On the road of digital transformation, hold a map, but you have to go your own way

Time:2021-10-24

Introduction:The author of this paper comes from the R & D center of China Life Insurance Co., Ltd. and has senior experience in enterprise digital transformation and cloud native practice. The following contents are compiled from the author’s comments on the newly published Alibaba cloud native architecture practice.

Author Xiao Sheng

The author of this paper comes from the R & D center of China Life Insurance Co., Ltd. and has senior experience in enterprise digital transformation and cloud native practice. The following contents are compiled from the author’s comments on the newly published Alibaba cloud native architecture practice.

Initial heart

As it practitioners in the financial industry, participating in the digital transformation process of traditional enterprises, we have been thinking about two questions: first, what is digitization and why? Second, how to promote digital transformation, and how to plan and adjust the path, tools and organization?

We often confuse the concepts of informatization and digitization, thinking that we have completed the IT construction goal by launching some business systems or putting in some digital market. But in fact, this may only change the form of some information and data flow to the leadership, and the working mode of the whole business has not changed; The original manual operation still needs manual operation, and the processes that should be followed have to be followed (even some processes have been added in the new system), and the efficiency has not changed significantly; Whether the enterprise’s performance has been improved, if so, it is positively related to it construction, cost-effective, etc. these often lack effective evaluation methods, and it is easy to fall into the pit of pseudo digitization.


Any architecture must serve the enterprise strategy, and the cloud native architecture is no exception!

Enterprises must be clear about the relationship between business strategy and cloud IT strategy, that is, whether cloud IT strategy is only the necessary technical support for business strategy, or whether cloud IT strategy itself is also a part of business strategy.

I very much agree with the viewpoint mentioned in Alibaba cloud native architecture practice. Technology ultimately serves enterprise value. Therefore, we believe that digitization is based on the ability of informatization to improve the business model, aggregate all links and data in the whole value chain, and focus on guiding business operation and decision-making; The final form of expression is the intelligent form of “full amount and full element data + automation + real-time”.


The main demands of digital business on technical architecture are to ensure business continuity, rapid business launch, business cost control, and technology enabled business innovation.

In order to enable the business development team to deliver high quality faster and more stably to meet the faster and faster business needs, “small front end, large middle end / large back end” is the necessary way. Because only by making the front end lighter can the business development team focus more on business and deliver more agile; The middle stage and back-end are more important. High quality design and specifications are precipitated, and the reuse of best practices is higher.

The core idea can be summarized in one word -“sink”。

When we sink the public technical capabilities and methods into the development framework, the basic platform and the automatic standard process, the applications built based on these capabilities can be very agile and are born in a high-quality architecture system (just the so-called winning at the starting line),The cloud native architecture is the best practice methodology for this capability.

set out


Cloud native architecture is a collection of architecture principles and design patterns based on cloud native technology, which aims to help enterprises and developers make full use of the platform capabilities and elastic resource capabilities provided by the cloud platform.

Cloud native includes cloud native technology, cloud native products, cloud native architecture and the development concept of building modern applications.

Modern applications and cloud native applications are built or implemented based on cloud native architecture and development concepts, such as 7 architecture principles such as service principle and elasticity principle, 10 architecture modes such as computing storage separation mode and event driven mode, and R & D concepts such as Devops and gitops.

Cloud native architecture and cloud native development concept are built or implemented based on cloud native technologies and products, including more than ten technologies and products, such as container technology, Devops technology, micro services, service mesh, serverless, cloud native big data, cloud native AI, cloud native security, etc. Among them, the concept of open application model (OAM) is refreshing. It expands the standardized declaration of resources in PAAS to the standardized declaration of application and configuration, “making simple applications simpler and complex applications easier to manage”.

Finally, cloud native products and cloud native technologies need cloud infrastructure based on public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud. The original composition of cloud is such a progressive relationship.

The way we walked


Cloud native architecture upgrade is a complete upgrade of the enterprise’s entire IT architecture. When upgrading the cloud native architecture, each organization must tailor its own clothes according to the enterprise’s own situation. Among them, organizational capability and technology stack are equally important.

On the road of digital transformation, the historical burden of traditional enterprises is really not small. Carrying out structural transformation without stopping business is tantamount to changing engines, operating processes and even crew of aircraft in flight.

The author comes from China Life Insurance Co., Ltd. and has personally experienced a case of service-oriented technology upgrading. When we have to, cloud native technology gives us a new answer.

