The adoption of Cloud computing gave birth to a Microservices Architecture, an approach to structuring the software architecture as a collection of services. This approach is known for streamlining the development process and making software delivery more quick and efficient.

In this post, we look at the Microservice Architecture: the nature of microservices, the brightest examples from well-known companies, as well as the benefits and shortcomings of this architecture approach. 

A Microservices Architecture: Definition

A Microservices Architecture entails groups of self-contained services, each running as a separate process designed for a specific function. Contributing to an entire software’s functioning, they communicate with each other via simple mechanisms, for example, HTTP-based APIs. 

To help define Microservices, it’s worth emphasizing that their concept pursues these main principles: 

  • Single responsibility principle

This principle suggests that each service should perform a single operation and only one responsibility. With its separate module structure, it resembles a LEGO kit that consists of many modules. If we map this analogy onto software, we will see that each module is a separate function and, when joined together, they form software. 

  • Based around business goals

A Microservice Architecture focuses on particular business functions and uses the most appropriate technologies to ensure the function is fulfilled. 

  • One team for one service 

The team that builds a service is responsible for it from start to finish. This way, developers oversee the daily module operation and analyze how customers use it to improve it during post-launch. 

What is a Microservice?

Identifying software’s services is referred to as decomposition. That is the lion’s share of work that leads to an architecture that ties back to business goals. There are various approaches to software decomposition. 

  • Decomposition by business capability. A common practice is to create a Microservice Architecture according to capabilities that drive value, such as billing, sales, marketing, order delivery, etc. Each microservice here will be responsible for one business element. 
  • Decomposition by use case. Specific actions can also be the subject for creating a separate microservice. For example, Netflix broke up the system into independent services like credit card payments, movie recommendations, etc. 
  • Decomposition by resources. Spotify uses this approach to isolate user account management from other services, which lets the service maintain a personal approach and keep user data safe.

A Microservice Architecture: 5 Examples 

Some of the big tech names are taking advantage of the implementation of microservices. These companies chose to decompose their monolithic apps and transform them into a collection of microservices to scale quickly, become more agile, and eventually – to drive more profit. 

Amazon

Back in the 2000s, Amazon was a vast monolithic application, causing development delays and standing in the way of scaling. The customer base kept growing, so the development team faced the need to refactor the system from the ground up. They opted in for breaking the monolith into small, independent, single-purpose apps. 

The adoption of microservices led to Amazon developing solutions to support Microservices Architectures, like Amazon AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Apollo.

Netflix

Netflix decided to move away from a vertical structure towards a horizontally scaled system on AWS. They started with movie-coding and other behind-the-scenes activities, all the way to customer-facing elements. The company needed two years to refactor its monolithic structure and finalize the transition to microservices. Netflix is running 500+ microservices and APIs that cover 2+B requests daily. 

Spotify

The company’s journey to microservices started when the development team was tasked with finding a solution to scale to millions of users across multiple platforms. They sought a competitive edge in an ever-evolving market that would allow them to adapt faster. Microservices allowed them to meet these requirements, and today Spotify has 800+ services that make a flexible structure, eliminate bottlenecks and test quickly. Such structure is also deemed more failure-resistant. 

Uber 

Back in the day when Uber was a new entrant on the market, the company designed its solution to be offered in one city. That warrants the choice of a Monolithic Architecture, but as the company started expanding, it brought on scalability and Continuous Integration challenges. That’s when the team decided to redesign their system into microservices. A Microservices Architecture allowed them to use API gateway and deploy services with single functions separately. 

eBay 

The company struggled with handling a heavy load (4B page views a day) back in 2011. A Monolithic Architecture couldn’t allow eBay to deliver features fast. As such, the team decided to dismantle essentials like databases, app tiers, and the search engine. That allowed the team to handle unwieldy codebase more efficiently, improve the team’s productivity, accelerate time-to-market, and achieve the website’s stability. 

What are the advantages of a Microservices Architecture?

