Citizens all over the world now expect the government to provide better responsiveness, accessibility, and transparency in their services. In fact, the government is now expected to provide the same quality of services as the private sector.
This was proven in a survey where over 85 percent of the US citizens said that they expect the government digital services to have the same or even higher quality than the commercial brands. Not just the citizens, even the government employees, and military personnel now expect a better quality of digital services equivalent to that of the private sector.
All these demands have put pressure on government agencies to digitize their processes without any increased budget or service outage. With already inflexible budgets and buzzing IT trends like mobile, internet of things, big data, and the cloud, there is excessive pressure on the government IT teams to do more with less. While handling all that, maintaining security also becomes utmost important. Microservices can be the answer to all of these problems.
Leaning into microservices
Most of the digital government services are built with a custom approach with large code bases that can become difficult to maintain. In fact, these custom codes are so complex that it’s utterly time-consuming to reuse them or modify them to fit the changing requirements. Even the smallest enhancement to the code would mean going through the entire development, testing and deployment phases all over again. On the other hand, microservices architecture can help rectify the problem.
By implementing microservices, you get small components of code that can run independently on their own. Each of these components is meant to carry a particular function like running a user profile or verifying the addresses. With the help of APIs, the microservice components communicate with each other and work together to create a singular application that can help achieve all the business goals.
While the custom codes being previously used were stiff, and it was a long process even to make the smallest of changes, microservice architecture has components or blocks that are interlocked with each other. You can move these blocks around to create countless different and complicated configurations. It is also possible, to add more blocks or remove some without halting functionality or going through a long process. It is this flexibility which makes microservices architecture a great option for digital governance.
The benefits of using microservices for digital government
Faster project delivery
Most of the services, data, and applications in government agencies have been kept within legacy systems. Not only are these legacy systems outdated, but making changes to applications which are running on these legacy systems takes a lot of time — months or even years. The increase in time leads to a lack of agility and overall increased costs. That is why many government agencies have been looking at ways to modernize legacy systems, and microservices is one of the most promising options.
Monolithic core legacy systems are broken down into smaller and independent services with a microservices infrastructure. The broken down services can be developed, maintained, and deployed separately without any interruption to other services. After some time, when there is a need to change processes or add new ones, all your IT team has to do is, create new components and then connect them with the existing components.
Since each component in microservices architecture is functional on its own, they are also easily reusable. There are many repetitive tasks that need to be performed across government agencies. So instead of coding the same thing again and again, you can reuse the components leading to better functioning, lesser development time, and of course higher gains.
More secure data
One of the biggest hurdles that government agencies face today is the need to provide access to systems or allow shared collaboration, while still securing underlying sensitive data. That is why, most of the agencies take security very seriously, which in turn, creates issues when different agencies want to access each other’s files or data.
Not to mention, with legacy systems, each application that is built, requires separate security protocols to be set to enable access to assets and data. This can again lead to a delay in development, and often confusion about access.
On the other hand, with a microservices architecture, every component is exposed through an API which acts like a defined and secure entry point. With API policies, it becomes easier for microservices to handle sharing of data within the government agency and outside.
Less prone to failure
If there was a failure with legacy systems, it could potentially lead to a shutdown of the entire service. Since the whole architecture is monolithic, if the core failed, so will everything else. Even if the service didn’t shut down, fixing the issues required testing and debugging, which eventually means shutting the application down for some time.
On the other hand, microservice architecture has different components, each of which is designed to function on their own if a component they are dependent on fails abruptly. This leads to the seamless functioning of the application, even if there is a failure. The IT team can fix the failure in the background, while the application is still running perfectly.
Microservices infrastructure can allow government agencies to seamlessly modify or build their systems without disrupting in any way. Its many benefits including flexibility and better security are the reasons why it is becoming the new building block of the digital government platform.