As demand for and interest in microservices continues to grow, it is important for companies to critically assess whether microservices is the right fit for their organization. A 2018 survey by Dimensional Research Inc, found that almost all of those surveyed believed that microservices would become their companies’ default application architecture, with as much as 86 percent believing it will happen in the next five years.
While microservices can offer significant benefits over monolithic and service-oriented architecture, it is not right for every situation. A thorough analysis of the organization’s needs as well as an examination of whether or not the application is a good fit is warranted.
Business Needs Should Drive the Initiative
Choosing microservices just because your competitors are doing it, or because other businesses have had success with this application architecture approach is not the right approach. The first step is to examine the problems you are experiencing and determine if microservices is the best solution.
These questions can guide your analysis:
- Does making small application changes require you to perform expensive and timely redeployments of the entire software suite?
- Could your internal and external users benefit from features being deployed in a timelier manner?
- Will faster deployments help you reach market faster and make you more competitive?
- Will decoupling your current application strengthen your system and result in increased reliability?
- Does your monolithic application host a large amount of unneeded functionality?
- Do you require your application to effectively utilize the scalability and flexibility of the cloud?
- Do certain services need to scale rapidly on-demand?
- Could you benefit from leveraging multiple programming languages for specific parts of your application?
- Are you dealing with large amounts of data that have heterogeneous characteristics—where individual services could benefit from utilizing their own data store?
If you answer “Yes” to the majority of these questions, chances are strong that you can benefit from transforming your application to a microservices infrastructure. It could also be that your monolithic, all-in-one software environment no longer fits the way your organization works. Over time, such legacy systems can become difficult and expensive to manage and may provide functionality that hardly anybody uses.
Microservices are not the right fit for every application. For new applications, it is often best to start by building a monolithic application, and then decouple into microservices after the application concept has been proven and has grown substantially in size.
Determine If Your Application Is a Good Fit
The reason for this is that monolithic applications are much simpler in terms of communication, security, and monitoring when compared to microservices. Monolithic applications also tend to come at a lower cost in terms of the overhead and the latency related to the increase in remote calls made by microservices.
For these reasons, start-ups should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of beginning with a microservices architecture.
When a microservices architecture is utilized for the right reasons and implemented properly, businesses experience a massive reduction in unused functionality and gain enormous benefits compared to applications that use a monolithic architecture.
Core advantages of microservices include improved modularity results in applications that are easier to understand, develop and test, streamlined new developer on-boarding, and ability to better leverage Agile, DevOps and CI/CD principles to automate testing and deployment. In addition, microservices offers the ability to update a single service and roll back buggy updates reducing risk and improving the speed of deployment.
Each service can be written in a different programming language, allowing developers to choose a language that offers the best features for each service. A small cross-functional team can manage each service, enabling team autonomy, distributed leadership and decentralization.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
The deployment of microservices means the organization is better able to leverage the scalability and flexibility of the cloud. Resolving issues is much simpler as they can be isolated to a single service, and there is a high degree of fault isolation.
Each microservice can also leverage its own database and storage techniques, which is key since services have different needs when it comes to data storage; as applications become larger and the volume of data grows, the data sets can have varying characteristics and processing requirements. Software teams can also choose the best data storage implementation to address the specific need of the service in order to achieve the end goal.
However, microservices are not without their disadvantages, including:
- While each service on its own is easier to understand, develop and deploy, the bigger picture becomes more complicated to manage.
- More communication is required between services; this can result in higher overhead costs associated with network congestion and latency.
- Network security becomes increasingly complex; with a growing number of microservices, communication between each service needs to be secured.
- A strong understanding of DevOps is required to handle communications, automated deployments, testing, and monitoring.
Most of these challenges arise from the complexities introduced by adding independent services. But with the right tools, processes, preparation and expertise, all of the issues can be overcome and businesses can start to benefit from the flexible, agile architecture that is microservices.
In the lead up to Nearshore Americas’s special webinar presentation on April 3rd at 2pm EDT Mike Hahn, one of the webinar panel members, is exploring what you need to know about microservices and getting it right for your organisation. You can register here.