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Understanding Microservices Architecture: Everything You Need to Know

The wave of excitement about microservices continues to be unrelenting. And if you have an ardent passion for application architecture, it's unlikely that you have missed the latest happenings of Microservices. The promises of microservices are boundless; for instance, it can deliver flexibility and scalability to any organization's development and deployment of service-based applications.

But how?

In a nutshell, by adapting to an architecture that enables each service to be created and deployed solely and dynamically, an architecture that embraces DevOps practices.

For instance, you may need to release a quick update related to customer profile service. With microservices, developers can focus on that single functionality, and when it is ready, you can test and deploy - simple as that. This requires no bundling with the rest of the application or waiting for a release window.

All of it sounds great.

These are the brilliant facets of microservice architecture that much of the discussion has centered around for the past few years. But that's not the whole story of it. So let's learn more about Microservices' concept and how to deliver it successfully to achieve business goals.

What are Microservices?

In a nutshell, microservices are small and autonomous services that connect when connected. Let's break this concept and consider the factors that make microservices special.

Small and Focused

Our codebases grow as we write new codes to add new features. Over time, it can get tricky to know where a change is needed because of the large codebase. The code functions start to spread all over, and implementations get difficult. Abstractions or modules are often created to ensure the code is more cohesive.

Microservices works in the same way for independent services by focusing service boundaries on business boundaries and avoiding the temptation to grow too large.

Autonomous

Microservice is a separate entity. It can be deployed as an isolated service or having its operating system process. Additionally, this isolation can add more costs, and the resulting simplicity makes the whole system much more manageable.

Here are some more features of microservices:

  • Incredibly sustainable and testable

  • Focused on delivering business value

  • Sparsely coupled

What Is Microservice Architecture?

Microservices architecture (often called as microservices) is a certain architectural style for developing applications. Microservices allow you to divide a massive application into smaller independent services, each with its own responsibility.

Are Monolithic and Microservices Architectures Different?

A monolithic architecture is designed as one large system with one specific codebase like a stone pillar. This makes it very difficult to alter the technology or framework as all the components are closely dependent. Being a single unit that combines all components, monolithic architecture usually -

  • Has a single codebase for all capabilities

  • Utilizes centralized data

  • Is firmly coupled

However, there are some potential drawbacks that are hard to ignore. For instance, if you need to change in one section for upgrading or scaling purpose, that will need redeploying the whole system. This clearly shows how monolith can be quite fragile as the entire system can come down if there's one part not acting right. Additionally, monoliths are tricky to retain as they expand, and merging with third-party tools is no cakewalk either.

Meanwhile, a microservices architecture provides more flexibility to the developers by enabling the kind of programming language or framework required. In addition, smaller teams can launch any service faster using a microservices architecture. A recent IBM survey says that 56% of the organizations are planning to embrace microservices in the next 24 months.

Microservices Use Cases

Presently, 63% of businesses have embraced microservices architecture as a part of their organizational capabilities. It has been widely adopted due to its modular approach for software and application development that improves the delivery of large applications.

Here's a quick overview of real-world use cases of microservices -

Organizations must transition from legacy to modern platforms to be future-ready with the changing technologies. It is also important to refactor it with microservices that enable deploying full-stack development technologies.

Here is an interesting case study ASTM International, a leading standards organization, modernize their complicated application developed on monolithic architecture into microservices. Earlier, they were using a legacy system that was inconvenient and lacked the latest features for driving business growth. Looking at the dire need for modernization, the company moved to a microservices architecture while dealing with the complexity around API architecture. Fast-forward, this has led to having a SaaS platform for a 30,000+ member community.

Key Benefits of Microservices

Lately, microservices has become a much-preferred choice for continuously deployed systems. Companies like Amazon, Netflix, PayPal, and Twitter have successfully incorporated microservice architecture to drive better business outcomes. Seeing this, many businesses are considering moving from obsolete monolith architectures to flexible microservice architectures. 

Wait, what makes them that special?