In the early stage of it construction, there are many chimney systems; With more and more systems, the demand for interaction between systems is increasing, and the demand for service is put on the agenda. More than a decade ago, the concept of SOA represented by bus architecture was popular, and various systems connected to the service bus one after another. However, with the rise of the mobile Internet, the service pressure has doubled year by year, and the bottleneck of the bus architecture has gradually emerged. A jitter of the bus is easy to block all kinds of services, which is exacerbated by the introduction of the micro service architecture.

At this time, the service registration discovery mode is mature, and the new systems are implemented by spring cloud and similar products, but the existing systems can not be transformed in this invasive way, which has high cost and high risk; Moreover, with the emergence of multiple programming languages, it is also difficult to implement the same service governance between different languages. We have no choice but to maintain the service bus and try to improve its robustness from the architecture level. Until a few years ago, we heard about the concept of service grid, which is a non-invasive sidecar model, we realized that the answer came. At present, we are in the process of full grid.

The sidecar model itself is not new, but why is it popular again in recent years? In the final analysis, it is the maturity of cloud native technologies such as container technology and Devops, which solves the problem of operation and maintenance cost and efficiency of massive sidecar. Therefore, cloud native technology itself pays attention to timing and complementarity, and we, as applications, follow the trend to “break the original steady state and build a new steady state”.


In addition, the design of cloud native architecture also needs to consider the change of organizational structure. A very important cloud native architecture principle mentioned earlier is service-oriented (including micro services, small services, etc.). A typical principle in this field is Conway’s law, which requires that the enterprise’s technical architecture and communication architecture must be consistent, otherwise it will lead to abnormal service-oriented architecture, and even increase the cost of organizational communication and the phenomenon of “wrangling”.

People are the first factor in the implementation of any scheme. Conway’s law will be mentioned when giving technical classes to new colleagues or sharing architecture. The product structure is the epitome of the organizational structure. In more vernacular, it is “the ass determines the head”. The implementation of some technical structures or management processes, the organizational structure is a barrier that can not be bypassed; Without making major adjustments to the organizational structure, the scheme we choose is not necessarily the most ideal, but the most appropriate under the current organizational structure.

As for ourselves, we need to always remind ourselves to jump out of the circle defined by the organizational structure and look at problems and think about solutions from the whole process, the whole scene and a higher level.

Own way


However, it should be noted that cloud computing service companies, including AWS, Alibaba cloud and Microsoft, have not built their cloud service software architecture system in full accordance with these software architecture standards. This is not accidental, because these companies are fully aware that the software architecture based on cloud computing should be a software architecture suitable for non centralized organizations, rather than the traditional software architecture based on centralized organizations. Therefore, the traditional software architecture standards need to be further customized and tailored for the cloud native architecture in order to give better play to its value. Software architecture design pattern will have the interest concerns used in traditional software architecture design methods, but it is different in specific design methods.

Of course, having a map doesn’t mean you won’t get lost. From the enterprise to the team, each organization has its own pain points and demands, as well as corresponding culture and advantages. After choosing the right direction, the specific landing must also explore the road in line with the enterprise’s own characteristics, which needs continuous practice and trial and error. Ali ACNA architecture design method and its maturity model evaluation system can be used as a reference for the evolution degree and effect of technical architecture in digital transformation.


The technology strategy of the enterprise is gradually transferred to the direction of business architecture and its governance “. With the deepening and popularization of Devops, the application delivery process will be more standardized. The increase of cloud service types will also give birth to new development models and development frameworks.

Finally, I still want to emphasize returning to the original heart. Technology serves the enterprise value, comprehensively evaluates the return on investment, and finally helps the enterprise reduce cost, increase efficiency, reduce risk and improve experience.

recommend

Nowadays, it has become an inevitable trend for enterprises to go to the cloud. As a new technology concept born in the cloud computing era, cloud native enables enterprises to realize the transformation from “going to the cloud” to “going to the cloud” in the way of cloud. Alibaba cloud native architecture practice is officially produced by Alibaba cloud and jointly recommended by Zhang Jianfeng, President of Alibaba cloud intelligence, and Cheng Li, chief technology officer of Alibaba; Comprehensively summarize the methodology and practical experience of Alibaba cloud’s native architecture from multiple dimensions such as design principles, patterns / anti patterns, technical options, design methods and industry cases.

Copyright notice:The content of this article is spontaneously contributed by Alibaba cloud real name registered users, and the copyright belongs to the original author. Alibaba cloud developer community does not own its copyright or bear corresponding legal liabilities. Please refer to Alibaba cloud developer community user service agreement and Alibaba cloud developer community intellectual property protection guidelines for specific rules. If you find any content suspected of plagiarism in the community, fill in the infringement complaint form to report. Once verified, the community will immediately delete the content suspected of infringement.

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