Microservices let your teams work independently, developing several microservices at the same time. Since much less code goes into producing one service, developers are working faster and more productively. As such, the development time can be significantly reduced. Moreover, businesses can enjoy the following benefits: 

Shorter time-to-market 

Since the development cycles in a Microservice Architecture are much shorter, implementations and updates can also be carried out in a much more agile manner.

Easy implementation

Since microservices are smaller than monolithic apps, it takes away the troubles associated with implementing features in the monolithic approach.

Highly scalable

If there is a need to scale certain services, it can be implemented across multiple servers and infrastructures.

Robustness

Properly developed microservices won’t affect each other in any way. This means that if one component fails, it won’t bring an entire system to its knees, as with the monolithic approach.

Better understanding

As an intricate app is broken down into smaller chunks, it’s easier to develop and test individual components, leading to shorter development cycles.

No tech constraints

Thanks to language-independent APIs, developers can have free reign to choose their preferred technology for the function.

Read Also: Microservices vs. Monolithic: Which Architecture Suits Best for Your Project?

What are the shortcomings of a Microservices Architecture?

If your company is considering adopting a Microservice Architecture, be prepared to adjust your teams and workflow, as it requires organizational and cultural changes where each team will have its own development processes and be responsible for individual services. 

  • Time-consuming preparations: It takes time to identify the dependencies between your services. Note that the completion of a build can trigger several more builds due to such dependencies. Besides, you need to consider the impact microservices have on your data.
  • Microservices are independent, but building, maintaining, and optimizing connections in microservices’ system requires lots of effort. 
  • A complex system means more complex deployment. A collection of independent services boosts operational complexity. Thus, deployment calls for managing cooperation between multiple services. 
  • A lot of effort goes into developing and testing API communication between the services. This requires collaboration between teams responsible for different services. It’s also mandatory that you have a centralized view of your system to identify the root cause of problems.
  • Implementation and maintaining microservices calls for transparent cooperation and communication between all units. 

Conclusion

It may not always be viable for organizations to develop a large application to manage their end-to-end business functions. Instead, they opt for scalable and agile solutions, such as Microservices.

At NCube, we build remote teams of software developers for companies worldwide. If there’s a need for a Microservices Architecture at your organization, we will hire relevant specialists for your team, like Go developers, AWS and Kubernetes specialists, and software architects. Let’s connect. 

 

How to organize code is the first thing that comes to mind when creating a new product. In this context, you’ve probably heard of the monolithic vs. microservice architecture debate. While monolith apps have been around for a long time, microservices are considered to be a relatively novel way of designing a software system. In fact, a whole range of technologies appeared within the philosophy of DevOps that brought us the ability to build scalable, distributed solutions based on microservices. In this article, we will look closely at these two approaches so you can pick out one that is right for your needs.

What is a monolithic architecture? 

It’s a traditional approach to software development in which the entire system function is based on a single application as a single, autonomous unit. A helpful analogy here would be a large block of stone (a.k.a monolith). In software development, this single block would stand for a single platform.

In a monolithic app, all functions are managed and served in one place. Of course, an app has its inner structure consisting of a database, client-side interface, business logic, but it still remains an indivisible unit. Its components don’t require API to communicate. 

Advantages of monolithic applications

  • Monolithic architecture is easier to implement, while microservices require much more effort. It’s simpler to implement business logic without worrying about the orchestration of the components. 
  • Monolithic apps have higher performance than microservice apps because they don’t involve API for communication between components. 
  • As a single unit, a monolithic app is easier to debug and test since you can do automated testing without considering different run-time environments as with microservices. 
  • Deployment is very simple. It’s down to using a script that loads your module and launches the application. 
  • There are much less cross-cutting concerns like login, caching, memory management, and other with one application in place. 

Like any solution, monolithic architecture has its drawbacks. Here’s a list of some disadvantages:

  • Tight coupling. Monolithic applications are characterized by tightly coupling processes, so their code base tends to become convoluted as it grows, so it becomes harder to isolate services for independent scaling and code support. 
  • Low flexibility. Each element is dependent on the others, so any change affects the whole network. As such, changes are time-consuming and need to be carefully coordinated. Also, each small update comes with redeployment. 
  • Scaling confines. Monolith apps can only scale as a whole. Scaling components individually is impossible. 

