Organizations on the cutting edge, the trendsetters, define the way others approach and conduct business, no matter the industry. Software companies are not immune to this phenomenon. Even the largest of enterprises define their roadmaps by what’s happening in the industry.
It is critical to stay ahead of software delivery trends. What is enterprise software and the trends that are shaping the way it is developed, distributed, and tested? Let’s explore…
What is “Enterprise Software”?
Before we dive into the trends, let’s take a quick look at what “enterprise software” means in this context. For the purposes of this article, we define it with five characteristics. First, it needs to be scalable. The exact scale of your application largely depends on your need, but needed scale should be understood at the beginning of a project to ensure that your architecture supports scaling to match the user growth expected.
Second, enterprise software needs to be flexible — it should support new features, the functional expansion of the application, and the addition of modules.
Next, enterprise software applications need to be robust, meaning that they need to execute well and without problems. Users need to be able to use applications smoothly and without issues.
Fourth, enterprise software needs to be secure. It should be built with security in mind and that security should be reviewed and tested throughout the application lifecycle.
Lastly, it needs to be manageable, meaning that characteristics one through four need to be achievable without excessive re-architecting, redesign or excessive cost.
With a definition of enterprise software, let’s jump into the industry trends we see shaping this space.
Trend #2: Serverless Architecture and Microservices
Microservices are atomic blocks of code performing individual tasks. Though it seems simple, it’s not as easy to achieve as it sounds. You have to put in the time up front to design your microservices – what they are, how they will store date, and how they will communicate with each other. Once you’ve done that there are a lot of advantages on the development side. Once done correctly, microservices provide smaller blocks of code that are easier to maintain.
Serverless architecture is another trend that builds on microservice concepts. Serverless functions let you deploy your small, manageable blocks of code directly to a cloud provider, and the cloud provider determines the needed infrastructure for your current load.
This simplifies the deployment and management of those microservices, because you no longer have a complex server or instance architecture to manage. You have a microservice — you coded it as a microservice, you’re deploying it as a microservice, you’re managing it as a microservice. Now that the big cloud providers have adopted this concept— whether its Azure Functions, AWS Lambda or Google Cloud Functions — this trend is growing even stronger.
Trend #3: DevOps First
DevOps has been around for over a decade and it’s an important part of all software development today (or it should be). The key for new projects is to be planning your DevOps approach and tooling while you’re thinking about how to design your application. Either as you’re writing your first line of code or before it, think about how the application is going to be deployed and tested. How is continuous integration going to work?
This is something that must be done as the application is being built, or even before it, so that you can reap all the advantages of DevOps and don’t miss out on the benefits. Once done, organizations gain all the benefits including: increased speed of delivery, reduced errors, and clearer visibility into application health.
Trend #4: Automated Testing
Today we’re seeing organizations strive for ever greater levels of automated test coverage, even working toward 100 percent coverage in many cases. Using an automated QA pipeline, unit testing, integration testing, api testing, and performance testing ensures you have complete coverage of the code. You also have a clearer picture of how the application is going to perform, and can take advantage of that in your delivery lifecycle.
Trend #5: Hybrid Architectures
Hybrid architectures combine cloud infrastructure with on-premises infrastructure to give you both performance and scalability. What we’ve seen in this trend is that enterprises want to take advantage of using the cloud for the advantages it provides, but also want to leverage the benefits of on-prem infrastructure.
Trend #6: Cloud Agnosticism
While the cloud is powerful and allows everyone to access the right amount of computing power and services for their current needs, many companies do not want to be locked in to a single cloud provider. Once locked in they are subject to cost changes and will have a harder time moving from provider to provider.
If an application is built properly using containers, container management, and new tools like Terraform that allow infrastructure to be deployed in any cloud (or on prem) it is possible to build an application and supporting infrastructure that is not dependent on any particular cloud provider but can be ported to different providers quite easily.