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Keeping your software and systems integration ahead of the curve

Integration of software and systems is an effective strategy in terms of reducing costs and increasing performance. It begins with the software designer who assembles units and components and then adds a quality assurance team that validates a consistent arrangement of the software and components.

I have found that the best integration plans contain system level standards, practices and enhancements of continuous improvement (CI) /continuous delivery (CD) and non-CI /CD system software.

Essential technology upgrades

The nature of technology requires companies to upgrade and enhance capabilities continually. However, some enterprises execute processes and workflows manually; and as a result, it is not cost effective. Here are some examples of technology upgrades that benefit from integration of software and systems.

1. DevOps: The success of a development team can be measured by throughput and stability. The former can be defined as the frequency of production releases, while the latter refers to the time required to heal and/or recover the application. DevOps aims at increasing coordination between development and operations teams by automating repeatable tasks and developing a continuous delivery pipeline. The results: faster time to market, increase in frequency of production deployments and shorter lead-time for addressing issues and fixes. If your organization expects to achieve these outcomes, it should be using a proven-effective product for managing the latest upgrades and operations.

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2. Product modularity using service oriented (SOA)/microservices architecture. I strongly recommend that you avoid any approach that focuses on delivering an all-in-one (monolithic) system in your modernization strategy. By delivering smaller usable functions, we can logically split large applications into a smaller ones resulting in more frequent delivery of product to customers and the scaling (up or down) of different application components independent of each other.

3. A well-defined architecture. Software architecture is well-defined when it is easily extendable, modular and maintainable. If your business requires an urgent change, the development team should be able to achieve it without having to redesign the entire system. The optimal system and platform empower agile teams to be self-sufficient. As a software architect, it is important to adopt those practices that produce good system performance, low fault tolerance, scalability and reliability-all of which are critical components of a well-architected system.

4. Customer first approach. Organizational life span and success depend upon customer value and satisfaction. This requires a customer first approach while planning and executing IT modernization. I recommend starting by creating a practical business case with clearly defined outcomes. Then, explain how the upgraded IT infrastructure will achieve the outcomes such as increased sales, improved user experience, retention and recruiting of customers, and productivity. Ongoing communication and collaboration with your business, infrastructure and development teams are essential as you work to determine your modernization path. They can provide you with deep insights into agile practices for generating a common goal and determining how your upgrades will deliver value to your customers.

5. Service-centered. When a company adopts modern tools and collaborates with powerful providers (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others) to host the offerings, it should be focused on the service-rendered internal functions beyond its software and hardware elements. These internal functions will influence customer service delivery and emphasize a value-based relationship with service providers. Throughout this process, feedback of stakeholders is essential. As is always the case, user feedback improves frameworks and helps attain agility for ongoing improvement of the end-user experience.

A security caveat

While juggling all the balls associated with software and systems integration projects, be aware that security threats represent a major risk that requires your constant attention. Since cloud service providers manage your infrastructure, there is a potential of reduced visibility into cyber security, data security and data.

It is incumbent upon the organization to perform due diligence throughout system modernization and take steps to secure the systems and network. The same applies while migrating the infrastructure to the cloud service provider as well as taking any additional steps to secure the environment, particularly in terms of vendor accessibility.

Taking these steps will do more than assure a successful migration. They will help you stay ahead of the curve by keeping your software and systems agile, flexible and secure.

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