MASA (Mesh App and Service Architecture) is a relatively new architectural model that was introduced in Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 20171. It’s a design of solutions that links mobile apps, desktop apps, web apps, and IoT apps; as well as the data (on an operational and user level); into a broad mesh of back end services to create an application. It supports multiple users in multiple roles using multiple devices and communicates over multiple networksto access application functions. For example, a traffic app borrows functionalities from the weather app, sensors, and GIS mapping to suggest the most suitable route.
Why do we need MASA to embrace digital?
A mesh of autonomous yet connected apps and services provide an omnichannel experience to customers. It’s designed to serve user requirements, as they are subject to frequent changes. It handles complexity, be it high-volume traffic or expansion of new devices, and also enables a continuous and seamless user experience. Moreover, it adapts more efficiently to business changes in comparison to three-tier or linear and monolithic approaches that are not agile, integrated and scalable. MASA can create a connected world of distributed apps, devices, people, processes, services, content etc., to build a digital business. It plays a pivotal role in building a consistent and successful digital strategy.
What we need to build MASA?
Following are the requirements to build a MASA application:
- API support to connect with the digital ecosystem
- Omni-channel support for a fluid user experience
- Cloud-adaptability that can benefit from its flexibility and high availability
- Scalablility to manage large volumes of web traffic when the need arises and scale with the growth of new devices e.g., IoT and vRealize Automation (VRA)
- Agility and adaptability to changing customer demands and business needs
- Security as per the latest standards
For an organization the requirements run a little deeper. It starts with people: software developers and architects, who must adopt a DevOps approach to bridge development and operations, and to build dynamic support for MASA solutions. Strategies must be aligned towards it from the top to bottom level to create modern architectures that build agile, flexible and dynamic cloud-based applications.
Then comes the user interface. Consistent omni-channel user experience comes with a fine balance between enhanced front-end experience and back end scalability. Finally, from a back end perspective, it must adopt an API-first approach in the designing processes that result in SD (software-defined application) services that work across all cloud and on-premise architectures, thus supporting web-scale performance.
The result, a software that is seamless in behavior across mobile, desktop and web and one that functions effectively and efficiently on the move, across a range of networks, sensors, and technologies.
Which technologies support MASA?
- API Gateways: CA API, Azure API etc.
- MSA Architectures/Containers: Dockers, Kubernetes, DC/OS, Mesos, Azure Container Service (AKS), Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS)
- Big Data & Analytics: Redshift, HDInsight, Power BI, machine learning
- Cloud: High performance clouds like AWS, Azure, GCP
- Databases: High-performance databases like Aerospike and caches like Redis
Depending on the domain or business context, MASA has been interpreted in different ways. As a broader perspective, it symbolizes a phigital world of seamless connectivity where physical and digital worlds have merged and traditional boundaries between organizations, systems and technologies broken.
1 Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017: Mesh App and Service Architecture by David W. Cearley, Gartner Published: 21 March 2017 ID: G00319580