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May 7, 2019By Bruno Kurtic

The Why Behind Modern Architectures

These days we spend a lot of time talking about modernizing our stack, modernizing our architectures, using new application components, modern application life cycles, etc. So, what is this all about and why do we spend so much time talking about it? First, there is a lot of self-serving vendor speak involved…starting with cloud providers and closely followed by open source commercialization shops and commercial ISVs (ourselves included) who have to spin the world in their own image. Nothing wrong with pushing for a buck if it returns more bucks to users, but this whole spiel misses the “why” did this modernization even come about in the first place.

Modernization of IT stack, primarily in form of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, as well as application architecture and components, did not come first, it came second. It was the chicken, or the egg, depending on your position toward the chicken vs. the egg and which of the two came first.

IMHO, it came SECOND. Let me use myself as a case study. I don’t want to pay for cable. You know, that fixed pipe of copper that sends the TV signals to my house all the time, when I’m sleeping, when I’m on vacation, all the DARN time, and it sends a signal for everything under the sun, literally, every program available. And it also costs a pretty penny, nearly $200 per month, and that bill often fluctuates inexplicably. Instead, I prefer to pay for and only be delivered the programming that I care to see. Things like The Super Bowl, or new releases of shows like Grand Tour, Archer, Better Call Saul, or Great British Baking Show, but I won’t admit it. This is the case today, everywhere. We do our bills on weekends, we file our taxes in April, we do most of our shopping in November and December, we exercise on weekends, travel on Thanksgiving - we are the consumers. Businesses that serve us better are the ones that are able to respond to us better, the ones that provides us with the best experience as we do the things we want to do when we want to do them. Gone are the days when the only way of buying something you wanted meant you had to find a store that sells said thing, and finding a way to get there during the store’s business hours, and then buy said thing. The store is now in my hands and the store has the hours that I tell it to have.

What’s my point here? Consumers want service, where they want it, when they want it, and that service better be delightful, convenient, frictionless, and cool. Consumers have demanded to be served digitally, starting in the 1990s when we realized we could get banks to do all our banking without ever stepping foot into a physical branch and waiting in lines while under close scrutiny of CCTV. Thus, consumers demand and businesses need to respond. The most successful enterprises such as Netflix, that eliminated my need to spend an hour going to the store and picking my movies, AirBnB, that made it possible to stay anywhere vs in one or two commercial establishments in some small town, and Uber, that makes it easier and safer to get anywhere any time, have found a way to build a digital business model that fits what we as humans want.

Modernization of IT stack, of application architectures, has come upon us because businesses are trying to find better ways of serving their customers. Agile and DevOps have evolved because businesses wanted to differentiate from competitors by accelerating innovation and delivering new products and services to customers sooner. Hint, consumers love that stuff. Microservices evolved because it was easier to burst capacity to respond to a lunch time rush and continue to deliver a delightful customer experience. Cloud evolved to enable enterprises to experiment and reduce the risk associated with large capital expenditure and to reduce the risk of experimenting with new ideas, products, and services.

This is great for consumers and is a pretty big change and added complexity to enterprises, which are all now, per Marc Andreessen, software businesses. And as we know already, problems flow down hill. And Sumo Logic is down hill, so we had to deal with those changes also. Our customers’ customers want to be able to do everything in 30 days out of the year, which means we had to help their chosen vendor do everything during 30 days of the year. Our customers’ customers want to have one-touch payments, which meant that we had to become PCI Provide Level I certified because our customers manage PII and PAN data of their customers. In essence, we grew up in this digital world and didn’t know any other world before it. So we were not burdened by it. We didn’t know what it meant to rack and stack servers and what it meant to have fixed infrastructure. We didn’t know what it meant to write apps in 3 tier architecture. We just knew that our customers would be sending us an undetermined amount of data, they expected it to be ingested and ready in real-time, they expected it to be securely managed, and they expected our app to be delightful. So, we obliged. There are things we want to do better and that we are working to do better, but we don’t know of any other way. We are in it with our customers and we are in it with our customers’ customers.

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Bruno Kurtic

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