Rearchitect your employer’s monolithic software into a robust conglomeration of cross-transactional microservices

Decentralization is about more than just improving Political Economy.

Monolithic client-server software architecture is analogous with socialism itself. For any typical networked computer program from the late 20th Century, a control freak such as int main(); initialized a core set of server functionality which in turn conscripted routines within the same runtime instance to perform auxiliary duties. At no time did the algorithmic tyrant permit autonomy, and problems within even one auxiliary unit often caused the entire binary society to crash domino-style into operational ruin — even if users were not experiencing problems with the client app on their end, no user would be able to access the monolithic service experiencing downtime on the server.

Like a great escape from a German prison camp, microservices offer the software equipment your employer needs to guarantee that its net-enabled application’s Tom tunnel will stay operational even if both Dick and Harry experience digital cave ins. The decentralization of business logic duties among numerous separate-but-interconnected software services facilitates robust development and deployment opportunities, at the expense of some additional processing overhead from the APIs which allow such microservices to speak to one another. Advantages include:

  1. Scalability — a microservices architecture allows development teams to pick and choose which services will receive the most runtime attention from clients and will therefore need more processing power to cope with the demand of ever-increasing numbers of users
  2. Enhanced bug hunting — this is simple math: a large, monolithic arthitecture will be a bigger haystack to hide bug-needles than an architecture of microservices within which a process of this-one-is-still-running elimination minimizes the overall amount of hay that needs to be searched
  3. Distributed development teams — this one evokes memories of legitimate Political Economy: segregation of duties and comparative advantage increase profitable efficiency (note that initial investments of additional resources might not be cost-effective for smaller organizations)

Some software vendors are approaching microservices architecture with the same weaselly dismissal of open standards as so many of them did previously at the monolithic expense of consumers. They market themselves as a special brand providing exclusive products, but they are in actuality trying to lock in repeat business by offering only a my-way-or-the-highway set of options.

Don’t work for one of those weaselly companies. Each consumer is at all times in the driver’s seat of production amid any healthy economy (as opposed to Keynesian duplicity regarding consumers having some kind of spend-spend-spend obligation toward producers as a collective engine of production). Remember always that the vast majority of everyone’s life, even while at work producing things for market, entails consuming things which are already available from various markets — kind of like the way that microservices improve the algorithmic markets of networked computing.

“Who are you and how are you going to help my employer maintain the ability to pay my salary?”

When evaluating technology vendors for possible B2B supply chain relationships, don’t shy away from directing questions toward those who create the product that is under procurement consideration.

Perhaps, during the course of your day-to-day nine-to-five, you’ve created or helped to create some of the RFI (Request For Information) or RFP (Request For Proposal) communications that enterprises need for comparing & contrasting sources of potential production inputs. Such documented requests are important elements of maximizing employer value and, consequently, profits and, consequently-consequently, your sustained income from whichever role you occupy within the organization.

The product itself, though, represents only a part of the relationship that your employer has with its supply-side stakeholders. The people who make the product are just as important to both their employer’s success and yours, so suss out information like the vendor’s HR turnover rate (churn) as well as how closely its various departments work together (e.g. do they have a workforce that is geographically distributed and do they do much outsourcing of their own production needs?).

Such questions need not be of a personal nature. Instead of asking someone where they went to school, try asking them what their process is for resolving bugs or similar product defects. Instead of listening to a sales pitch as a captured audience, find out whether a potential supplier’s engineering staff — or whoever creates their employer’s product — would be willing to sit in on one of your employer’s sales meetings (assuming your employer approves).

The key is to build a trustful and mutually beneficial relationship based not on the product alone or the first impression you get regarding specific personalities, but rather on the way that potential vendors work together to add value to your employer’s roadmap advancements. It’s the business management equivalent of “Measure twice, cut once.”

A metadata tag too far: comprehending deep semantics to help your employer focus

If you plant too many trees you’ll lose sight of the forest, or something like that.

As a general enterprise rule, Aleph Infotinuum Services declines to dumb down anything for its clients or its web site readership. AIS prefers to offer opportunities for self-improvement and growth.

