But real challenges arise with APIs: how to organise governance, where to start, what to do about the on-premise part of the architecture, which technology to choose, and so on.
In this N-sight, we brought together four organisations to share their real-life yet very different cases, including how they rethought their architecture and successfully worked with microservices and APIs.
The presentations from the N-sight are available for our members (after login).
Case: The journey from customer expectations to an API-first platform
"Designing the strategy was a 10-minute job, developing it will probably be a 10-year journey," began Yves Heylen, Head of Digital at Vink. The company questioned customers extensively, mapped their expectations and potential frustrations, and built a strategy to respond. Digitisation was a key part, with the setup of a digital services platform (slide 10).
The customer lifecycle became part of the digitisation (slide 11), while the B2B procurement process evolved as well, with customer convenience becoming a true differentiator. An API-first strategy lead to an easy to govern e-commerce platform (slide 15)
In the present:
→ Low customer loyalty
In the future:
→ Stabilisation of customer loyalty through UX on IoT devices
With the platform up and running, and receiving positive customer feedback, next steps were defined:
Vink uses Argo CD to monitor and govern the APIs, and Trello to manage the further roadmap and developing processes.
The largest challenge now is the personalisation of the customer journey. Within 2 years, Vink hopes to set up highly personalised information and services.
To wrap up, Yves explained that the company culture and proper change management is obviously indispensable.
Case: Microservices in a governmental context
FOD BoSa (Policy and Support) was born in March 2017, with 4 'parents':
The DG Digital Transformation 'parent' covers different angles:
Starting in 2016, multiple initiatives have been taken to gradually modernise the technology stack (slide 7), with several applications now built:
Davy zoomed in on the Citizen e-Box, now operational through different document senders, document providers, federal overview (sorting centre) and the user interface (slide 9). Although not foreseen in the original concept, this Citizen e-Box also relies on both ‘read APIs’ and 'write APIs' (slides 11-12).
Case: Straightening the tower of Pisa
"Why is everything from IT so late and so expensive?" This was a question Geert Goethals, CIO at Proximus, regularly received a few years ago when preparing for a new IT strategy and landscape.
You need to address issues from the bottom up, he said, but the requirements are numerous:
Plus, the landscape at Proximus is complex (slide 6).
In a business project-driven context and an application-oriented landscape, CAPEX is spent to deliver as quickly and cheaply as possible. This causes the architectural complexity (debt) to keep growing and the project implementation to become more complicated, expensive and time-consuming
Proximus wanted to provide a better customer experience: “how can we create a better customer journey, with optimally streamlined processes and based on better systems?” The answer was modular architecture (slide 10).
Achieving the goal required 'slicing the elephant':
Geert’s recommendations for a successful project:
Case: API Management and microservices at FEDNOT
The final case was shared by Jolien Jans, API platform manager, and Daniel Bram, Solution Architect, from Fednot. Fednot’s ICT department has the goal to ‘enforce, support, simplify, automate and innovate, where possible, the working of the notaries so they can deliver the best service possible to the citizens’.
Fednot is transforming:
APIs are the glue between the strategic drivers (slide 7). In Fednot’s API-first strategy:
When building your API strategy, don't jump to your RFP track, pilot and implementation, Jolien stresses. Before that, start with the development of your business strategy, a roadmap and IT workshops.
Fednot has chosen an API management solution, with a gateway, an API manager (to build APIs), an analytical server and (very important) the API developer portal (slide 19).
"Designing the strategy was a 10 minute job, developing it will probably be a 10 year journey". @yvesheylen shares the #Vink journey towards an #APIfirst platform.#ArchitectureStrategy #APIARchitecture #MicroServices #MultiCloud #CloudStrategy #KnowledgeSharing pic.twitter.com/Yt0Dxmswz9— Beltug (@Beltug) February 12, 2020
After a modernisation of the technology stack, @fodspfbosa implemented several applications, relying on #MicroServices and APIs. Davy Toch zooms in on the Citizen #eBox.#ArchitectureStrategy #APIARchitecture #MicroServices #MultiCloud #CloudStrategy #KnowledgeSharing pic.twitter.com/Zd7Vi8FWCk— Beltug (@Beltug) February 12, 2020
In a context of existing processes and legacy systems, the journey towards a modular architecture sounds easier than it is. "Slice the elephant", is Geert Goethals' advice. @ProximusGroup @proximus #APIArchitecture #MicroServices #MultiCloud #KnowledgeSharing pic.twitter.com/8Ez2kUPvSy— Beltug (@Beltug) February 12, 2020
Transforming the notary portfolio from 'have-to' services to 'want-to' services. Jolien Jans explains how @NotarisBe taks on their #DigitalTransformation and how an #APIfirst strategy fits into that goal.#ArchitectureStrategy #APIARchitecture #MicroServices #KnowledgeSharing pic.twitter.com/rOwfT7dNPN— Beltug (@Beltug) February 12, 2020
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