How Microservices Help Make Future-Ready Digital Products

BlogPUBLISHED ON April 24, 2020 | MODIFIED ON December 4, 2020

An introduction to Microservices and their role in future-proofed software and web development

If you’re building a new enterprise web or mobile solution, one of the first things you’ll start with architecting is its back-end.

Before the rise of microservices, developers tasked with the implementation of support for third-party services via API and various clients tended to use monolithic architecture patterns. Not only was it the most obvious way to implement such applications, but also helped utilize hardware resources more efficiently.

Fast forward to 2020, and microservices, which support the CI/CD priority of a DevOps approach to web development are now the preferred approach.

Why There’s so Much Buzz About Microservices Architecture

Not so long ago hardware and software technologies allowed developers to involve more resources and run the app in a few simultaneous processes and services instead of a single one. Eventually, designing software as suites of independently deployable services was called the microservice architecture pattern and brought many significant advantages for engineers. Here’re the top three:

1. If you separate different components of an application into microservices, they can be developed simultaneously and thus speed up the delivery process.

2. Since components are usually spread across many servers, they’re easier to maintain and make the app more reliable and easier to scale in the long term.

3. Unlike the classic approach of “monolith” applications, the microservice architecture makes it much easier for newbie developers to join the project. With monolith apps, the longer they exist, the harder it gets for newcomers to learn them.

Note, however, that following microservices pattern is not a saviour approach that you can implement in the same manner in any app. In most projects, we at K&C also combine it with CQRS, Event sourcing and DDD patterns when designing the architecture of a new enterprise web application.

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Here’s the Approach We Think is Best for Microservice Solutions

While microservice architecture brings many benefits and cost advantages, one of the most important decisions to make is to decide how far you should go with componentization of your application. You’ll have many arguments to consider, for instance:

Microservices pros

+ The more components there in the product, the easier it is to adjust them if you’re expecting significant changes of requirements or entering a highly volatile market.

+ Updating and reviewing the implemented functionality gets easier due to the architecture’s clarity.

Microservices cons

However, maintaining the entire project usually becomes more challenging over time.

More components also mean an increased amount of work for DevOps engineers expected to place them on separate servers and keep the whole infrastructure balanced.

We had a case where an app had be split into dozens of separate components. It certainly showed higher performance indicators, but the developers were often faced with problems and bugs caused by improper interaction between microservices.

Obviously, they could implement the next expected features instead of fixing such malfunctions only if the product’s microservice architecture was simpler. So over-splitting functionality into too many services will cause additional costs for maintenance, support, and updates. Also, the team involved in such a project will require a wide variety of specific skills to be able to work on it effectively.

How we implement a microservice architecture

1. Once the business logic of the future product has been defined, it’s better to start with less services to save time and efforts.2. If there are any functional parts that turn out to be critical in terms of performance, they may be further extracted into separate processes.3. Prepare proof-of-concept of the architecture you are going to implement (or at least most important parts of it) and see what kind of corner cases you might have.

4. Use well-known libraries and frameworks to minimize the costs of updating snapshot versions and dealing with bugs.

5. Cover your code with tests and implement integration tests for API checks.

6. Build and use a well-organized continuous integration pipeline with “one-button” deploy and release.

7. Consider using Docker and Kubernetes to orchestrate services.

While such an approach may sound pretty straightforward, our experience shows this is the most cost- and time-efficient development strategy for most enterprise products.

Why Microservices Are So Effective – When Done Right

Most of our enterprise clients with high-performing applications prefer to stick to microservices, as they see the following benefits in this architecture pattern (when it’s followed as per our approach):

High reliability

Since failure in one service does not affect other services, you can be sure the whole app won’t go down just because of a small bug in the code – and it will work 24/7.

Fast scalability

Services providing critical functionality can be easily scaled to more servers (it can even be done on the fly), while with monolith apps you will be forced to invest time and resources into scaling the entire solution at once.

Rapid workflow

Development can be done in parallel by different developers or teams which allows for adding new people quickly.

Advanced infrastructure

While microservice architecture will require DevOps engineers in your development team, in the end it makes deployment easier and more reliable, especially due to using new technologies like Docker.

However, in the end, everything depends on the competence of your development team. Even the most professional developers can make poor decisions if they have no previous experience in following the microservice architecture pattern.

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