In IT, the days of monolithic computer applications are numbered. The new approach is to develop microservices, smaller applications that can be linked together to build a larger entity, these smaller apps being swapped in and out as required. Those of you who already met or worked with service-oriented architectures (SOA) will see similarities between this earlier model and today’s version. Web SOAP (simple object access protocol) services are yet another version. They are all based on the notion of calling up loosely coupled entities to accomplish different results, and – possibly – go elsewhere for those results, if the first entity is out of action. With a little broader thinking, these microservices could open the door to other advances in business continuity too.

IT microservices fit into private IT installations and public cloud configurations. They follow the mobile app model of being specialised in one thing, and doing that thing well. Third party developers can build microservices that are of use to different enterprises. The microservices that are being built for the industrial Internet of Things are an example, with specialist software developers producing microservice applications to help monitor and manage industrial machines. Best practices for microservice development include embedding security into the microservice code. Hardened microservices like this can then be built or licenced, and used to keep industrial operations running.

Microservices are part of the agile culture that has affected much of IT, in which incremental results are produced quickly, rather than waiting much longer for a “big bang”. Like food that is ready in 60 seconds in a microwave oven, microservices can be brought into service rapidly. From standpoint of business continuity, microservices offer much better possibilities to react to changing environments, including opportunities and threats. Yet the concept may be applicable beyond IT. Some HR departments are already considering how best to modularise work in general to keep a workforce flexible and effective. The microservices approach might help them to improve business continuity across the enterprise through people, as well as machines.