What is microservices? Architecture & Example
Microservice-based architecture is a current approach to application or digital product development that suggests breaking the entire product module into small yet self-sufficient & independent modules that get coupled later. Mostly, it’s used for cloud-native solutions.
The Main Characteristics
As far as the architecture of this inventive application development approach is involved, miscellaneous disconnected and distinctive elements and services unite together to form microservices. They all communicate for seamless data exchange so that goal can be fully achieved. This is the core of everything.
Below mentioned are a few terms that define it appropriately.
- Exclusivity: Each component is one of a kind and is appointed to address unique needs or functions
- Decentralization: Element dependencies are less or nearly zero. The components are decentralized and loosely correlated. Recurrent and unambiguous communication is mandatory.
- Great resilience: Each microservices component is highly resilient. They have the tendency to bear faults and failures with ease. Failure in one component will have nearly zero impact on the functions of the main solution.
- API dependencies: APIs are vital for any application to function. After all, it plays a major role in internal and external communication.
- Separate data storage: Tiny atomic services, in this approach, don’t have shared databases. Each service owns exclusive storage space.
Benefits and drawbacks of Microservices
Just like all other paradigms and approaches, microservices are also a mixed bag with obvious pros & cons. As a prospective user, everyone must weigh both and then make a choice. Have a look at the positives and negatives of this development technique. Application development becomes very simple when you go for microservices-based procedures.
Some of the positives of opting for it are:
- Independent and Highly scalable Process
As we all know, no service (following this pattern) has any co-dependence. They can be developed distinctly. This sort of development has various advantages. For instance, you don’t have to wait for one development to be completed before commencing the other aspect.
All the development-related aspects can be managed simultaneously. Also, you can work with a small team. This speeds up the development. Easy scalability is a sure-shot promise. Microservices permit development experts to enhance one operational front and its capabilities without disturbing the entire application.
For instance, if you want to update the Reporting facility of a data analysis application, there is no need to renovate the entire application. Just pick the Reporting feature microservices and update it. This is a great feature as scalability becomes an easy job.
- Fewer failure possibilities
Microservices come with high fault tolerance. Operational & technical failure in one component will have zero or nearly zero impact on other services. This reduces the overall application failure rate as the main application will remain functional even if its one component isn’t doing good.
- Easy coding
Coding microservices is easy. It happens in two ways. Firstly, developers can easily understand the code of one service as its coding won’t be tangled with other services. If they want to study the code pattern or spot a coding fault, it’s easy with this distinctive coding.
Secondly, developers can use different programming languages for coding different services. It’s not mandatory to have only one programming language throughout the entire application. They can use Python for one service and Java for another. This is superb for organizations having a workforce, seasoned with multiple skills as they can use all of them in one project.
- Easy handling and customization
Microservices are so independent that they won’t ask for stringent skills and expertise. The independence that they have makes them very easy to handle. Any developer can understand what a component is all about.
Developers can easily roll back to previous iterations. Everything about them is so simple and easy to understand that switching the workforce won’t hamper the development process. In case your development team switches in between, the new team will be able to understand what was going on or has happened to date. They can continue instantly.
Additionally, the integration abilities of microservices are laudable. They pair seamlessly with a bunch of open–source integration tools and allow an organization to customize the entire development process.
All these benefits are utterly lucrative. But, we wished microservices to be a silver bullet, which it is not. It has certain drawbacks as well. For instance:
- Testing becomes tougher than ever with microservices because of the distributed deployed method
- As APIs and API gateways are used extensively on the communication front, one has to be extra conscious about API security. Measures like security standards, cloud-based WAF, API authentication, and many more should be enforced from the beginning, which is not an easy job.
- Communication overheads double up when one uses microservices.
- It’s not an ideal choice to make for building small digital solutions as it complicates things in this case. Hence, it has limited use cases.
- The architecture of microservices demands added efforts to bring fault tolerance, risk mitigation, load balancing, and less network latency into effect.
Example of a microservice
Microservices adoption is prevailing with time. Each day, more organizations adopt this for feature-rich cloud-native app development in less time and with full flexibility. This is why we can see many applications built based on this approach around us. Let’s have a look at this microservice example list to know about a few real world projects.
The Netflix app that we all use today has attained its perfection because of the continual developments and updates it has experienced from its beginning to the present day. It was first based on monolithic architecture and later adopted SOA.
But, that wasn’t enough as user requests increased and its users demanded more device compatibility. This is when the development team shifted to microservices that allow API usage. API allowed the app to share more than 5 calls to the backend service at a time.
Recently, Amazon also started using the microservices approach. Earlier, it was using a two-tiered architecture that failed big time to handle the high number of API calls that the Amazon app used to receive. As the resources of these API calls are different, it makes things more complex.
It soon started looking for a better alternative in the form of service-oriented architecture. This is what paved the path for microservices. Amazon AWS and Apollo are two applications that AWS developed with this approach. Shifting to microservices helped AWS to grow amazingly.
