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The Future of Microservices as the IT World Changes: Uwe Friedrichsen at microXchg Berlin

| by Jan Stenberg Follow 34 Followers on Mar 28, 2018. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

You have finally mastered Microservices, including Docker and Kubernetes, and some other new cool trends, "but are you prepared for the future?", Uwe Friedrichsen asked in his presentation at microXchg 2018, held in Berlin, in which he explored the future of IT and the consequences for microservices.

Friedrichsen, CTO at codecentric, started by claiming that today you can’t run any non-trivial company without IT, and you can’t change anything on the business side without touching IT. During the last five decades IT has changed a lot, but so has the business. Today IT is:

  • The nervous system of the business
  • An enabler of (disruptive) new business models. One example is cloud computing, which has enabled new kind of business and companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Airbnb
  • An integral part of the business model (digitization)
  • The medium for continuous customer communication

Looking into the future, Friedrichsen sees two meta trends. The first is digitization, which is a blurry term, yet an important change driver. At it's core it means that IT becomes an integral part of the business offerings. As a consequence, cross-domain boundaries start to dissolve. When offerings are available through an API, organisations can combine APIs that are available from other companies, thus creating their own enhanced offerings.

His second meta trend is customer expectations, which includes great user experience, multi-device capabilities and strong security. It also requires the ability to adapt to the changing needs of customers.

From these two meta trends Friedrichsen distilled five concrete IT trends:

Moving fast

  • Minimize cycle times to accelerate the feedback loop
  • Response to business model uncertainty
  • The goal is to minimize idle and value-reducing performances

Friedrichsen claimed that this is what DevOps actually is about; automation is a side effect.

Focus on frontends

  • The battle for customers gets decided in the frontend
  • Backends just need to work; they become a commodity
  • UX and UI design becomes key differentiators

Cloud-native and serverless

  • Reduce vertical integration depth
  • Focus on value-creating IT performance to move faster
  • Newest incarnation of "make or buy"
  • Managed services as successor of standard software
  • Function as a Service (FaaS) to orchestrate managed services
  • Managed containers and batch lobs for deep business logic

Ambient Computing

  • Mobile-first is just a transitional step towards human-centred user interfaces
  • Context-aware computing and UIs, where the device adapts to the context; at home, in a shopping mall and so on
  • New types of human interaction, voice, gestures and so on, augmented by AR and VR interface capabilities

As an example of a challenge, Friedrichsen mentioned the difference between creating a nice user interface for a mobile and working with a voice stream.

Information security

The last trend was information security, which for Friedrichsen is desperately needed. It must be an integral part of the process of building software from the very beginning, not an afterthought, which is so common today.

Looking at these five trends Friedrichsen claimed that microservices is just a transitional step. They were really needed as a supporting architectural style for going fast, but they are also hard to master. You need to understand distributed systems and in his experience most of the people he has met that claim to do microservices doesn’t understand the complexity in distributed systems. We therefore need to reduce the intellectual load, without slowing down, and for that serverless is well-suited. He believes that over time microservices will in most cases dissolve into serverless.

Friedrichsen concluded by stating what he thinks will be important in the future:

  • Learn and do agile for real. Agile is for tackling uncertainty, not about stand-ups or endless backlogs with user stories
  • Master the foundation of good system design, it is more relevant than ever
  • Embrace distributed systems
  • Serverless as the next consistent evolutionary step
  • Frontends will become crucial
  • Backend will become commodity

The presentations at the conference were recorded; some are already published with more to come.

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