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Alternatives in ITIt seems like we're looking constantly for alternatives. We're moving from natural gas to heating and cooking on electricity. In the area of cars and trucks, we are looking to replace diesel and petrol for, again, electricity stored in batteries. Or even hydrogen as yet another alternative. Also in IT we’re constantly looking for alternatives. But it’s not only in the energy area and IT that we're looking for alternatives.

Artificial meat

We are also looking for alternatives in livestock. We're trying to grow artificial meat as an alternative to regular meat. Why? Simply because the amount of resources that one kilogram of meat requires and produces. That includes food, water and of course, the methane gases that animals produce is simply too much. We need an alternative to that. Because we don't want to give up our meat. MYOMY, a very fashionable brand of bags with the iconic brown paper bag, has recently tried to develop a bag made of mushroom leather (MuSkin). Yes, you hear it correctly, it's mushroom leather. It is made from the byproduct of growing edible mushrooms. And the byproduct is turned into leather that we can use in every day. One of my colleagues tried out one of these bags. And although it was a little bit rough around the edges (quite literally: it wasn't polished leather, as we know it from belts and bags), it did however seem to do the trick. And that's not the only substitute for leather that we have. We also have seen leather bags made out of apple leather. The pulp that we get from crushing apples to make apple juice, that pulp is then turned into leather that can be turned into bags for example. There are a lot of things going on with looking for alternatives. And in most cases, it is because the sustainability of our current practices is not what they should be.

Datacenters

It could be that in the foreseeable future, we will find that all of our data centers are consuming so much energy that we need to do something. And we already see some alternatives coming up. Like for instance data center that will run locally. And that for instance, will also heat your house. IT can look very much like the car industry, most cars have a stop-and-go option to save fuel, the same thing we will see with cloud providers. That’s is of course Amazon, Google and Microsoft which will find the alternative to the car’s stop and go, a mechanism that will shuts off or sleeps when they are not doing anything. And perhaps even migrate some of the services to a less performant platform. But at the same time, as soon as the traffic starts at lightning speed, a migration to a performance environment is performed. Is that going to happen? I don't know. But it could very likely be happening if the demand rises. Because we see the demand for electricity outstripping demand in the near future. And very much like the meat industry or the car industry, if we cannot sustainably keep up with demand, then we need to do something. And even though I believe that many of the cloud resources are used in a sensible way, I think there's still a lot of slack in there. As in that we can free up and reduce our footprint as far as cloud services go. 

Cloud Services

When you've been in IT as long as I have, you have seen many trends. Trends like rapid application development, uppercase tools, lowercase to extreme programming, Scrum, agile. The move to microservices, the move to the cloud, the move to APIs and the move to soap services. It is to extent a linear progression with a dash of circularity in it. And as with the latter, I mean that we are very good at taking concepts that did not work in the past, that can now be possible in introducing them as a completely new set of services in our IT infrastructure. It's not that long ago that we saw that, for instance, online storage providers became cloud providers, Cloud Storage providers overnight. And the only thing they did was changed the marketing material. Basically, putting a sticker over online with the word cloud on it. There will be a new paradigm in the area of cloud services, where we have first and second tier services, where the first-tier services are basically always on and the second-tier services have a little latency in it. You can imagine that for instance, during the day, HR services are first to your service. And they basically move to second tier services when people are not in the office and we don't use the systems as much as we would like to. When during the day HR services are tier one services that we want to have available when someone logs in to the HR portal to make some changes, during the night or the evening, they might be second tier services, meaning that they're not in the forefront, and that they have a little latency. For instance, spin up of a of a service that was dormant because not many people are using it. It could be that a subset of services is deployed as a microservice or as microservices.

Spinning up a service

Does it mean the end of the ESB (Enterprise Service Bus), the end of middleware and the beginning of a new era? No. But it's another step. And I'm not sure that it will pan out exactly as I think it will but there's going to be a next step in the way we configure our IT systems. Over the last couple of years, we've gone through a number of iterations, where we were changing because of clients, or customer demand. It now might be time that we are going to change for environmental demand demands. Come to think of it. There are already standards that will help you determine whether your software was developed in the eco-friendliest way. New services will look through the source code and see if there are any improvement improvements that you can make with regards to the software to make them run faster, smarter, or better.

The winner is

The winner, of course, is the environment. And on the other hand, when you come to think of it, the winner is also the organization who does that, because it will save you money as well. Of course, there will be the upfront investment in the analysis and scan of your software. But when you have a good set of software that can easily save you a lot of money. Just look at all of the examples where the algorithms to decrypt or encrypt or do some calculations were reduced from a couple of hours to a couple of minutes. That made some serious changes to the bottom line of the organization. With this in mind, Yenlo developed Connext. A managed middleware WSO2 Cloud platform that you can see as a first step to a more eco sensitive (and money sensitive as well) approach because of the shared environment and optimized infrastructure. Read for example how Hanseatic Bank Germany makes use of the Connext solution to comply with the Open Banking API standards. If my vision becomes reality, I don't know, will we soon be in a situation where we have to look for alternatives to our data center use? In that case, we could actually benefit from all sorts of alternatives that would reduce energy consumption by not making everything always available. But creating a smart environment where we have a number of microservices that are agile and agile instead of the monolithic approach.

Do you want to read more about microservices? Download the microservices white paper where the microservice architecture style will be further explained.

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Picture of Ruben van der Zwan
Published September 3, 2019

Ruben van der Zwan

Ruben is CEO and founder of Yenlo. He is an IT visionary from the first hour, and always working on creating better ICT solutions. Ruben believes that with technology, we can bring the people in this world together and bring prosperity to everyone. Ruben is an evangelist of open source technology, integration platforms, and WSO2 in particular. He is a frequent speaker on international conferences.

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