By: Shilpi
July 19 2019

Apprehending the Microservices Adoption ‘Saga’

Microservices has been reached to a much more progressive stage since its inception. Also called Microservice architecture, it is an alternative to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that is being used to develop a varied variety of large software applications where the systems have been divided into many smaller chunks, unlike the monolith in which the services comes as a single well-defined package.

Image, representing microservices, showing hands of a person clicking the picture of a handmade bouquet in one and camera on the other and blurred flowers, trees, people in the background


Moreover, the quick and immediate solutions for the existing systems can be efficiently extracted with the help of the microservices architecture. Moreover, its capability to provide modularity, scalability, availability, all in a single package has made it the most buzzing word in the software development industry.

Developers are going crazy over the Microservices architecture as if with Microservices they can sail smoothly with every other thing in the software world. Is it even possible? How come Microservices can cope up with the organization's need?

Before going deep into it, let’s begin from the beginning and find out what actually a Monolith software is.

Monolithic Applications and Microservices Decoded

Wikipedia opines, “Monolithic application describes a single-tiered software application in which the user interface and data access code are combined into a single program from a single platform.”

In order to overcome the challenges of a monolith application development, microservices were being invented. MARK EMEIS, Senior director of software technologies, CA technologies defines Microservices as, “ an architecture providing a range of technical benefits that contribute to the development velocity and product quality in software projects, while also contributing to the overall business agility”.

Illustration image showing monolith application as blocks enclosing all elements at one place in different colours on the left hand and microservices architecture on the right hand keeping all elements separate in various blocked components
Source: Martin Fowler

Martin Flower claims, there is no accurate definition of Microservices style architecture. Rather it can be stated as a certain procedure to design a variety of independently deployable software applications or services with business capability, automated deployment, intelligence in the endpoints, and decentralized control of languages and data as their common characteristics.

It has been seen that since its origination Microservices Architectures have revolutionized the software development industry by offering perfect solutions for many impromptu complexities. Adopting microservices is surely going to affect the technical and operational culture of an organization.

Many big giants have now adopted the microservices culture by ditching the orthodox monolithic architecture to march ahead in the software development game. NetFlix, at the time of its early growth phase, was not able to construct the data centers offering the scalability to the organization. Innumerable numbers of cropped problems or issues made developers look for the issues, again and again, making them hustle a lot.

With microservices architectures rewriting of the prevailing issues became easy and NetFlix was able to handle billions of API calls from 800 different devices. Currently, the organization is working with 500+ microservices and 30+ engineering team.

On the other hand, when considering Uber, at the time of its rise with one codebase option it was very much simplified to solve all the popped issues. But, later as the business expanded,  components became tightly coupled, condensing was the concern and organizations became accounted for the continuous integration. Choosing Microservices for the same worked in favor of Uber and with Microservices architecture, API gateway connecting all the passengers and drivers, separate units are deployed for distinct functionalities and all features were scaled individually. In total, migration from monolith to microservices has helped Uber to achieve a lot.

Why Adopt Microservices?

An image representing a tower with a bridge in purple colours with engraved lights and blue colour sky


As we saw in the earlier examples, NetFlix and Uber added an extra value to their businesses by embracing microservice architectures. Small, medium or large, size does not matter, a forward leap with microservices will help you attain business goals at a better speed, following reasons comes to the aid :

  • Enhanced Flexibility: Full dissociation and decentralization of the entire application to separate entities, unlike monolith, is done in microservices architecture keeping maintenance streamlined. Maintenance will go unnoticed in case a few of the entities are brought down for the same.
  • Increased Extensibility: Each service is a separate entity can be scaled separately with no need for scaling the entire application. Moreover, key services of the businesses can be deployed on multiple servers increasing the availability and performance without hampering the performance of other services.
  • Tasks and Tools in Relation: Microservices offer mobility in case of the selection of the tools to perform a certain number of tasks. The user is not tied to a single tool and has a choice to select the tool that is most suitable for the task. Each separate service can work on its own language, framework and supporting services keeping the on-point communication in between the other services.
  • Faster Time to Market: The entities in microservices are loosely-coupled which makes each one of them unrelated to each other. Therefore, no changes in the entire codebase are required in order to add or modify any feature. Also, the development of applications as small chunks will make it a quick market-ready.
  • Hassle-Free Debugging and Maintenance : Smaller modules going through a continuous delivery and testing process projects efficient delivery of error-free applications.
  • Improved ROI with Reduced TCO: With multiple teams working on multiple independent entities or services empowers the deployment process by optimizing resources and offering easy pivoting when needed. This reduces the development time enabling code reuse. The expanded efficiency of microservices reduces the infrastructure costs, it also minimizes the downtime. With decoupling, working on expansive machines are not needed, with basic x86 machines wonders will happen.
  • Continuous Delivery: Microservices teams handle the entire development life cycle with a continuous delivery model handled by cross-functional teams. Debugging, testing becomes easy and continuous as developers, testers and operations teams work simultaneously on a single service. Moreover, code from the existing libraries gets reused improving the efficiency of development.

There is no afterthought on the fact that businesses that have adopted microservices have extracted lots of advantages from it. But flipping the coin to the other side clearly projects that not every business is worthy enough to avail the benefits of microservices architecture. Before going for microservices make sure the business is capable enough to manage it.

