provide a better customer experience and is just a lot more sexier.
Having said that, try not to do your web page first, if you have plans to mobilize your content. Start with the Mobile. This will ensure that your team does not fall back to the old practices of web development. And doing mobile before modernizing the web will ensure that the code will not have to be rewritten.
Extend and Align
You’re more than halfway there. You seek guidance about the smartest (and safest) way to extend your business to a new generation of devices, users, data sources and cloud environments.
When talking about Digital Transformation, the first step is to bridge the gap that exists between your existing system and the brave new world of connectivity and opening up new channels. This first step is more about enabling your core to be accessible from outside the infrastructure, securely. Securely being the key word here. For this to happen, its API’s to the rescue. This approach comes under many names. Middleware, Bolt-on, being two of them. The idea is to keep the system as is and extend it with API’s that the new channels require. All functionalities need to flow through but the API’s become the bridge. This is not limited to API’s, it could be an IoT bridge as well.
The old monolithic app performs well, for its time. But it can’t scale or rather it is going to cost you much more to scale than a microservices architecture approach. Or in some situation would not be able to scale to the demands of this new world. And what most people cannot comprehend is the amount of scale that is required to service the amount of consumers that come off a mobile app. The need does not end there. Now that you have an API bridge, you want to connect or get connected to other businesses and server’s via this bridge.
Once your core is extended to the outside world your core needs to slowly align with the usage. Which means that you need to look at breaking down your monolith app to small pieces. Each of these pieces would/should be an API by itself. Ultimately you will have a collection of API’s which form your core. Each unit is to be self sustainable. This becomes the applications strength. Scale only what is required. Distribute or group units as required. Each unit can even be in a different language as per needs (performance, maintainability, etc..) and it should not matter. Maintain without downtime. The list of advantages are endless but so is getting there.
It sounds radical
A leap into the unknown. You get the urgency. But how does your business get there without misplaced technology bets or repetitional risk ?
Sounds great, simple enough, I need this yesterday, why are we already not on it? The take away is to ensure that you do not go down a Big Bang approach. It is a transition. There is a plethora of tools/bolt-on’s out there and everyone has their own approach. Trying to do it on your own with a team that has no experience in transitioning such systems will ensure that you double or even triple your costs. And at the end the damage done will be evident. View this as an opportunity to correct everything that went wrong with the system initially. Your systems need to be up during this process, the business needs to keep marching forward.
Bring in the Experts, Strategist and Architects. Let them know how your business is unique and where you want to be. Define your short term and long term goals. Be wary of yes men and get people with a pragmatic approach. Allow them to provide you with a way forward and re-train your team. Do not treat this as a turn key project. This has to be a partnership.
Take the experience of multiple Digital Transformations and allow it to handhold you through that valley of pitfalls.