‘Federal fixation’ leaves software vendors at a loss
August 16, 2017
Commentary: The founder and CEO of Everlaw encourages IT vendors not to overlook the state and local government market and offers a few tips to get started.
Commentary: Pete Eichorn, director of technology for NIC, says modular microservices are the answer to the slow software development cycle found in many agencies.
Pete Eichorn is the director of technology of NIC, a digital solutions provider for state, local and federal government. Before joining the ra...
Microservices have a big future in digital government.
Digital government services have been primarily built using a custom approach. This can produce enormous code bases that must be maintained. The complexity of custom code can make it difficult to reuse much of the code base and limit the ability to adjust quickly to fluctuating constituent needs. Even small enhancements or fixes mean the entire application must go through another lengthy development, testing and deployment process.
Enter microservices, little powerhouses that have the potential to change all that.
Microservices are small software components that can operate independently. Each one carries out a specific task, such as verifying addresses or running an application’s user profile functionality. Using APIs, microservices can “talk" to each other, and therefore, they can be constructed to work together in a single, cohesive application to achieve big-picture business goals.
While traditional code deployments are like a brick wall, microservices are like interlocking blocks that can be put together in limitless configurations to create larger, smaller or more intricate designs. A block can be removed or replaced without compromising the integrity of the overall structure. How the blocks work together is entirely flexible, just as microservices are within applications.
Having become accustomed to a Google/Amazon/Twitter/Netflix digital environment, citizens and businesses anticipate comparable ease and speed when they interact with government — no matter what devices they’re using. Any government agency that wants to meet constituents’ expectations should begin thinking about microservices as a means for delivering intuitive, simple-to-use interactions. Here’s why:
Microservices will change the future of government IT. That said, there are some considerations to take into account with this approach:
Of course, with the right vision, tools, automation and knowledge, these challenges easily can be addressed. Constituents’ expectations of fast and flexible service delivery have put government at an inflection point, and agencies must develop applications differently than they have in the past. Microservices solve the development problems government needs to solve and are well worth investigating.