By: Shankar
May 5 2019

Throwing light on hybrid microservices

Human Origins is a fascinating study that keeps surprising the modern world. There’s a limestone cave in Siberia that gave the scientists the fossil of an extraordinary human hybrid. Research studies like this throw light on this world we live in and reveal how marvellous it was like tens of thousands of years ago with a range of human diversity. Reading about human hybrid causes consternation and the research findings will keep exciting us with more discoveries. But this is not the only ‘hybrid’ that excites us in this era of digitisation. Hybrid microservices can have a huge impact on the workflow of digital businesses.

macro photography of grey honeycomb surface


Sam Newman, author of ‘Building Microservices: Designing fine-grained systems’, states that if the team is talented, can efficiently set boundaries between processes and modules and can work with numerous communication protocols, then a microservices approach is a great option. Either you can refactor the application to run on microservices or keep working on your monolithic architectural setup. And, as a matter of fact, it is possible to have your microservices and leverage them for some parts of your app but not entirely. That means, other components keep working on monolithic architecture. When you do so, you take a hybrid approach to microservices.

Taking a hybrid approach

To define it in simple terms, hybrid microservices architecture constitutes some parts of an app built and deployed as microservices and the rest of the app remain monolithic. It’s similar to the hybrid cloud which is a mixture of public, private, and/or on-premises infrastructure. Just like hybridising the cloud, hybridising microservices architecture lends flexibility, scalability and security merits of microservices where you do not have to revamp your existing application to run fully as microservices. Adopting the hybrid approach is also well within the reach of software delivery teams as these teams might not think the attempt to refactor the monoliths entirely is feasible because of the shortage of time and the lack of expertise.

Hybrid microservices architecture constitutes some parts of an app built and deployed as microservices and the rest of the app remain monolithic

In an interview, Wunder Capital’s CTO Dave Riess talked about the adoption of a hybridised microservices architecture. He said, “The microservice approach looks pretty appealing when you’re coming out of a monolithic environment”. Riess and Wunder Capital chose hybrid microservices by building services within their monolith and not having them run on different servers. Riess states that this enables them to make service calls that are effectively method calls and do not have to be bothered about asynchrony that is done in a service-oriented world. He further adds that working across 10 different code bases is not concern too. Hybridised microservices has helped Wunder Capital to compartmentalise the intricacy in their namespace servers.

Challenges and best practices

Martin Fowler, a developer, author and public speaker, says that considering the hybrid approach to microservices should be avoided if the project isn’t large and intricate. So, with the help of one programming language, the project can be built easily, then monolithic will work tremendously well. Being extremely flexible and modular, microservices requires management penalty i.e. the applications built with the help of microservices depends on the skill of the development team and how well they can fix, update and modify the app. He further says that the speed should be considered by the development team during the evaluation of the microservices approach. The development of a new app will see through several attempts to get right. Monolithic architecture can assist you in standing up a prototype and iterating quickly. This is where the hybrid approach becomes interesting. It is important to kick off the proceedings with a monolith, adhere to modularity within the software and move on to microservices architecture later on.

Some of the best practices include the considerations of scalability, security and updates. It is important to recognise which parts of your application will deliver the best benefit when they run as microservices. Also, it is better to develop a hybrid microservices strategy that reduces the extra intricacy introduced by microservices like identifying which microservices will need fewer API calls and which of them can be packaged into separate containers. Such measures can help in avoiding the need for handling more API overhead or containers than what is required.

Conclusion

Hybrid microservices will evolve perpetually and can be implemented by revamping a part of your application into microservices. With time, the rebuilding process will also grow. A microservices roadmap can help in your pursuit of transition. Down the road, you can attain a level of scale that justifies breaking out a separate service in a standalone faction which will be comparatively easy to do.