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2020 Blog, Blog, Digital Blog, Featured

In our increasingly digitized world, companies across industries are embarking on digital transformation journeys to transform their infrastructure, application architecture and footprint to a more modern technology stack, one that allows them to be nimble and agile when it comes to maintainability, scalability, easier deployment (smaller units can be deployed frequently).

Old infrastructure and the traditional ways of building applications are inhibiting growth for large enterprises, mid-sized and small businesses. Rapid innovation is needed to rollout new business models, optimize business processes, and respond to new regulations. Business leaders and employees understand the need for this agility – everyone wants to be able to connect to their Line of Business (LOB) systems through mobile devices or remotely in a secure and efficient manner, no matter how old or new these systems are, and this is where Application Modernization comes in to picture.

A very interesting use case was shared with us by our large Financial Asset management customer. They had a legacy application, which was 15+ years old and having challenges like tightly coupled business modules, code base/solution maintainability, complexity in implementing lighter version of workflow, modular way of deploying key features, legacy technology stack based application, etc. To solve this problem we had a solid envisioning phase for future state application by considering the next generation solution architecture approach, latest technology stack, value add for the business – lighter version of workflow engine, responsive design & End–to–End (E2E) DevOps solution.

Legacy Application Modernizations/Platform Re-Engineering
Legacy application modernization projects intend to create new business value from existing, aging applications by updating or replacing them with modern technologies, features and capabilities. By migrating the legacy applications, business can include the latest functionalities that better align with where business needs transformation & success.

These initiatives are typically designed and executed with phased rollouts that will replace certain functional feature sets of the legacy application with each successive rollout, eventually evolving into a complete, new, agile, modern application that is feature-rich, flexible, configurable, scalable and maintainable in future.

Monolithic Architecture Vs Microservices Architecture – The Big Picture

Monolithic Architecture

  • Traditional way of building applications
  • An application is built as one large system and is usually one codebase
  • Application is tightly coupled and gets entangled as the application evolves
  • Difficult to isolate services for purposes such as independent scaling or code maintainability
  • Usually deployed on a set of identical servers behind a load balancer
  • Difficult to scale parts of the application selectively
  • Usually have one large code base and lack modularity. If developers community wants to update or change something, they access the same code base. So, they make changes in the whole stack at once

The following diagram depicts an application built using Monolithic Architecture

Microservices Architecture

  • Modern way of building applications
  • A microservice application typically consists of many services
  • Each service has multiple runtime instances
  • Each service instance needs to be configured, deployed, scaled, and monitored

Microservices Architecture – Tenets
The Microservices Architecture breaks the Monolithic application into a collection of smaller, independent units. Some of the salient features of Microservices are

  • Highly maintainable and testable
  • Autonomous and Loosely coupled
  • Independently deployable
  • Independently scalable
  • Organized around domain or business capabilities (context boundaries)
  • Owned by a small team
  • Owning their related domain data model and domain logic (sovereignty and decentralized data management) and could be based on different data storage technologies (SQL, NoSQL) and different programming languages

The following diagram depicts an enterprise application built using Microservices Architecture by leveraging Microsoft technology stack.


Benefits of Microservices Architecture

  • Easier Development & Deployment – Enables frequent deployment of smaller units. The microservices architecture enables the rapid, frequent, and reliable delivery of large, complex applications
  • Technology adoption/evolution – Enables an organization to evolve its technology stack
  • Process Isolation/Fault tolerance – Each service runs in its own process and communicates with other processes using standard protocols such as HTTP/HTTPS, Web Sockets, AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol)

Today the Enterprise customers across the globe like eBay, GE Healthcare, Samsung, BMW, Boeing, etc. has been adopted Microsoft Azure platform for developing their Digital solutions. We at Relevance Lab also delivered numerous Digital transformational initiatives to our global customers by leveraging Azure platform and Agile scrum delivery methodology.