What is a microservice software architecture? 

In a microservice architecture, business logic is broken down into lightweight, single-purpose self-sufficient services. As such, the infrastructure is akin to collection modules. Each service within this type of architecture is responsible for a specific business goal. In essence, the microservice architecture looks like a Lego construction, which can be decomposed into a number of modules. The interaction between the components of the system ensured by means of API. 

Monolithic vs Microservice Architecture

Advantages of microservices architecture:

  • Autonomy. You can build cross-functional, independent teams for each business goal. The features they deploy won’t affect other services. 
  • Agility. Microservices let you select and use different languages and storage technologies for different functions. To top it off, microservices can function on any device, both in Cloud and on-premise. 
  • Scalability. As opposed to monolith architecture, you don’t need to scale the entire system – it’s enough to alter only one element of the system. 
  • High reliability. Because microservices are autonomous, a failure or damage in one module don’t affect others. 
  • Modules are reusable and can be reprofiled for other tasks. 
  • Continuous delivery is made simple. You can work on specific elements of the system without disrupting the whole system. 

Disadvantages of microservices architecture:

  • Designing distributed systems can be challenging. A great deal of effort goes into designing the connections inside the distributed system. 
  • Microservice architecture requires more resources and usually takes more time than monolithic architecture.
  • There are more Cross-Cutting Concerns with microservices – logging, caching needs to be taken care of in every service. 
  • Complex deployment. The number of elements increases its operational complexity. Thus, deployment becomes harder because developers need to manage numerous autonomous services and interactions between them.
  •  The more complex the structure is, the more difficult testing will be. In particular, testing of the interactions between the services. 

Monolithic vs microservice architecture compared

  Monolithic architecture Microservice architecture
Deployment deploy an entire system once, adjust as needed possibility to deploy (and rollback) each microservice individually
Maintenance .NET, Java, PHP, or Ruby, Python/Django skills are required DevOps, Docker, Kubernetes, Lambda, etc skills are required
Reliability one failure may cause the whole system to go down a failure of one service doesn’t affect other services
Scalability low, only vertical high
Agility impossible to implement new technologies, programming languages possibility to use different languages, technologies for  different business needs
Development teams are involved in the development process simultaneously different teams can work on different elements of the solution
Updates updates might take a while because of internal dependencies within the architecture and other developers working at the same time fast updates due to the minimalistic nature of modules due to the autonomous nature of services
Testing possibility of end-to-end testing each component needs to be tested individually
Security secure data processing and transferring is easier at the system level communication between services via API gateway raises security issues

 

When to go with a monolithic architecture?

In some cases, a monolithic approach is a time-tested strategy:

  • you plan to build a small app.
  • you don’t plan to grow your team. In this case, designing and managing a complex system is not the best way to go. 
  • you’re at the ideation stage. If you are at the first stage of SDLC, your product is likely to grow over time. A monolithic architecture allows for fast iterating. 
  • you are building an MVP. At this stage, your goal is to gather feedback from first users as soon as possible and monolith apps are the quickest way. 

When to go with microservices?

Plenty of companies switched to the microservice architecture after their customer demand increased significantly. Among them are Amazon, PayPal, Spotify, and many more. 

  • you want to build a large-scale solution.
  • you have a lot of time on your hands since microservice architecture requires thorough planning.
  • scalability is critical for your project and you plan to grow your development team.
  • you need to use different languages for different elements like C++ for backend and Rails for the user interface. 
  • You want to build multiple independent teams that would work on different functions of your solution.

Read also: TOP PYTHON WEB FRAMEWORKS

Afterword

When the tradeoff boils down to these types of architecture, consider your organizational structure. If you have several teams that will work on one product, microservices would be a good fit.  On the other hand, the team of three developers is better suited for monolithic architecture. 

Other important factors are the agility and complexity of the project. A fast-paced project with complex business logic fits in well with the microservice concept. 

But if you are unfamiliar with microservices, consider a monolithic approach with a modular structure. When your solution grows, a modular structure will let you decompose an app easily.

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