As organizations become more Agile and lean towards a DevOps environment, microservices or microservice architecture is fast becoming the buzzword. But many organizations are still unsure of what it means and if it is the right fit for them.

Microservices is a software development technique that structures an application as a collection of coupled or component services. It is a variant of the SOA architectural style.

In recent years, enterprises like Netflix and Amazon have migrated from monolithic to microservices architecture. While monolithic applications are successful, there can be constraints. Any change made to any part of the application will require that the entire monolith be rebuilt and deployed. Maintaining a strong modular structure is another issue. Microservices architecture evolved to try to solve these problems, as each service is independently scalable and deployable and can be written in different programming languages.

Characteristics of Microservices Architecture

Martin Fowler writes that while there may not be a strict formal definition of the microservices architectural style, there are common characteristics for architectures that would that fit in the bucket term. He identifies the following characteristics:

Multiple Components

Microservice architectures break down the software into component services. This allows for each service to be independently deployed, tested, modified and redeployed without compromising the integrity of an application. But it is important to keep in mind that this is not completely hands-off. Some modifications can result in changed interfaces that will require coordination, but in general, microservice architecture aims to minimize the need for these.

Organized around Business Capabilities

Microservice architecture is organized around business capabilities and priorities. It uses cross-functional teams, unlike the traditional monolithic approach where each team has a different focus for example, on databases, UI, etc.  In the monolithic approach, implementing even simple changes can be time-consuming due to the process of approvals across the board. In a microservices approach, Fowler writes, cross-functional teams do a broad-stack implementation of software required for the development.

Product for life

In a microservices approach, the team owns the product for life. It differs from the idea of a project which is developed and handed off to the maintenance teams after completion. This provides a larger role for developers as they can observe and be involved in the daily process of the software and interact with users. The software is no longer seen merely as a one-time project, but as a product that has an ongoing relationship with users.

Decentralized Approach

The centralized governance approach can sometimes be an impediment while building tools. By breaking down an application into many services, developers can get a better choice of technologies to build it. Microservices teams also look at other peer-tested standards for their applications, often using open-source models. Unlike monolithic systems that use one logical database, microservice architecture prefers decentralized data management, with each service managing its dedicated database.

Design for failure

When you break down the application into service components, it must be designed in a way that can help it tolerate the failure of any one of those services. However, monitoring microservices can reduce the risk of failure.

Evolutionary design

Microservice architecture is designed to be evolutionary and is most useful in systems where you may be required to make changes with every new advance in technology. Experts also suggest that you could have applications first designed as a monolith but eventually evolving into microservices architecture as newer features are required.

The Good and the Bad

Pros

  • It enables developers to independently develop and deploy services
  • A small team is required to develop microservice.
  • It’s easy to understand. Teams can continue to stay productive even with member churn.
  • Microservices architecture is easy to scale and integrate with third-party services

Cons

  • It can be particularly complex, and developers will also have to factor in the complexities of a distributed system.
  • As each team owns the product, developers will need to ensure that the mechanism of communication between services is implemented.
  • Testing can become complicated and tedious in a microservices environment.
  • Integration and management of applications can become more complex as the number of services increases.

Designed for the future

Microservice Architecture is one of the evolving approaches to software development that can solve some of the issues that enterprises face with monolithic architecture. At Tricon Infotech we offer a portfolio of services equipped to make your enterprise future ready. To find out how your business can be improved using a Microservices approach, connect with us.