How the ‘composable enterprise’ can help solve upgrade headaches

Nick Ford is chief technology evangelist at Mendix.

There’s a lot to be said for a really snazzy Lego kit. Maybe it’s the Millennium Falcon that your front room is crying out for (complete with hinged smuggling compartments for hiding from the Empire). Or perhaps paying homage to the city of New York with a 1,600-piece Statue of Liberty is just the ticket.

Completing a Lego kit is extremely satisfying. You can take your time, work instruction by instruction and you know what you’re going to get. But once a kit is completed, there isn’t much more you can do with it – beyond kindly getting it out to impress your friends and family.

Lego is actually at its most versatile and creative when we ditch the kit and build brick by brick. That way, when your homemade rocket ship really needs a bulldozer or new set of fins, you can simply add them on.

It’s exactly the same when it comes to upgrading your IT architecture. Once upon a time, an upgrade meant completing a major overhaul, all at once. It took a lot of time and money, but you’d end up with a finished infrastructure that would serve the business.

But now, our IT needs are evolving too quickly for this traditional model. Moving to a composable enterprise enables businesses to add each application on “brick by brick”, creating a model that evolves with the business. And a low-code platform is the tool that will enable you to give your Lego mansion the rollercoaster upgrade you know it needs.

Kicking the Kragle

We all know that digital transformation is needed now more than ever. According to our research, COVID-19 – and the demand for home working – has led 54% of businesses to accelerate their digitalisation, to support the new remote workforce and keep up with customers’ rapidly changing needs.

That puts pressure on the IT team. And a complex IT infrastructure, that has to be upgraded all at once, is no longer appropriate for the times. A static architecture can be as difficult to adapt as a Lego kit that’s been hit with the dreaded Kragle (or glue-gun). As a result, businesses risk missing out on new tools and losing their competitive advantage, at a time when trading is tough.

Today, moving from hardware to software is no longer enough. Companies need to be able to easily upgrade one application at a time, to keep serving their staff and customers without risking any downtime or service disruption. It’s time to kick the Kragle.

Building brick by brick

Adopting a component-based architecture will help businesses remain adaptable to change. You have to embrace a new mindset when it comes to software development. Think of each app as a brick that you can build on top of your tech stack.

That means you can upgrade each specific application as and when you need to, whether it’s a new mobile banking app or a real-time collaboration tool. There’ll be lower costs, less disruption, and you’ll end up with an infrastructure fit for the future.

But it does mean using a new set of bricks – and that’s where low-code platforms come in. A low-code platform provides a sandbox to create any application and ensure it works with others.

Importantly, it works with any operating system and fits anywhere in the tech stack, so you can link different systems and avoid yet more integration headaches. A low-code platform makes it easier to switch from a static structure to more of a work-in-progress model.

A joint effort

Using a low-code platform means you can open application development to other people in the business, even those without coding experience. It’s very much like building with Lego; on a low-code platform, you can select functionality needed from an existing library, then drag and drop the component into a visual workflow. Skills like logic and collaboration are needed – but an in-depth knowledge of C++ isn’t.

This reduces the burden on developers, who already have plenty to be getting on with. And the IT team gets the oversight they need, without having to lay every brick themselves. At the same time, non-developers can bring their business application ideas to life, quickly. It’s a win-win.

With a low-code platform, technical and non-technical staff can work together more closely than ever before – and ultimately, the company ends up with the applications to effectively meet its needs, whatever they might be, faster than ever before.

The composable enterprise

Right now, businesses need an architecture that’s as adaptable as their people. Gone are the days when businesses could afford to overhaul their IT infrastructure every time an upgrade came around.

Creating a composable enterprise, with applications added as they’re needed, is the best way to keep up with change. Using a low-code platform will help to create an adaptable infrastructure – and engage more people from across the business. Build brick by brick, and the result will be something to be proud of.

Photo by Ken Suarez on Unsplash

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech ExpoBlockchain ExpoAI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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