Key Considerations While Shifting to Microservices Architecture
What Exactly is a Microservice?
Microservices is a method of structuring a software or an application as a loosely coupled service. Each service executes one function and is a component of the system that can be developed, maintained, and scaled individually. Each module supports one goal and uses a simple interface to communicate with other services.
Traditionally, software programs were built using a monolithic approach, where the entire software was built as a single unit. For eg., the entire unit would be responsible for database operations, executing business logic, handling HTTPS requests, background processing, client communication, user authentication, and so on.
In this structure, every tiny change in the system would require rebuilding, checking, and deploying the entire application. Change, even in a line of code, would prompt developers to make a new build of the complete system, which was time-consuming.
It became clear that the monolithic architecture was holding back innovation, scalability, agility, and independence. The microservices approach brings all this and more. Where there is a large system with intricate component management, scaling, and individual development, microservices has become the obvious choice.
However, making that move from monolithic to microservices isn’t easy. There are several considerations to factors in.
Key Considerations for Businesses Shifiting To Microservices Architecture :
- Degree of Independence – The first thing to consider is the level of independence you want for the services in your microservices architecture. In the first approach, each service is completely independent with its own UI and database. This would be an instance of an extreme microservices architecture where services are entirely decoupled and share nothing. The difficulty arises in ensuring all datastores stay in sync and updated at all times. To rectify this, in the second approach, you can choose to share some components between the services, such as the database. This would make it easier for you to ensure data consistency and enforce data standards, regulations, and compliances within the software.
- Technology Stack – It’s hard enough to decide a tech stack for a monolithic application. Now, imagine doing that for each service within a microservices architecture. If your services are heterogeneous, this could create an issue with standardization. Moreover, it becomes harder for your people to move between teams if every team uses a different tech stack. A recommended approach is to take a balanced approach in deciding the desirable tech stack across the application. If a team wants to override the default choice, they will have to support their decision with the pros and cons of the change that compelled their decision. The ideal tech stack may include the cloud provider, infrastructure, storage, monitoring, programming language, and a testing and logging framework.
- Complexity – Microservices impacts the operational complexity of the underlying application. You need to consider aspects such as the infrastructure which needs to be scaled up and down for a sophisticated level of automation. Load balancing and scaling, which will happen either for all services or only a few, will be a concern. Service discovery as services in a microservices world changes dynamically due to upgrades and scaling and that should be part of the consideration set. As should be monitoring, which needs to be configured for each service individually. And, think of the capability to handle scenarios when a subset of services are scaled up or down.
- Decouple Capabilities – There is a definite cost associated with moving to microservices from monolithic systems. Therefore, you’d want to consider what capability your systems have that can be decoupled and how you can migrate incrementally. Assess this in your system by taking a look at the operational readiness for creating services or migrating them. The primary idea is to start with capabilities that are fairly decoupled right in the monolith. These could be services that don’t require changes to several client-facing applications that use monolith and don’t use a data store. After decoupling simple edge services, consider those deeply embedded in the monolithic architecture.
- Continuous Delivery – As Martin Fowler points out in his article on microservices tradeoffs, easily deploying small independent units is a blessing for development, but operations get more complicated as a few applications become hundreds of microservices. This reinforces the vital role of continuous delivery. While CD is a valuable skill for monoliths, it’s absolutely essential for microservices. Organizations such as Netflix and Amazon have spent their energy in building homegrown custom continuous delivery pipelines for microservices. As an alternative, organizations can choose a CD automation platform for a less intensive choice.
- Data Services – Refactoring the underlying data structures is one of the most complex issues of migrating to microservices. There are several models that you can follow. Use reference data to populate drop-downs in GUIs, Master Data Management to eliminate several views of an entity such as the customer within a database, flat object structure to store documents such as feedback surveys, independent tables to support data retrieval with SQL, and blob storage for storing a structured Java object, for instance.
- Team Organization – Lastly, you must reorganize your teams to ensure that all services are developed, deployed, and maintained independently. You may need an independent team to work on each microservice because when engineers work on multiple microservices, they might make optimization decisions that are not in the best interest of all associated services. Each team may need to have capabilities such as development, testing, Ops, database administration, UX, and product management. The central idea is to organize teams for maximum optimization of each microservice, without dependence on other teams.
Challenges of Shifting to Microservices and Why you need a Reliable Partner:
As you would have inferred, migrating from a monolithic architecture to microservices isn’t a job for everyone. When you need to make so many key considerations and weigh several pros and cons, you need specialized assistance from a reliable partner.
At ThinkSys, we make microservices possible even when you have a hyper-complex monolithic application architecture. We can ease the many hiccups you might encounter in that shift.