This is a technical read, but it is worth it if you believe (as we do) that our Partner API is a central part to HawkSoft's future. The drawing above will make more sense by the end.
HawkSoft was founded by a craftsman. Paul Hawkins has been an avid woodworker his entire life. The mentality and methodology of his craft are engrained in how HawkSoft builds software. Work with a plan in place. Measure twice, cut once. Sand, buff, prime, paint, and seal. It is a conscious, mindful approach that has allowed HawkSoft to consistently release features and products that are meaningful to independent insurance professionals since 1995. This approach, nonetheless, is not fast or flashy. If the legs aren't level or the joints too weak, HawkSoft will not let a feature out of the workshop.
A recent example of this played out during the launch of HawkSoft Version 4.5. Agencies that were helping us beta test the version update reported a problem with how we masked personal identifiable information (PII) and how the coming change could hinder their workflows. We reviewed the feedback, reassessed the upcoming feature, and found an opportunity to make it better before public release. As a result, Version 4.5 now has a toggle for masking PII. It’s your agency’s choice whether you want to mask this data. It added a delay to the public launch of the version, but when the feature finally did release, it better fit our customers' needs and was a more useful feature. “Better for our customers” is the goal, after all.
That is the situation with HawkSoft's Partner API. The process of massaging 24 years of software designed for desktop use into a modern cloud-based architecture is herculean. HawkSoft made tremendous progress in 2018, but we recently discovered a weak point.
Original vs. New and Improved
The original cloud architecture plan for our Partner API looked something like this. (This is an overly simplified version so as to not give away our trade secrets or expose our system to outside security threats.)
The single pipeline from API to 3rd-Party Integrations works well. As long as the traffic isn't too heavy, data can flow quickly from HawkSoft CMS to the Cloud to a 3rd-party app. However, new vendors reach out to HawkSoft on a weekly basis asking to integrate. Our own development team has begun making browser-based features that would also flow through the Partner API. This means a lot of traffic is vying for attention and traveling on that single pathway.
Testing this proved to overburden our infrastructure (slow performance, missing data). We could deploy better hardware, but the cost of doing so becomes unsustainable over time. This approach did not live up to our standards and would not create a good customer experience. Therefore, we're taking the HawkSoft Partner API back into the workshop for some tweaks.
HawkSoft will recycle the existing code into a new model. Instead of putting all the traffic through a single path, we will distribute the services over several unique, independent systems.
Initial testing has demonstrated this is already a much more sound architecture. Each product, feature, or 3rd-party integration has its own resource pipeline that scales with traffic without negatively impacting other services. We’d like to be clear: This is not a restart of our API project. It will, however, push back release of HawkSoft's Cloud-powered, browser-based features and the release of the Partner API.
It is important we handle the Partner API correctly from the outset. We thank you for your patience with us. It will be duly rewarded with the coming release of a Cloud-ready HawkSoft platform.
If you have any questions you would like us to answer, leave us a comment below. We consider ourselves a partner in your agency's success, and we will do all that we can to ensure you have confidence in our approach to sound, sustainable software design.