An Introduction to Microservices

Enterprise software is often built as a single application, commonly referred to as a monolith. As the codebase grows within the monolith, making the system more complex, it becomes difficult to deliver changes as quickly. This is because the complexity slows down the deployment of the software, bringing to light the challenges of changing data structures, the technology restrictions and many more challenges. This is where microservices comes in.

Microservices are a software architecture style used to build a collection of small decoupled service applications, which work together as a single application. Each small decoupled service is considered an independent service within the main distribution network. An independent service is a single application, usually responsible for doing only one task, and does it very well.

An Introduction to Microservices

For example, let's assume an independent service is responsible for processing and parsing a file. By nature, this service has its own responsibilities and scope of work, it is independently maintained, changed and deployed, without any side effects to the other services. So long as all the independent services are decoupled, agility arises, making it a straightforward process to add new features to the product, upgrade technologies and deploy them in a more dependable manner.

How to Manage a Microservice Team

When it comes to the management of implementing microservices, there is unfortunately no way of avoiding the possibility of human error. You can, however, plan ahead to help adverse risks in your code.

Imagine a situation where several different teams are working on the same codebase within a single application. With so many people having input on one project, it may lead to some development conflicts, resulting in slower deployment of new features to the end-user.

Compare this scenario to a microservices approach, having those decoupled services will benefit from having smaller teams coordinate the business capabilities. Each team now has the capability to organize around specific business unit needs, without negatively impacting the other team's productivity.

Having smaller teams with more controlled management helps to prevent issues that may arise when several different teams are working on the same codebase. Smaller teams benefit the production of your product with flexibility and more independence to work fluidly and deliver new features in a shorter amount of time.

Technology Agnostic and Innovation

Microservices allow multiple technologies to work together with distributed services. For example, while a team uses technology X to solve a problem, another team may simultaneously decide to use technology Y. Team Y made this decision because technology Y is a more effective option for solving their specific problems. Having this choice allows each team to make changes on either side, all while not affecting the other team's initiatives. It gives teams the flexibility to evolve their services based on their demand. They are able to choose the best technologies, frameworks and methodologies to better support their team goals.

With these advancements, innovation initiatives and technology trends that were previously hard to imagine up and running, are now accessible to implement and deploy, as all services are decoupled and independent from each other.

Should I Use Microservices?

While there are many benefits such as timely delivery, flexibility and scalability, when working with microservices, there is no single answer to this question. As microservices architecture grows, new challenges continue to emerge. To maintain a governance over all of these (sometimes hundreds) small services, it can be overwhelming. Company organization is a key factor to the success of its use as well as requiring an organization to manage the teams working together on this project. Your company may benefit from the flexibility and decentralized services when choosing a microservice architecture style, but you must be aware of the trade-offs and there will always be new challenges.

There are no silver bullets - but it’s worth it to at least look into whether or not you have the infrastructure to benefit from implementing microservices.