Understanding Microservices – The new software architecture pattern.


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Understanding Microservices
Understanding Microservices

The changing business needs are affecting how software applications are built. In a stark contrast to the past, today, software developers are required to build applications that are scalable enough to penetrate into new geographical regions without getting deployed there. Businesses look for applications that ensure faster delivery of features and capabilities to respond instantly to customer demands.

It’s a culmination of these factors and many more that developers have started building distributed cloud-based applications, driven and controlled by the end user (business). Find out what does this mean –

The onset of Microservices

It defines the approach in which an application is divided into smaller units. These units are developed separately and communicate with each other over standard protocols with well-defined interfaces. Each component is built around specific business capabilities and are easily changeable and deployable with minimal centralized management.

What’s important to note is that these components have different programming languages, frameworks, and data stores. In short, microservices is a direct contrast to the conventional, “monolithic” approach which involves the entire application to be developed in one piece.

What has led to Microservices?

Software developer Martin Fowler has promoted the adoption of Microservices to solve the annoyance that developers usually face while building applications in a monolithic architecture. For instance, even the smallest of modifications in monolithic applications mean that the entire monolith need to be rebuilt which undoubtedly is time-consuming. This prevents application updates as rapidly as required.

Microservices, on the contrary, involves the presence of individual components where each run a unique process and manage own database. So developers experience a distributed approach to building software, where multiple service focused components are built in parallel. The software components are individually built, deployed, re-built and re-deployed.

Unlike monolithic applications that use a single server, the composable software pieces are easily spread around multiple severs and data centers. In any situation, when any component reports fault,
developers rectify it or spin up another while the rest of the application continues to function uninterruptedly. It is observed that microservice applications allow more efficient scaling because developers easily create duplicates of the most heavy used software units.

So, the new architecture pattern of breaking down the application into service-oriented composable pieces has been received warmly by developers, at large. Using microservices approach, cloud based software developers are experiencing three major benefits. Let’s see what are these:

The benefits of Microservices

1. There is complete freedom to use any language, framework and data storage technology. As per the nature of the service that the component is built to provide, developers can choose varying options.

2. Software components are built, deployed and managed independently. This facilitates a more fast and agile development cycle.

3. Independent deployment of software components allow developers to use different infrastructures. For instance, according to the requirement in an application, some units can be deployed on private cloud while the remaining on public cloud.

In short, application designing and development with a microservice approach is a blessing for the developers!!

Container Technologies

For running microservice applications, monitoring, management, and scaling of the different software parts is required. It is precisely at this point that container technologies come into the picture. It won’t be wrong to say that container technologies act as enablers of microservice architecture.

Unlike monolithic applications where multiple functions are packed into the same virtual or physical machine – in microservice architecture, containers are used to package software units. Each container holds a piece of software along with everything that is required to run it.

Containers are just tools and it is entirely possible to build a microservice application without using them. However, it is not ideally advised to do so. That is because containers offer a range of benefits to developers and end users:

1. Frequent Updates

Containers allow developers to easily modify the application by adding new capabilities. This leads to more frequent updates which implies more value to the customers.

2. Quick Scaling

Scalability is never an issue as containers scale up and down in seconds. So microservice applications can be scaled up at any time to satisfy peak customer demand and then scaled down.

3. Immediate remedies to software issues

Usage of containers make the work easy for developers. They identify software issues quickly and isolate the problem container. The problem is rectified with the necessary changes and the container is rolled back into production. Unlike the monolithic architecture where error in one part disrupts the entire application, the presence of software units in different containers ensures that error in one does not affect the other units.

Final Thoughts

Microservice applications composed of small, customer-focused service units (that are independently built, deployed and scaled) are a true match for businesses across industries. Compared to monolithic application, businesses can easily scale their microservice applications. They can deliver faster and more efficiently to compete in the markets of today and tomorrow, keeping their software fast and secure.

Big companies like Netflix, Amazon, eBay, Google, Facebook and Twitter, etc have already embraced the microservice model. When will you?


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