Modern businesses need to store and analyze vast amounts of data to compete in their respective marketplaces.
As new tech services promise faster and more efficient ways of extracting critical insights about business, many legacy businesses struggle to merge old technologies with new ones.
This merging process almost always leads to the term “spaghetti architecture.”
In today’s post, we will discuss spaghetti architecture in more depth and give you a few ways to avoid or minimize its effects on your business.
In A Hurry?
- Spaghetti architecture happens on the application and data layers.
- Spaghetti architecture can lead to duplicate processes, high costs, and lower company culture.
- Choosing the right technologies the first time can decrease the chances of spaghetti architecture.
- Spaghetti architecture must be solved if a business wants to scale.
What is “Spaghetti Architecture”?
The term “spaghetti architecture” can be defined as an Information Technology (IT) problem that hinders a business’s ability to rapidly decode and transform their applications and data to meet ever-changing requirements.
Spaghetti architecture is a metaphor derived from the appearance of a plate of spaghetti.
The spaghetti noodles represent each business tool that is tangled into infinite strands of complexity.
These are the most common areas of an organization’s technical infrastructure that fall into the spaghetti conundrum:
Businesses add more and more applications to their infrastructure for tracking sales, customers, and other relevant data.
Each application has its way of communicating with each other, some using APIs while others remain siloed with little ability to integrate into the greater whole.
Some applications are in use by specific departments without the foresight of how they will integrate with other applications as the business grows.
Sometimes applications come from mergers or acquisitions and cannot be easily integrated or discontinued without massive impact in the business.
The net result is a complicated, inefficient, and sometimes expensive management of these applications.
The complexities cause undue stress on IT personnel who must ensure the applications are secure and maintain business objectives.
Below the application layer of your IT infrastructure lies the data layer.
The data collected by these applications need a silo or warehouse that will house and analyze the data.
When applications are not natively or seamlessly integrated, the data often cannot be merged to extract meaningful insights.
The ensuing disconnection leads to poor data management, wasted customer growth opportunities, and gaps in security.
Regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) force businesses to adapt more limits on the amount of data stored.
Data sprawl is similar to data spaghetti but adds the additional headache of leaving silos of data separated from the central data warehouse.
In these cases, the data silos grow in size yet do not provide any value to the business because their data points cannot be centralized.
Data sprawl also represents a cultural problem that can negatively affect a company’s revenue.
When departments are all using different applications, data sharing leads to biases between managers or department heads.
This causes internal conflict and distrust within the organization.
Problems Caused by Spaghetti Architecture
The problems caused by spaghetti architecture can dramatically affect the bottom line revenue of any business.
When a business delays or hesitates when solving the underlying issues, the problems build up over time and often cost more to fix later down the road.
Here is a brief list of common problems stemming from spaghetti architecture:
Customers don’t care about how a business operates internally; their main concern is getting the right product or service that solves their problems.
When a business struggles to match the right product at the right time to the right customer, they fail themselves and the customer.
If a business struggles with spaghetti architecture, they will fail to meet the needs of new or existing customers.
They will fail to understand their customers and therefore be at a disadvantage in their marketplace.
Multiple systems create chaos when used inefficiently.
With so many data points and data silos, various departments will struggle to harmonize and be in sync.
Duplicate systems and processes become unscalable, and the result is inaccurate data and exposure to risk.
A “one size fits all” data approach is a mythical creature like a unicorn.
By acknowledging this, you put yourself in a position to make informed decisions based on data and industry best practices.
Data fragmentation caused by spaghetti architecture can kill efficiency in other areas of your business.
For example, when your support team cannot access the right customer data, it may fail to solve the customers’ problems and may lose that customer.
When tasks are duplicated, it leads to poor employee morale, which leads to strained company culture.
A sophisticated IT architecture means increased maintenance costs, whether it is cloud-based or on-premise.
As your IT department grows, and new data integration challenges are faced, your data’s consistency is at stake.
When you add complex data synchronization, data mapping, and real-time interfaces, these small problems become big problems.
Maintaining a broken system will lead to impaired judgment, and the “sunken cost fallacy” that will cloud your ability to remain agile.
How To Avoid Spaghetti Architecture
The symptoms of spaghetti architecture can be cured or altogether avoided if proper planning is involved.
While not all symptoms have cut and dry solutions, taking these 6 points into account will dramatically decrease your chances of developing a chaotic environment in your IT department and save you millions of dollars down the road.
Sometimes you must go “back to the drawing board” and restructure your approach to business.
Modern businesses must continuously innovate both organizationally and technologically.
The business that remains most adaptive to change will beat their more docile and stagnant competitors.
Analyze data before applications
Start the evaluation of your IT processes at the data layer.
Try to find areas that are duplicated, inefficient, and unnecessary.
It would help if you also audited your data processes for security risks and obsolete technologies so that your business stays up-to-date and in compliance.
The challenge of running a complex business is to make each process as simple as possible.
It is easy to create complexity in your business, which almost always leads to spaghetti symptoms.
By putting a premium on simplicity, you build value back into your business and make it easier to move and pivot down the road.
Choose the right technologies.
Choosing the right applications and processes the first time helps you to avoid the need for restructuring down the road.
A great way to know if the technology you are choosing is to evaluate 2-3 vendors and do a small “Proof of Concept.”
A Proof of Concept is when a small project is completed at a minimal cost.
A POC allows you to see what the technology can do for your business at scale and will hedge your investment in that solution.
The time and cost you invest in the evaluation process should be a drop in the bucket to the massive savings and profit you will realize when choosing the right technology.
Measure and adjust
A common saying in engineering goes “what gets measured gets improved” and is a great philosophy to avoid the problems associated with spaghetti architecture.
As the adage goes, “measure twice, cut once.”
Taking time to measure your internal IT processes and adjusting them based on these parameters will have a profound effect on your bottom line revenue.
As with most business processes, being patient and allowing things to develop over time cannot be understated.
While it is essential to have a sense of urgency in your business, allowing things to develop organically over time is the best way to avoid spaghetti architecture.
When combined with the points above, patience will allow you to make well-informed decisions in your business.
Spaghetti Architecture Conclusion
Today we have outlined many reasons why you want to avoid spaghetti architecture.
While the symptoms of spaghetti architecture can remain contained, the long-term effects can prevent your business from scaling.
At Data Sleek, we can help you diagnose your spaghetti architecture symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis with the most current data architecture solutions.
Data Sleek is comprised of expert data engineers and business analysts who can recommend various applications and database solutions that “untangle” your IT processes.
We specialize in data warehousing, data engineering, data science, and data visualization.
When your business is free to scale, the revenue potential is realized.
If you are dealing with any of these spaghetti architecture symptoms, we would love to talk to you.
Please go to our “Contact Us” page and leave your contact information.
We have helped businesses overcome the challenges of spaghetti architecture for the last five years. We look forward to learning more about your business challenges.