Exploring the Microservices Architecture

Wednesday Apr 19th 2017 by Joydip Kanjilal
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Learn how to take advantage of Microservices architecture, a suite of independently deployable and loosely coupled services to design complex applications.

There has been a lot of hype on Microservices over the past few years. Microservices is an architectural approach or an architectural style, to be precise, towards building flexible, extensible, independently deployable services. In Microservices, you have a single application as a suite of small independently deployable services with each of these services running and communicating via lightweight communication mechanisms.

In essence, you can leverage Microservices to build a large application as a suite of modular, independently deployable services. This article presents an overview of Microservices and the various strategies for adopting to this architectural style. This article also discusses why Microservices is useful and the best strategies that can be adopted to build micro services that can serve your business goal.

Why Do We Need Microservices Architecture?

Albeit the fact that there is no standard definition of Microservices, this section attempts to present an understanding of what Microservices are, its goals and benefits. Martin Fowler states: "In short, the microservice architectural style is an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API. These services are built around business capabilities and independently deployable by fully automated deployment machinery."

Enterprises such as Amazon, Netflix, and eBay have started adopting the Microservices architecture. So, why this transition from monolithic design structures to Microservices? The Microservices architectural style can be used to structure an application into independent, loosely coupled and deployable services. This also helps in a continuous delivery/deployment of your applications seamlessly. Essentially, this architectural platform helps you to build services that can leverage a wide variety of technologies, platforms, and devices.

One design goal of the Microservices architecture is to provide a way to design complex applications that easily can be deployed as separate units and can scale over time with ease. The Microservices architecture scales by distributing the load across multiple servers, with each server hosting one or more services.

Applications can be either monolithic or based on the Microservices pattern. In a typically monolithic architecture, the business functionality is all stored into a single process. So, the change cycles are all tied together—even if there is a minor change in the application, you would need to rebuild and re-deploy the entire application again to push the changes to the production environment. In contrast, the Microservices architecture breaks your application's functionality into a number of independently deployable services. Scalability is achieved by distributing these services across servers. Hence, you can deploy just the service or services that have changed, rather than having to redeploy the entire application whenever a change occurs.

Microservices: the Challenges

There isn't any technology or architecture that is devoid of drawbacks and challenges, and Microservices is no exception. Developing distributed applications using the Microservices architecture can be complex. You would need to define the application boundaries perfectly. You should be extra careful of managing multiple databases, transactions, and especially managing the network latency. Deploying and testing Microservices can be both complex and tricky and you should be aware of these challenges.

Best Practices

To design scalable Microservices, you should ensure that the application boundaries are defined properly. Build simple and effective services and release your services early. You also should have a proper versioning strategy to version the services. The choice of the right technology also plays a major role in the success of the Microservices architecture. You should have a plan in place to test your Microservices. You also need to have the right plan for managing transactions and the databases. You should manage all logs in one place and use a mechanism to monitor the services.

Summary

The Microservices architecture provides a way to break large applications into a collection of loosely coupled modules that can communicate with each other through simple APIs. This article presented a discussion on the Microservices architecture, its benefits, goals, and challenges. Happy reading!

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