Red Flags while Adopting Microservices

An image representing a series of warning signs in yellow colour with people, road and buildings in the background and  blue sky

 

  • Head over Heels: With continuous delivery and incremental development model teams would be able to furnish resources rapidly, delays for days or months is not considered, to keep up with the pace and make most of the microservices. Moreover, when it comes to deployment of the services it should be instant.
  • Tangible Monitoring: Each service in the microservice architecture relies on its own language, API, platform, etc. Multiple teams work simultaneously on these services and therefore the teams should know at what time the service breaks down so that tracking becomes easy when it appears. Thus, robust monitoring a must when it comes to the efficient managing of the infrastructure.
  • DevOps Culture: Unlike the traditional culture of software development, in DevOps, both the developers and operations teams work side by side to achieve the definitive objective. When switching to microservices following DevOps becomes a mandate.
  • Testing Complexity Increases: Testing is no effortless with microservices. Each service is dependent on others, either direct or progressive. With the addition of more new features, dependencies increases. Keeping track of all these is quite unserviceable. Whether it is a database error, network latency or caching issues, microservices architectures should be able to handle everything rationally. 
  • When Designing Always Remember, The Worst Is On Its Way: Multiple failures or hiccups are usual in the process of the creation of perfect design. Slow services, system downtime, and unexpected responses are obvious in the case of multiple failures. Load balancing is the part of plan A but having a plan B in case of any discontinuity is the best. In case of any failure, the troubled service should still run in degraded functionality with doing no harm to the entire system.

Prerequisites to Microservices Adoption

Image showing a hand with a measuring tube and three small bottles of brown colours filled with solutions kept on a white coloured table

 

  • Swift Procurement: Entire system should be capable of doing the rapid provisioning, that is, deployment should be apace. Rapid provisioning is basically talked in cloud computing but the task can also be performed without a full cloud service. Automation is crucial for the former.
  • Monitoring is Quintessential: Since the elements or services are loosely coupled in microservices, till the time it reaches the production, things may go immensely wrong and it would be difficult to get the catch during testing environments. The strategy here is to keep a regular check of both technical ( availability of services, counting errors ) and business issues (drop-in orders). Therefore, it is elemental to follow the systematic monitoring procedure for the prompt detection and solution of the arisen issues. 
  • Efficient and Immediate Deployment: Rapid deployment of the application is needed for the appropriate management of all the loosely coupled services in both the test and production environments. A fully automated deployment pipeline (few manual involvements) will come as a boon, executing the task in a couple of hours. 

The aforementioned factors are considered as a paradigm shift for the organizations, keeping both developers and operations teams in close collaboration, building a DevOps Culture, ensuring rapid provisioning, effective root-cause analysis of a problem and in-turn offering the immediate solution in the quick turnaround time.

Read more on architectural elements and principles of microservices here.

Follow the Following for Successful Implementation

Image representing a clustered series of lights hanging with the walls in  blue, pink and orange colours

When thinking of adopting the microservices culture, it is much needed to start the implementation at a pace. The following consideration will let you take a healthy approach to the successful implementation of microservices.

Strangler Method

Motivated from his trip to Australia, Martin Fowler proposed Strangler Method for the well-organized microservices architecture implementation.

It states, “One of the natural wonders of this area [Australia] is the huge strangler vines. They seed in the upper branches of a fig tree and gradually work their way down the tree until they root in the soil. Over many years they grow into fantastic and beautiful shapes, meanwhile strangling and killing the tree that was their host.”

The method converts to step by step approach in which the parts of monoliths application gets converted into microservices elementals, removing monolith eventually. This changeover very much simplified with putting no effect on the whole system and easily transition from traditional towards the microservices architectures. This method ditches speed.

Escalate with Lego

What if an organization does not want to go complete microservice-based and want to have both monoliths and microservices for their application development. Lego strategy comes as a life-saver for such organizations. 

The team based at Kong brought this term into the picture in which a forward leap is taken by constructing with the things in hand, like the lego blocks. In spite of going microservices in total, a microservices are added as a new feature into the system, keeping the monolith architecture intact. With these current issues are not fixed, but the expansion is for sure with time. This creates an effortless hybrid build environment with few risks such as technical debt increment, swinging in between the monolith and microservices code versions, maintenance costs, etc. 

The Nuclear Deal

Starting from scratch is both advantageous and disadvantageous, the nuclear option is used very much rare. It's like while moving completely from traditional monoliths to the new microservices and when this happens, it will crop many unforeseen issues making the services unavailable for some time. As the microservices, infrastructure is on the cloud, software, and staff any changes in the same will be invisible going unnoticed for the users and in the meantime when the changes are under process the end-users will have to deal with a stalled monolith, referred as a ‘second system syndrome’.

Conclusion

Microservices architecture has revolutionized an organization's IT landscape to support business capabilities. Many internet-native companies have successfully adopted and have been reaped major benefits from the same. However, companies in traditional industries are yet hustling with the process to adopt Microservices.

It has been found out that developers love to handle tasks block by block and the same has been facilitated by the microservices architectures. An increase in the agility, efficiency, and resilience of an organization's operational capabilities are the tasks performed by Microservices that transform organizations into higher revenue and lowers costs for an organization. If organizations are planning to adopt microservices then it is going to bring them many major benefits both, technically and operationally but it is inevitable for them to take the necessary measures and calculate all the pros and cons as per their organization's needs and specifications.