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HCLSoftware: Fueling the Digital+ Economy

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Microservices are a powerful development approach as part of a technology architecture strategy. They provide incredible flexibility in updating / maintaining each microservice, without affecting the others. This extends to scalability as well, allowing a microservice to scale as needed, independent of the others – potentially helping with efficiency and reducing costs.  

Let’s start with an analogy to put us in the right mind

One of our strategic leaders made a helpful analogy describing the microservices approach – equating it to a mom or dad deciding to build their child a tree house and going into a do-it-yourself store to buy all of the component parts. If you have the time to research what parts you need, in what quantities and how they should fit together then great, you can build a custom tree house for your kids – if you have the expertise to actually assemble it. It will take a while, there will likely be trial and error and missteps, but once you get it working, reliable and safe, you will be the envy of your neighborhood parents. But there will inherently be a lot of questions. How long will it (should it?) take? How safe and reliable is it…are you willing to take the risk? How much effort will it require to keep it safe and reliable? Will it deliver the experience it should? Can you really afford to have a period of trial and error when it comes to safety and reliability?

If you don’t have the expertise or time to pick out the parts, you can pay someone who does. Similarly, if you don’t have the expertise or time to assemble the parts into a tree-house, you can hire someone who does – both of these routes will help reduce the risk as you are relying on an expert with real-world experience and best practices – but that adds significant cost.

An alternative option [HCL Commerce] is to find a pre-designed tree house with all the parts you need and only requires the assembly – and a very simplified assembly at that. You save significant time in the overall build, not to mention the reduction or complete avoidance of any trial and error and the additional cost of hiring specific experts to help build it.  You know that the design is tried and trusted because it comes from a company that only does tree-house design and construction. Stepping out of the tree-house analogy for a moment, the right platform built around business services will also empower you to customize in order to create differentiation.

So ask yourself, when it’s all done, do you think your child would care that you built it from scratch? Or do they just care that it does what it’s supposed to do – provide them a place to play and have fun?

So why aren’t microservices the right choice for ecommerce?

The challenge with taking a purely IT centric microservices approach, is that you can end up creating hundreds of discrete services that become a nightmare to assemble when you want to support a business use case.  As one client told us, it was death by a thousand papercuts to try to manage and maintain these services, but moreover, when it came time to take a business requirement and implement, it was easier for the development team to just build a new service.

Which microservices are relied upon for peak campaigns? Which need to be prepared for a sale or promotion? What microservices can support voice shopping or other IoT applications? Who owns each microservice and is responsible for its health and effectiveness?

This creates a tremendous strain to everything from time to market, to testing, and prevents clients from actually being able to pivot and adapt to what is a fast changing landscape. So the very value of what a pure microservices architecture was meant to give you, turns out to be a hinderance to speed and agility at any scale.

We, as HCL Commerce, in working with our clients, see that the real capabilities our clients want and need are a set of relevant and robust “business services”  that provide the benefits of microservices, balanced with the needs of the market in a pre-built, ready to go configuration so you can focus on delivering a great experience at a low total cost of ownership.  By providing this, our clients get the best of all worlds – you can adopt the capabilities where you see value, and you can adapt or add your own services where you want to truly differentiate.  The real sweet spot, based on our clients feedback is, I want to avoid the “death by a thousand paper cuts” microservices players, but also don’t want to be just a part of the herd with a pure SaaS offering. 

Our view simply is to let our clients provide engaged experiences to sell more, your way on an architecture that supports completely adoption through to custom innovation on an architecture that is completely API driven, with robust business services.

To learn more about how HCL Commerce is delivering business services to the benefit of our customers, reach out to schedule a conversation or a demo.

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