Cloud journey- Conway’s Law states: “The structure of any system designed by an organisation is isomorphic to the structure of the organisation,” which means software or automated systems end up shaped like the organisational structure they’re designed in or designed for, according to Wikipedia.
This could be why some organisations find it difficult to fully embrace cloud adoption as certain legacy organisational structures just don’t fit into a more demanding agile oriented cloud environment.
Nico Coetzee, Enterprise Architect for Cloud Adoption and Modern IT Architecture at Ovations, elaborates: “Every company that embarks on its cloud journey can count on some deliverables not going as planned. There are many reasons for the failure of certain modernisation projects and cloud journeys, but it might come as a surprise to hear that the most common reason could be as simple as traditional structures.”
If we go back to Melvin E Conway’s research on ‘How do committees invent?’ from 1967, there are some key insights. Conway argued that an organisation without a flexible communication structure would inevitably design a system that was a reflection of its own communication structure. He further stated that the larger the organisation, the more pronounced the phenomenon. Fred Brooks, commenting on Conway’s Law, emphasised how important it was for organisations to be flexible in order to get to the best system design.
The word flexible can be substituted with agile. Coetzee says: “With this in mind, the obvious conclusion is that the more agile an organisation, the better its systems will be designed for the cloud. It may very well be this lack of agility that is at the heart of many organisations’ failure to successfully realise their cloud journeys.”
Organisations can ensure they don’t fall victim to Conway’s Law by using the science behind it to drive change that will ultimately influence system design and architecture. Once organisations are free from their old ways of working and embracing appropriate strategies that encourage agility, the focus can start to shift towards modernising their IT systems and embarking on their journey to the cloud.