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Course Corrections

Technology evolves. Architects adapt.

By Bob Rhubart

November/December 2016

Throughout history countless quotations, bromides, and platitudes have conveyed the idea that in nearly every human endeavor, what you plan to do will ultimately bear only limited resemblance to what you actually end up doing. Professional philosophers refer to this phenomenon as life. You may have a particular goal in mind, but odds are that forces beyond your control will shove you off your planned path, and you will have to make adjustments.

Cloud to cloud adds another layer of complexity that needs to be addressed right from the initial design.”
–Andy Jorgensen, Senior Partner, Mindstream Analytics

As 2016 winds down, I was curious about the factors that may have made course corrections necessary for members of the community, within the context of their roles as architects and developers, and about the gap between what they had planned for the year and what they actually ended up doing. This discussion attracted more responses than any other I’ve covered in this column.

“I’ve had to account for a lot of things lately to stay on track,” admits Oracle ACE Arturo Viveros, principal architect at Sysco. “One that is particularly challenging but also a lot of fun is working with people from the millennial generation, as well as designing and developing solutions intended for them. Millennials have a different mindset and are always keen to learn, embrace, and incorporate new technologies into the day-to-day work.”

In the technical realm, Viveros reports that his customers have become “increasingly API-minded, especially when their focus shifts towards mobile-first strategies and cloud integration”—requirements that involve RESTful architectures, automated provisioning, DevOps, and continuous integration. “Learning and working with API management, infrastructure as code, containers, microservices, and so on are [now] of the utmost importance,” Viveros says.

For Lykle Thijssen, senior service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business process management (BPM) consultant at AMIS, 2016 delivered an “Aha!” moment about his skill set. “Until recently I could comfortably rely on my experience with on-premises SOA and BPM. But the cloud offers a whole new range of things to learn and explore,” he notes. “On top of that, modern architectural styles, such as microservices, have changed my perspective on SOA solutions.”

Oracle ACE Associate Abhay Kumar, senior principal consultant at AST Corporation, reports that microservices have become a part of most of the architectural discussions in which he has participated. “Breaking monolithic machines into small, modularized components that are highly fault tolerant and self-healing has been the talk of the enterprise,” he says. Data security and the Internet of Things are now on his company’s radar as well.

For Oracle ACE Director Danilo Schmeidel, a solution architect at OPTIZ Consulting, 2016 was the year a prediction went bad. While attending Oracle OpenWorld 2013, Schmeidel declared to a colleague that it would be 5 to 10 years before their clients would be interested in the cloud services announced at that event. “I was completely wrong,” he says. “In 2016 we noticed a significant increase in customer requests asking for consulting in cloud strategy, cloud architecture, and cloud development.”

For Andy Jorgensen, senior partner at Mindstream Analytics, 2016 was less about course correction and more about executing on plans that had been percolating for several years in anticipation of the emergence of the cloud. “From a purely architectural point of view, I have to focus more on the integration components, as they represent a new challenge,” Jorgensen says. “On premises to on premises has challenges in its own right, but cloud to cloud adds another layer of complexity that needs to be addressed right from the initial design. We knew these would be challenges several years ago, but are now to the point where we’re getting our hands really dirty in the real world.”

What factors, technical or otherwise, forced you to make course corrections in 2016? Join in the conversation.

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