Indeed, dumbing down things for clients represents professional negligence. All too often, bureaucrats disguising themselves as competent business managers will — amid their desperation to appear like big shot deciderers — seek to blow with the “I’ve heard of <insert product or company here> so that’s what we’re going with” wind. All too often, sycophant mimics cuing on such bureaucratic pretense of business management gravitas will kowtow like automatons and thereby endanger the very solvency of their employer.

So it is with content, and marketing, and the consumption of marketing content from third parties for purposes of business management decidering (which is not about manufacturing apple juice by way of separating alcohol from cider). Many CMOs, and even some CIOs depending on a particular individual’s level of bureaucratic behavior, make deliberate efforts to disseminate information which is vague at best and duplicitous at worst. Bureaucrats are willing to throw colleagues under the proverbial bus and set them up for failure in the spirit of Stalin-esque political purges or equivalent nights of long knives … so what do you think such weakness of character brings to the prospect of CX (Customer eXperience)?

As a qualified manager of a slice of your employer’s slice of the eternal infotinuum, you know better than to obfuscate and dazzle with public-facing pleonasm. You also know better than to condescend toward consumers by dumbing down everything. Stick with the rhetorical basics of a foundational semantic makeup, and your markup will become as honey is to flies (or to pooh bears — or to just about anything with taste buds).

A verbatim headline: “The 5 Ds of Creating Software”

Aleph Infotinuum Services gives this article a non-binding grade of D for failing to include Documentation.

AIS is also sorry to report that not one of those Ds is Dance. Perhaps the intended developer-android audience spends its days dreaming of electric sheep within one or another enterprise’s Dilbert department.

On a more serious note, what’s up with skimping on documentation? Such corner cutting guarantees a diminished user experience. As the article explains, creating software is about more than just hacking code.

After adding Documentation to the hexa-D recipe for software development (which is itself a document), consider prefixing the D with a C for Continuous Delivery. Establish a feasible workflow process (e.g. dev-ops, XP, Scrum, etc.) as another wise component of product pre-planning.

Should your employer look toward mob rule for the efficient completion of successful programming projects?

It’s too early to say for certain, but Aleph Infotinuum Services suspects that such an approach solves some of the problems which either stem from or are difficult to ameliorate by way of other programming methodologies (e.g. XP, Scrum, Lean), while letting one or more of the already-resolved process problems back in.

Seriously, though, there is no way to perfect any individual. To extend that logic, there is also no way to perfect any team. Meeting adjourned.

Seriously, though. Problems within any organization boil down to people. Even within your own enterprise, where each employee is guaranteed to be a talented if imperfect contributor with whom others relish collaborating, there are bound to be supply-chain vendors mucking up the works.

Seriously, though. Imperfect people and imperfect processes tend to stew themselves into man hours and business days eaten up in large part by meetings that never seem to adjourn. Where that leads too often is toward market exposure of a struggling company whose problems with supply-chain vendors become exacerbated by consumers who for some reason won’t pay top dollar for all those meeting minutes.

Seriously, though. Your employer can’t get its huge idea with ten thousand features to the store shelves when so much productive capacity is getting lost within meetings. Or, for that matter, ever.

Seriously, though. Why not encourage teams to hold one continuous meeting that spans multiple sprints and even entire careers, during which the topics under discussion get entered immediately into the productivity swim lane where internal product owners and likewise business line managers can observe genuine progress?

AI (Artificial Intelligence) can demonstrate positive ROAII (Return On Artificial Intelligence Investment)

It might not ever escape The Chinese Room, but the adumbrative machine entity is capable of more than mere letter sorting or traffic signaling.

Once the domain of spendthrift bureaucracy backed by broken taxpayer backs, AI procurement has become affordable for nearly-broken entrepreneurs hoping to compete through algorithmic automation. Whether your employer might choose to augment specific roles within the enterprise or eliminate them entirely, the savings on capital and operations expenditures would resettle across multiple market sectors to enhance overall economic employment by way of maximizing consumer satisfaction.

