Cloud-based Manufacturing • March 22, 2021

How A Microservices Architecture Can Reduce Technical Debt

His new program is running smoothly

Over the past year, much has been presented on the “what, why, and when” of technical debt. Last May I explained, “Why Now is the Time to Cut Technical Debt,” and why the coronavirus and the technological transformation it was driving made the current time perfect for investment. In a recent guest blog, Dan Miklovic of The Analyst Syndicate pointed out how the right technology partners could help you manage your technical debt more effectively. In this post, I dig deeper into the growing interest in microservices and how this technology is emerging as one of the better ways to manage and reduce technical debt.

Microservices are Like Microfinance in the Context of Technical Debt

In the financial world, microlending is seen as one of the best ways to enable underserved populations that are either disadvantaged in developed countries, or those seeking new access to capital in developing countries. In both cases, this new financing mechanism has been shown to help individuals become financially better off through entrepreneurial efforts.

Muhammad Yunas, one of the pioneers in microloans at the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work in helping the poor. His idea of providing small amounts of debt with frequent small repayments has made an extraordinary impact on eradicating poverty. The Microfinance industry has emerged, engaging in microlending, to fund communities in the developing world, as well as disadvantaged entrepreneurs in the UK and other developed countries, to create new and thriving businesses and local economies.

Are You Digitally Distraught or Determined?

Today companies are relentlessly pursuing new investment in digital transformation and automation to drive performance improvement. However, there are a group of firms that are stuck in a vicious “payday” loop whereby investment dollars are being allocated to pay the interest on their technical debt. Without a way forward, this loop is now strangling their future profitability and the chance to emerge as an industry leader or disrupter.

A growing divide is emerging between those organizations that are “Digitally Distraught” or “Digitally Determined.” The former tend to be locked into monolithic and resource-intensive enterprise applications generated considerable overhead requirements and technical debt. The latter have shed this debt so can invest in their future, providing opportunities for greater profitability and future digital investment.

Manufacturers can now apply lessons learned in the microfinance model when considering future operations management and technology investment. While the growth of investment in Industry 4.0 digital programs has certainly accelerated with COVID-driven business shifts, numerous initiatives are competing for budget dollars. At many manufacturing companies, Operations Technology (OT) solutions like Manufacturing Execution (MES) or Quality Management (QMS) don’t necessarily have the “boardroom” visibility to command center stage attention during capital planning exercises.

Now it is possible to still pursue an aggressive OT refresh while keeping investment at a manageable level. Adopting a new solution based on a microservices architecture lets you deploy incrementally and recoup benefits quickly – much like taking out a series of microloans, paying them back, and then taking out new ones to add new performance or capabilities.

My colleague, Sung Kim, in a blog post from August 2020 elaborated on why “In MES, Microservices Deliver High Benefits.”  This article explains why iBase-t decided to rearchitect its product portfolio on a microservices platform, which we now call the Solumina iSeries platform. This way, manufacturers can now better afford access to a world-class Manufacturing Execution System (MES) by deploying or upgrading in a phased approach that is far less resource-intensive that can be done without any production disruption or delay. As new features and functions become available, companies can make smaller investments to get immediate access instead of having to wait until they can justify and fund a major upgrade.

Learn more about the iSeries, iBase-t Launches Solumina iSeries at Excelerate Innovation 2020 

The question for you is this: what camp do you want to be in? The Digitally Distraught or Determined? What steps are you taking to take control of your future?

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