The key advantages of microservices are many and diverse. Here are some of the most common ones –

Technology Complexity

One of the biggest obstacles in experimenting with new technology is its risks. Any change will influence a large chunk of the system with any monolithic application. However, we can embrace technology more quickly and know how new advancements may help us with microservices.

Resilience

Applications are made of a host of services communicating together. With Microservices, when one element fails, that doesn't have a domino effect on the entire system. You can simply isolate the issue, and the rest of the system will carry on functioning like it was before.

Scaling

In an extensive monolithic system, everything needs to be scaled together, wherein microservices reduce the effort required to recognize the bottlenecks in an application.

Fewer Resources

Microservices tend to utilize few resources during runtime. This is because the cluster manager manually assigns memory and CPU capability among services which is done within every cluster depended on performance and serviceability.

Ease of Deployment

Did you know that if you make a change of one-line in the monolithic application, it will require the entire application to be deployed to release the shift? But, with microservices, this can be avoided as any changes made to one service can be deployed independently of the rest of the system.

Drawbacks Of Microservices Architectures

Harnessing the benefits of a microservices architecture needs tackling a few of the innate challenges -

Automated Deployment - Although microservices deliver a lot of value to apps that function at a web scale, they can be more sophisticated to deploy and handle. This must be automated as it is not manual work. In addition, the tremendous volume of services in enterprise-level microservice-focused applications demands it.

As a result, enterprises planning to go for microservices architectures must know automation technologies such as Jenkins, Terraform, and GitHub. This means having a team with the experience to produce scripts that drive automation. Executing automation solidly and reliably requires a significant amount of effort, time, and resources. However, its intrinsic value of it is unmatchable for the companies.

Complexity - Microservices can have many types of complexity than most monolithic applications. Because it involves several moving parts than any traditional application, it needs lots of effort, meticulous planning, and strategic automations to make sure every element can run smoothly. Despite being isolated and self-contained, microservices require continuous configuration as they are assembled from development to test and onto staging and production.

There are also various reasons, such as communication between different services can get complicated. Any app has hundreds of other services, and they need to communicate efficiently. Additionally, debugging becomes more troublesome with microservices architecture. Finally, tracing the source of the issue can become even more challenging as applications consist of several microservices, and each has its own set of logs.

Security - When compared to monolithic applications, microservices have some troubling security issues due to the steady increase in the volume of data swapped. This means working with several small containers is like exposing more of the system to the network, which implies that your system is being exposed to potential threats. Additionally, if a microservice is falling, it's not operable, and it can unknowingly contribute to security threats.

Apart from these, traditional user logging can get ineffective. As microservices are distributed and independent, more logs can threaten to disguise issues as they pop up. Moreover, for its security to be adequate, logging needs to reflect events across different platforms. There could be a major security mishap without the proper tools and training.

When (Not) To Use Microservices

Are microservices always the best solution when it comes to software and app development? Certainly not. There is no as such thing in this world which is 100% correct. Microservices are architecture is no exception.

Finally, the important question: when microservices architecture is worth all the trouble?

Let's take a quick look at our key tips on when NOT to go for microservices -

  • Microservices are definitely not a GREAT choice for a solution which isn't complicated. By this we mean a solution which can be handled by a small team. Because, as mentioned earlier, microservices are built to tackle the complexity.

  • Don't opt for microservices if your app is too small to validate it. For instance, if your check out system needs to be migrated to microservices, then you need to check first if they're already doing pretty well at first place. As in, the idea of utilizing microservices is to break a big and complex application into smaller services to increase manageability.

  • For startups, microservices are a big no-no. Instead, it'll be better to start with a monolithic app and break it into smaller elements as it is a better way to test out MVPs to know what will be valuable to your customers.

Accelerate Your Microservices Architecture Adoption Now

Microservices show great promise for fostering business agility by giving you more options and more decisions to make. However, learning to embrace this evolutionary architecture is a must if you want to reap the actual value for your organization.

To learn more about Microservices Architecture, feel free to connect with us. Schedule a call to ensure that your org is on the right track for 2022 and beyond!

Questions?