Businesses don’t exist for the purpose of maximizing jobs, but rather businesses exist for the purpose of satisfying consumers. Take heart, though, because maximizing consumer satisfaction regarding any conceivable trade — which includes B2B (Business To Business) deals as well as those ultimate retail transactions — is the only way to maximize jobs within any sustainable economy. Even while working, each of us spends the vast majority of our time consuming things which others produced already, so jeopardizing the smooth operation of society’s various jobs by being a vendor that doesn’t strive to maximize consumer satisfaction means lower productivity all around and, consequently, store shelves featuring fewer purchasing options at higher prices (again: don’t be fooled into thinking that the higher prices of a government’s inflationary policy represent a gold mine of producer opportunity — each of us is first & foremost a consumer and consumers are the final controllers of all markets).

Higher prices are also bad for your employer, and ultimately bad as well for both your employer’s customers and its supply-side vendors. What’s good for your employer is any manager who is valuable enough to adopt promising new technologies somewhere between the time that they’re bleeding-edge (therefore expensive & immature) and the time that they become commoditized (thereby minimizing their effectiveness as a competitive differentiator). Consider the following list of technologies which demonstrate such a managerial sweet spot for excelling into 2017:

  • The Machine (external link) — Caution: observe-only mode
  • DASH (aka MPEG-DASH)Get with the bit rate variability
  • CMISStill the closest thing to tapping pure infotinuum
  • “Everything on The Cloud” — Recommending this would prove to be a career killer

Decide for yourselves where AI might fit into that list. For its own sake, Aleph Infotinuum Services recommends an enterprise-wide research spike into the feasibility of automating administrative workflows.

Trust your employer’s Minimum Viable Effort for managing its slice of the eternal infotinuum

Getting caught within an undertow of overkill is a recipe for bankruptcy.

After finding herself in a strange home, the storybook character Goldilocks made sure to seek out the perfect meal followed by the perfect nap. Recall what happened to Goldilocks after she frittered away the afternoon until some bears showed up. Eeeek! Talk about perfect being the enemy of good enough …

Setting achievable short-term goals is a laudable best practice, both for software development and for managing the infotinuum. Just as overeager software architectures can become anchors weighing down the engineers responsible for delivering usable products based on such pie-in-the-sky dreams, so too can IA (Information Architecture) eagerness ruin an enterprise’s content lifecycle program before anyone accesses a single single-sourced file.

Indeed, attempts to single-source every piece of content into some ultra-efficient information processing machine can result in a repository filled with modular snippets that for all practical purposes (i.e. aside from boilerplate) are unusable. Other potential pitfalls include escalating necessary plans for accurate metadata into a maelstrom of over-engineered megametadata, or shoehorning an existing business model into the cooooooool new features of the latest ECM solution.

Keep it simple. Keep it viable.

Slimming down your API’s internal JSON and data specifications can help to optimize the consumer experience

Software app developers will appreciate that you are making it easier for them to please their own customers.

When it comes to computer programming, writing is key to producing quality output — code and accompanying documentation alike. If the app developer consuming your API has problems understanding your meaning, you and your employer will have problems maintaining a base of API end users. That in turn represents a recipe for suddenly having an ex-employer.

Keep that readability imperative in mind whenever your enterprise embarks upon a program of internal code optimization. Sure, end users of applications based on your APIs will want assurances that their bandwidth requirements are kept to a minimum, especially if they’re on a mobile device. If, however, an extra few milliseconds will please the end user only at the expense of app developers being frustrated with the cryptic nature of your APIs and their accompanying data specs, a domino effect of dissatisfaction will harm first them and then you.

Don’t even think about optimizing as much as possible only to then pass the incoherence buck downstream (e.g. “The API is sleek and beautiful — they’re just too stupid to code with it well enough”). The fault would, of course, remain within your organization, so recall the notational frustration which the CopperSpice team encountered while trying to make sense of the Doxygen codebase.

Bttm ln: dnt b ovrly vrbse or ovrly sccnct.

