If you’re in the technology field and you live on planet earth, you’ve probably heard the term “microservices” thrown around. It’s almost become a buzzword. The purpose of this article will be to give you a familiarity with microservices and what it (not “they”) does.
Microservices is not just a buzzword. Its usage is becoming more and more prevalent in cloud computing environment. It is becoming the de facto method of application building in the cloud. And despite the name, microservices are not teensy-weensy snippets of code. In fact, applications using microservices architecture are often more code-heavy than monolithic applications. Nevertheless, the advantages of building apps with microservices far outweigh the pitfalls when there is a need for flexibility, scalability and greater speed.
Microservices is an architecture. It’s a structure upon which computer applications are built, not an application (or applications) in itself. The name derives from the fact that each module in the app performs a service, or function (more on this in item 3 & 4 below.) If this sounds ambiguous, it’s because, frankly, it is.
Microservices is an alternative to the traditional monolithic application architecture. In a monolithic architectural environment, changing one aspect in an application requires alteration of the entire application. Microservices remedies that since each module or service exists separately from the others.
Microservices architecture modularizes the various functions of an application, meaning developers can modify one function without disrupting the other functions. The services communicate with each other through lightweight messaging protocols. (Without communication protocols, microservices architecture could not exist in its current form.)
For example, if an eCommerce application performs push notifications to visitors on a weekly basis, and the eCommerce store wants to increase that frequency, it can be done within the individual module instead of having to re-engineer the entire application.
In another example, when someone visits a typical eCommerce store to shop, the browse or search function would be one service, and the purchase function would be another. In a traditional monolithic application architecture, if the merchant wanted to enhance the search function, it could disrupt the purchase function. If the eCommerce site was built using microservices architecture, the two functions would have zero interdependence.
Consider every other functional part of the typical eCommerce application: inventory tracking, accounting, reporting, etc. In a microservices environment, these are all separate from each other, making modification, scalability and flexibility possible without the need to revamp the entire application.
In a final example, imagine if a business intelligence application software company wanted to do more business with European corporations. To do this would require adding the ability to do some calculations using the metric system. In a monolithic application, this would require a re-engineering of the entire application; in a microservices environment, all development would take place within the calculation module. And, when completed, the extended module could easily be added when required.
Microservices are more secure. This can be a risky statement to make considering the advances continually made by the malevolent hacker community. However, since microservice modules are containerized, they are isolated from the rest of the application. If a well-architected microservices module is hacked, it does not necessarily provide the hacker with access to an entire application, but only to that module.
Speaking of containerization and isolation, since microservices modules are housed within containers, they are faster and easier to deploy than traditional applications. And containerized applications are also easier to manage. However, containers require management, which means, in simple terms, there are a lot more things to manage.
Getting started with containerization may seem like a daunting task if you’ve never worked with the technology before. Learn more about our Containerization Services.
Are You Convinced Yet?
By now, you certainly must be convinced that microservices architecture is the only way to go, right? You’re probably ready to re-architect your entire suite of software applications.
Not So Fast!
The last three of our nine points denote why microservices architecture might not be the best development option in every case, or for every enterprise.
Microservices take longer to develop. If spinning up an application in the fastest time possible is your goal, microservices is not your best option. This is because each module must be developed separately, and must be able to work independently of and in conjunction with the others. It can be a complicated process, and if not done correctly, can backfire.
Microservices development requires a bigger technology stack. There are tools needed that are unnecessary in a monolithic architecture. API building and testing tools are essential. Additionally, the containers must be managed, or orchestrated. Therefore, a container management tool such as Kubernetes must be added to your stack. While adding more tools may make your system more robust, it also makes your overall systems governance more complex. Does your IT Department have the bandwidth to handle this?
Your network must be reliable. Microservices modules communicate with each other over your network. If your network goes down or is not secure, you are facing potential disaster. For that reason, a system built on microservices architecture requires investment in technology and people who can give your network all the attention and tender loving care it will require to function correctly and dependably. Not all businesses are willing or capable of making that investment.
Conclusion—Technology is Always Evolving
Just as microservices architecture would not be possible without the latest advances in software development, so too would it be unwise to believe that the last chapter on this technology has been written. As processing power continues to increase and human ingenuity continues to flourish, there will be more changes to come.
If you’re a business owner or an IT specialist, the best course of action from now on is to rely on a trusted partner to keep your business in step with the latest ways to make your enterprise more successful. A partner like Datavail.
Contact us today to learn more about microservices or to address any technology concern you may have.
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