14 Jan 2021 Back to all articles ↵

Adapting systems for rapid growth

#architecture #business

Business opportunities that expand your company’s scope or scale may end up being hampered by your tech stack. Software solutions that were just fine for a small company frequently end up being simply inadequate for larger businesses. These risks are often overlooked as leadership may overestimate the flexibility of the technology they use.

Sudden website traffic surges can take any online service down. Increasing back‑office employee number complicates access policy management. Higher auditing and certification requirements introduce more platform constraints to maintain. New web services become additional points of possible failure. Market pressure tightens user experience expectations, including site performance. Too much growth‑related strain on the tech platform had been the demise of many otherwise successful companies.

In principle, tech maintenance costs grow exponentially with the system’s complexity. Thus in order for a system to scale well, it needs to stay uniform and well‑organized. This constraint stays in opposition to frequent opportunistic changes of any software platform that is developed with rapid delivery being a priority. For this reason, many companies dedicate or hire entire teams of engineers specialized in ensuring the platform as a whole has a lot of room to grow, both in numbers, structure and service variety.

Depending on many factors, there are various techniques that can help adapt your platform for future expansion:

  • Pure software optimizations can be a crucial element, especially when your tech stack uses computationally heavy components. Improving resource usage not only allows to handle more data and traffic with the same resources, but also grants better scaling opportunities, and may also reduce expenses.
  • It’s never just about applications - the environment in which they run is just as important. Reorganizing the infrastructure to an easily expandable format is absolutely crucial to limit the effort necessary to upgrade or scale it. Server fleets, data pipelines, warehouses and compute clusters are very sensitive to environment configuration when attempting to scale them to work with more traffic or data - and thus they won’t amplify your business opportunities if the infrastructure is left underdeveloped.
  • A particular area where many companies suffer is a significant underutilization of resources available in the cloud. Correct assignment of cloud services to relevant aspects of your platform, as well as well‑engineered resource allocation, can not only tremendously improve platform performance and decrease future development and maintenance costs, but also uncouple system scalability from its features and business logic - which is key for rapid growth.
  • In extreme scenarios, where the current platform just won’t work at a greater scale, a major architecture redesign may be necessary to prevent a tight bottleneck. Ideally, such undertaking would only ever be necessary once - and therefore doing it the right way requires a lot of prior research and a good understanding of all business constraints, to ensure the new setup will last far into the future and go a long way.

Applying these, and many other, principles in practice require a mix of business, infrastructure and algorithmic skills - which is exactly what we offer. Fibertide can proudly admit to having successfully assisted multiple companies in retail and business services with their software and infrastructure as they grew over multiple orders of magnitude. This experience helps us reflect business expansion plans onto the context of the software platform and identify risks in advance, reorganizing its structure where necessary to support future growth. Contact us and we’ll discuss how our team can help you prepare for growth.

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