A verbatim headline: “Why Most Academics Will Always Be Bad Writers”

The short answer is that they are trained like sea lions to become scholarly half-wits performing dialectical circus tricks for purposes of getting thrown a plundered fish.

Subsidies and Marxism and You Didn’t Build That. Oh my. Institutions of so-called higher education are high on something, over the rainbow in terms of epistemological vital signs. Ph.D has turned out to be an acronym for those who are intellectually PhlatlineD.

As the famous Underground Grammarian, Richard Mitchell described such a doctor-of-flatlined phenomenon within his book Less Than Words Can Say:

There you sit, minding your own business and hurting no man. All at once, quite insensibly, the thing creeps into your brain. It might end up in the storage shelves of the subjunctive or the switchboard of the nonrestrictive clauses, of course, but in your case it heads for the cozy nook where the active and passive voices are balanced and adjusted. There it settles in and nibbles a bit here and a bit there. In our present state of knowledge, still dim, we have to guess that the active voice is tastier than the passive, since the destruction of the latter is very rare but of the former all too common.

So there you are with your active verbs being gnawed away. Little by little and only occasionally at first, you start saying things like: “I am told that . . .” and “This letter is being written because . . .” This habit has subtle effects. For one thing, since passives always require more words than actives, anything you may happen to write is longer than it would have been before the attack of the worm. You begin to suspect that you have a lot to say after all and that it’s probably rather important. The suspicion is all the stronger because what you write has begun to sound — well, sort of “official.” “Hmm,” you say to yourself, “Fate may have cast my lot a bit below my proper station,” or, more likely, “Hmm. My lot may have been cast by Fate a bit below my proper station.”

College students experience what it’s like to have their papers graded by professors who themselves tend to be untalented writers. They do everything they can to impress the bureaucrats, fluffing up their amateur prose with the passive-voice sentence structure that makes them appear more scholarly and official. They spend literal decades sucking up to those who call themselves doctors of pretending to sound more official than they actually are. Indeed, the university system itself represents pretense of accredited officialdom.

Serving up streams for multi-screen viewer audiences: are QoS (Quality of Service) and QoE (Quality of Experience) things about which only consumers care?

To be fair, QoS and QoE are important to consumers and to producers that wish to remain solvent.

Those who follow the cord-cutting emergence of streaming video have noticed that so-called TV Everywhere is now popular, as is the ABR (Adaptive Bit Rate) encoding which enables different stream configurations for different viewing configurations (e.g. smartphones on the go with spotty WiFi connections as opposed to big screens in the living room with dedicated broadband services).

Consumers themselves remain as finicky as they’ve always been. Be grateful for such good news, because each person spends the vast majority of their life — even when they’re busy at work creating goods or services for others — consuming things that already exist (e.g. desks, steel-toed boots, lunches, etc.). For every incompetent business manager whining that consumers aren’t treating them with appropriate fairness (i.e. fealty) there are several who understand that economic health necessitates treating all issues from the standpoint of the consumer. The great 19th Century French economist Frederic Bastiat added the simple fact that “… the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race.”

What does that mean to competent managers who wish to help their employer remain profitable without coming across to consumers as whiny or worse? Business survivors learn to ask consumers about their subjective viewership opinions, and also to monitor from end to end, from the camera or server to the viewer’s screen, metrics from QoS and QoE analyses. Consumers care about the quality of their viewing experience, obviously, which implies that they care just as much about the various kinds of QA (Quality Assurance ) and QC (Quality Control) functions that will make or break any producer’s offering. Monitoring your employer’s assets is a way to ensure that all the streaming ducks are lined up in a row, and that they’ll stay in formation during their ether-swim toward their ultimate destination (e.g. a smartphone or a large screen).

Just be sure to watch out for those hunter blinds, by which Aleph Infotinuum Services means third party supply chain vendors (e.g. CDNs) that might be cutting a few corners within their own operations. Monitor their capabilities as well, and be prepared to let them know that it would be easy for your employer to court a competing vendor.