The following diagram depicts an enterprise solution development life cycle leveraging Azure platform and it’s various components, which enables Agile scrum methodology for the E2E solution delivery


Conclusion
Monolithic Architecture does have its strengths like development and deployment simplicity, easier debugging and testing and fewer cross-cutting concerns and can be a good choice for certain situations, typically for smaller applications.However, for larger, business critical applications, the monolithic approach can bring up challenges like technological barriers, scalability, tight coupling (rigidity) and hence makes it difficult to make changes, and development teams find them difficult to understand.

By adopting Microservices architecture and Microsoft Azure Platform based solutions business could leverage below benefits

  • Easier, rapid development of enterprise solutions
  • Global team could be distributed to focus certain services development of the system
  • Organized around business capabilities, rapid infrastructure provisioning & application development – Technology team will be focused not just on technologies but also acquires business domain knowledge, organized around business capabilities and cloud infrastructure provisioning/ capacity planning knowledge
  • Offers modularizations for large enterprise applications, increases productivity and helps distributed team to focus on their specific modules and deliver them in speed and scale them based on the business growth

For more details, please feel free to reach out to marketing@relevancelab.com



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2020 Blog, Blog, Digital Blog, Featured
Working with a large enterprise customer supporting B2B and B2C business we leveraged Shopify to launch fully functional e-commerce stores enabling new digital channels in a very short window. Post Covid-19 pandemic disrupting existing business and customer reach, large companies had to quickly realign their digital channels and supply chains to deal with disruption and changes in the consumer behaviour. Businesses needed to have a frictionless approach to enable new digital channels, markets and products to reach out in a touchless manner while rewiring their backend fulfilment systems to deal with the supply chain disruptions. Relevance Lab worked closely with our customers during these challenging times to bring in necessary changes of empowering e-commerce, enterprise integrations, and supply chain insights helping create and maintain business continuity with a new environment.

The existing customer had invested in a full fledged but heavy e-commerce platform that was slow and costly to change. With Shopify we quickly enabled them to achieve setting up a fully functional e-commerce store in Canada with standard integrations with region specific context and positive revenue impacts.

It all boiled down to identifying an e-commerce platform which

  • Is easy and fast to set-up
  • Is secure and scalable
  • Incur least total cost of ownership
  • Provides the convenience to shop on multiple devices
  • Customizable as per requirement

We have configured the Shopify built-in theme to meet branding requirements and purchase workflows. Payment was enabled through multiple channels, including credit card, PayPal, and GPay. The store was also multilingual supporting two languages x`– English and French. We were able to go live in just four weeks and provide complete functionalities covering over 500 products delivered with a very cost optimized Shopify monthly subscription plan.

In parallel to building the storefront, the operations team simultaneously enabled

  • Adding new products to the online store
  • Configuring tax/discounts
  • Configuring customer support
  • Validating standard reports such as sales reports etc

The merchant had a complicated tax calculation GST, PST, QST across 13 regions which were simplified by the out of the box country-specific tax configuration in Shopify.

Feature Configuration and Customization Details

  • Customization of Shopify theme to make the store stand out and look great on web and mobile
  • Extended store functionalities such as translation, user review, product quick view and product pre-order using apps from Shopify Marketplace
  • Shopify’s own payment provider to accept credit card payments
  • Blog publishing through Shopify native blog features to help customers make informed decisions
  • Enabled multiple languages from Shopify admin and created separate URLs for translated content
  • Shopify Fulfilment Network offered a dedicated network of fulfilment centers that ensure timely deliveries, lower shipping costs, and a positive customer experience
  • Shipping suite provides tools to calculate real-time shipping rates, purchase and print shipping labels, and track shipments
  • Using Shopify built in tax engine to automatically handle most common sales tax calculations
  • Shopify native Notifications Module to automatically sent email or SMS to customers for confirmation of their order and shipping updates
  • With minimal effort we have configured Shopify Email to create email marketing campaigns and send them from Shopify
  • Over 500 products were imported in a matter of minutes using the product Import feature. More advanced features including associating multiple product images to product and meta data were out of the box
  • Advanced store navigation was configured using collections and tags which helped customers to easily discover products of their choice
  • Shopify’s analytics and reports provide means to review store’s recent activity, get insight into visitors, analyze online store speed, and analyze store’s transactions

