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vFunction: A Powerful Platform to Transform Monolithic Apps into Microservices

If you haven’t heard of vFunction until now, no one should blame you. We heard about them only around September last year, and they just went out of stealth last month.

We’re quite excited about this announcement, because not only we’ll be able to tell more about what vFunction does, but also how we at TECHunplugged helped them prepare a case study for one of their major customers.

What is vFunction

vFunction is the name of both an Israeli startup and of its product, the vFunction platform. This solution is focused on automating the refactoring of monolithic applications into microservices.

Many business-critical monolithic applications have a stratified code due to development that spans over many years and multiple developers. The result is highly complex, bloated applications which are hard to maintain, require extensive regression testing, long development cycles and a lot of labor. In many cases, those applications rely on expensive licensed software which constitutes yet another lock-in factor.

As the technical debt increases, the refactoring of those applications becomes eventually inevitable. But manual refactoring initiatives are often complex and require a lot of manual work to analyze the source code and functions, making such projects go on for months. The elevated cost of manual refactoring in terms of time and labor often limits those initiatives to the most critical applications – if organizations still persevere despite the hurdles.

The vFunction “application monolith” processing factory

vFunction helps organizations tackle those challenges by providing dynamic and static code analysis on monolithic Java applications, augmented by proprietary data science technology. Architects and developers can view application functions and determine the most appropriate way to split these in microservices, but also identify unused services and eliminate dead code that is no longer needed.

Ultimately, those functions can be extracted into microservices which can then be ported where needed, benefiting from all of the added value of microservice based architectures.

The vFunction interface provides a rich view and all the necessary tools to help developers & application architects identify services and resource dependencies

Intesa Sanpaolo – A Real-World Case Study

If you wonder how that works in details, the good news is that TECHunplugged has written a case study for vFunction which explains this in detail based on a practical use case.

We were put in touch with vFunction by Stefano Pirovano, an Italian industry friend who’s at the forefront when it comes to working with stealth start-ups. vFunction had a very particular need: they needed help in writing a case study, but it would have to be done in Italian, as it was originally meant to be used internally at one of their major customers, the Intesa Sanpaolo bank.

We embarked into this journey with vFunction, and interviewed several key stakeholders within Intesa Sanpaolo, focused and demanding technology practitioners with an acute understanding of the company challenges and objectives. Their long and fruitful collaboration delivered impressive outcomes and still continues to date to transform the organization in its journey to the cloud native world.

An overview of our case study of vFunction transformative effect at Intesa Sanpaolo

One of the major outcomes of the vFunction / Intesa Sanpaolo collaboration is a 3x increase in deployment frequency as well as lower costs. But there is definitely more to it, and although this case study was originally meant for the bank’s internal audience (in Italian), vFunction provide an English version on their website that we warmly recommend you to read.

Working with vFunction and Intesa Sanpaolo was a very enriching experience for us. It helped us not only understand the perspective of vFunction as the innovator company and how it seeks to address a problem and radically transform the way this problem is addressed, but also better comprehend the challenges posed by monolithic applications and manual refactoring initiatives.

From the Intesa Sanpaolo perspective, our interviews with the technology practitioners, architects and project managers helped us understand the rationale behind their cloud native journey, and the tangible outcomes that were delivered by the adoption of vFunction to further foster innovation and transformation initiatives.

TECHunplugged’s Opinion

While there may be a handful applications that will live on forever as monoliths (just as some mainframe-based systems are still around), there is way too much value to be unlocked in adopting microservices and cloud native approaches / mindsets to ignore this ever growing trend. That said, an essential aspect when engaging in refactoring initiatives is to carefully weigh the cost of refactoring vs. expected outcomes.

Where vFunction ultimately delivers outstanding value is that not only it works well with massive business-critical monoliths, but it also dramatically lowers the “entry bar” for applications that would never be considered in a manual refactoring initiative due to an elevated cost-to-benefit ratio. vFunction makes that possible by automating refactoring activities at scale, cutting down analysis effort, time and labor cost, and thus enabling a much broader transformational effect on enterprises application landscapes.