The systems integrator’s changing role in a microservices world


By Paul Williams

If there is one word that encapsulates what business wants from modern technology, it’s agility. And it is this thirst for agility that has heightened interest in microservices. Microservices, as a service-oriented software development technique, represent an interesting challenge for both system integrators and their clients alike, because they demand a move away from existing engagement models. The fixed, single-use solution has started to disappear as organizations seek faster ways to deploy end-user tools and new customer services.

“Will the solution use microservices?” “Can you build it using microservices?” As a systems integrator, we frequently hear these questions from clients and business owners, from innovation leaders, and from technologists. In today’s competitive digital economy, businesses need to rapidly provision IT services to defend existing market positions and open up new revenue streams — and microservices are a quick and efficient way to do that.

I heartily endorse the concept of microservices, but what are they, what do they mean for system integrators and their clients, and how does this technology change what we do today and how we will engage in the future?

An architectural style

Microservices are the building blocks of an architectural style that structures a large, complex application as a collection of smaller, modular services. Microservices are:

  • Highly maintainable and testable
  • Loosely coupled
  • Independently deployable
  • Organized around business capabilities
  • Owned by a small team

Microservice design won’t suit every organisation, but for those keen to facilitate business agility, there are lots of good reasons to “break down the monolith.” Amongst other benefits, microservices increase resilience, improve scalability, and provide independent and faster time-to-market.

But adapting to this architecture means changing the way you work as a team, the technology choices you make and how your organisation goes to market.

Break down the big rollout

As organisations shift to a microservice-based approach, they will no longer undertake largescale implementation projects – the days of large solution rollouts are numbered. Instead, they will be looking for micro-solutions, quick wins, short-term engagements and capabilities delivered as a service or subscription.

The way system integrators engage with clients will also change. We need to be open to altering our delivery model to suit these new demands. Developers need to engage at the client coalface, creating end-user-driven solutions that are self-sufficient and built around specific business initiatives.

At DXC Technology, we have found it’s critical to continually fine-tune our service delivery models to match technology trends and better serve customers. This has involved retooling our delivery services to facilitate the provision of smaller, consumable capabilities that follow open principles and enable a consumption-based integration model.

Breadth and depth of expertise is paramount

Where once system integrators assembled big project teams delivering one comprehensive solution, the focus is shifting to building smaller teams with diversified skills across different technologies and development languages. Increasingly, a system integrator’s role is to create capabilities as services, allowing customers to select the elements they want to consume in order to gain competitive advantage.

Microservices need to be independent and loosely coupled, and a system integrator’s capability should be built out in a matching fashion. Instead of project-based teams of people, system integrators need to leverage service-based teams with a particular capability or solution that they evolve over time.

Delivery teams will increasingly “own” particular microservice capabilities, providing them as subscription-based capabilities that other delivery teams can leverage or that the customer can integrate directly.

Driving down IT costs

With clients looking to drive the cost of IT down, system integrators need to optimize their most expensive but least efficient resource – people. By creating independently deployable service-oriented solutions, we can move from the traditional “bums on seats” project delivery approach and deliver pre-packaged services that are light-touch, incorporate self-service and require little or no customisation.

Microservices are a great way for clients to evolve their technology stack piece by piece in a rapid and reliable way. They are also an effective way for systems integrators to bring down IT costs and give customers the agility they demand.

Paul-Williams-headshotPaul Williams is DXC’s SAP Intelligent Customer Experience Global CTO and is responsible for the technical evolution, development and enablement of Intelligent Customer Experience (ICX) offerings globally. Paul is a technically minded offering development and innovation focused executive manager with proven digital transformation and leadership credentials. He has founded, scaled, and operated award-winning offering delivery practices with a focus on customer experience and digital transformation across multiple global regions.

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