Solution Architecture
Key components of Shopify platform are

  • Partner Dashboard: This provides capabilities including API credentials, track metrics for your published apps, create development stores, and access resources that help you to build your business
  • Shopify App CLI: Bootstrap a working Shopify app with Shopify command-line tool
  • Shopify App Generator for Rails: A Rails engine for building Shopify apps
  • App Bridge: JavaScript library to embed your app seamlessly in the Shopify admin
  • Shopify Admin API Library for Ruby: A handy software to simplify making Admin API calls in Ruby apps
  • Shopify Admin API Library for Python: A Python library to simplify making Admin API calls in Python apps
  • Shopify Admin API GraphiQL explorer: Interactive tool to build GraphQL queries using real Shopify API resources
  • Shopify Storefront API GraphiQL explorer: Interactive tool to build GraphQL queries for Shopify’s Storefront API
  • JavaScript Buy SDK: Add Shopify features to any website
  • Android Buy SDK: Add Shopify features to Android apps
  • iOS Buy SDK: Add Shopify features to iOS apps
  • Polaris: Create great user experiences for your apps with Shopify’s design system and component library

Leveraging the above standard Shopify components, the solution was delivered with following storefront architecture.



Relevance Lab Differentiator
Relevance Lab empowers Digital Solutions covering e-commerce, Content, CRM and E-Business. Within e-commerce platforms there are deep specializations on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Adobe Experience Manager, Shopify.

With a complementary expertise in Cloud Infrastructure, Business Analytics and ERP Integration we help our customers achieve the necessary flexibility, scalability and cost optimization to adopt Cloud platforms covering SAAS, PAAS and IAAS. Based on the context of the business challenge, we provide an end to end perspective in identifying areas of friction and leveraging technology to address the same. In this case there was a quick recovery from Covid-19 induced disruptions and a solution was delivered at a fraction of regular costs with quick ROI achieved. The collaborative approach to deeply understanding customer business problems, ability to consult on multiple solutions and bring in deep expertise to enable the outcome is part of Relevance Lab unique capabilities.


For more details on how we have help achieve frictionless digital business and leverage Cloud based platforms like Shopify for e-commerce feel free to contact marketing@relevancelab.com



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2020 Blog, Blog, Digital Blog, Featured

Does this sound like your new operating guidelines?


Rapid changes are happening in the current situation as companies adapt to the new normal and modify their internal processes, people and technology. It is essential to understand the drivers behind this change, to make a smooth transition.



For a customer to start the journey towards this “Virtual IT” driven Frictionless Enterprise the following approach should help:


Step-1: Do a quick assessment on all internal IT interactions to understand the transition from High-Touch models to Touch-Less modes. Using a web/mobile- based self-service portal with a standard catalog of Asset + Service Requests is a good starting point. The Fulfilment of such requests by Automated BOTs helps improve overal experiense.


Step-2: With the workforce becoming distributed and using all infrastructure and applications remotely requires a solid assessment of Identity & Access Management architecture. There is a fine balance between flexibility and security vulnerability. Also all remote assets need to have a mature Security, Patch Management & Vulnerability management framework. Having a real-time view on access control and security incidents with modern Security Incident management handling SOP is key.


Step-3: Removing dependense of Physical assets and adoption of Virtual assets especially in Cloud can give a quick jump-start. It is critical to have a dynamic Asset Management and CMDB to get a view on real-time hardware & software assets. Automating User Onboarding and Application Provisioning and similarly deboarding are key to respond with agility without compromizing on Governance. The adoption of software driven operations support, virtual assets and proactive SecOps will help deal with the need for speed and security at lower costs.


We are actively changing our internal operations and also helping our customers in faster adoption of the platforms to move towards the same. Our ServiceOne platform, combined with our “touchless” implementation model, helps make this transition in less than four weeks and can jump-start the change. ServiceOne removes friction by adding value to your existing ITSM tool implementation. Or if you don’t have an application, no problem; ServiceOne comes with a de-facto bundled solution for a frictionless, turnkey solution.



There are the immediate benefits to this approach and is powered by the adoption of established Cloud platforms, matured software and stable best practices.



For more information feel free to contact marketing@relevancelab.com

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