Best known as the world’s most preferred ride-sharing app, Uber is also based on microservices. Previously Uber’s microservices-based solution couldn't have quick bug fixes, maintain global operations, and grow exponentially.
Microservices vs. Monolithic Architecture
Microservices are what the developer community used to fix the problems and shortcomings of the monolithic method of creating digital solutions.
Monolithic, in the modern times, is a troublemaker because of its nature of executing all the codes in one go. It features all the usable code snippets in one file. This means, testing, updating and troubleshooting the product is a big problem.
Also, any code vulnerability can have a deeper penetration into an application/software. It takes effort to figure out where the troublesome code has reached and which all functionalities or modules are affected.
To make things worse, monolithic architecture also demands detailed planning, and overheads, and consumes more time. Any anticipated update or scalability is only possible when the entire product’s structure is updated.
Opposite to the above, microservice architecture is here to make things better on every front. By promoting independent execution and decentralization, it helps you test or scale without worrying.
This micro-level development proffers tons of other benefits as well. A few are:
- It allows developers to complete the development at a faster pace as distinct teams or individuals can take care of different services/modules at a time.
- It increases the fault tolerance of the application. It would be easy for apps to contain the fault within a specific component. Its spread can be controlled effectively.
- Testing becomes easier due to the fact that testers or creators can now test only what’s impacted. Instead of testing the entire solution for a minor trouble, microservices permit testing of the concerned part, which is easy, quick, and smooth.
- As you can update/modify one component to any extent while making use of microservices, scaling is hassle-free.
For crafting Monolithic solutions, you will need Java, .NET, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, and Django skills. Docker, DevOps, Lambada, and Kubernetes make the foundation of microservice-oriented development.
With a monolithic method of app-building, it’s not suggested to use assorted languages. But, Microservices approach is not that stringent. In fact, it’s highly agile and flexible as multiple languages can be used.
The Use Cases
Monolithic aids greatly when you have to craft small applications. This isn’t an ideal scenario for microservices. Contrarily, building small solutions becomes tedious with this approach. Try it for large-scale and enterprise-level applications developments to relish over maximum outcomes.
SOA vs. Microservices
A Quick Overview
Services-oriented architecture is a globally-acceptable development paradigm that suggests using the reusable aspects of a software/application. The concerning application, developed using SOA, will feature distinctive codes and integrations. Each service aims to perform a distinct task.
SOA looks very similar to microservices, isn’t it? Well, the truth is that the latter can be called the updated version of SOAs.
Both are loosely coupled services, dedicated to performing particular tasks that use APIs and API gateways for interacting. However, this loose coupling is what makes reusability possible.
Reusing software components is both a boon and a bane, so it is not appreciated much in microservice-based development.
The problem is, reusability saves time & effort but can put many applications at risk.
Any operational failure in one resource will lead to issues in all apps that are using it. XML is an imperative part of SOA’s architecture. It’s mainly used in web services’ creation. The rise of SOA at the end of 1990 helped development experts fix the monolithic app development and integration issues.
With SOA, professionals can create application-specific services, enterprise-grade services, services for infrastructure-related solutions and functionality-oriented services.
How do they Differ?
- SOA is used for web services. Cloud-native products use microservices.
- SOA endorses reusability, while microservices do not promote it much.
- Microservices focus on creating independent components/modules, while SOA encourages cooperation.
- Data duplication is seen often in the case of SOA. Any data modification and alteration are possible by making changes to the basic code. Microservices use separate data.
- The assorted interaction mechanism for Microservices is distinguishable APIs, while and shareable ESB for SOA.
- Shared data storage is a trait of SOA-driven services, while microservices utilize dedicated databases for storage.
Basic Enabling Technologies And Tools
It’s true that microservices are highly customizable and help in adopting any technologies and tools. But, there still are some best scenarios. This is what we meant.
- API Gateways
They are pivotal resources for communication/interaction among services. By taking the help of an intermediary layer that helps in API communication by acting like a reverse proxy.
As a reverse proxy, API gateways aid greatly in request routing, dispersing requests across multiple applications, and proffering added authentication.
API management platforms are widely used for deploying API gateways. However, when k8s containers are used for microservices deployment, API gateway implementation takes the help of Ingress.
This technology adopts a few microservices and cloud patterns in the logical concluding aspect. The technology treats the executing unit as a function. The function can be a few code lines or a long code. However, serverless functions are smaller and often share great similarities with FaaS.
- Containers, Docker, and Kubernetes
Docker proposes a powerful computing model. It eases down the microservices orchestration with its offerings like Docker machine, Docker Composer, and Docker Swarm.
Docker machines permit running the common line from any cloud ecosystem. Docker Composer will enable you to manage the containers utilizing the same use cases.
Docker Swarm makes it easy to orchestrate microservices at a large scale. Containers are preferred as they reduce operational overhead and can be spun quickly.
Managing containers/services, taking care of their proliferation and ensuring hassle-free orchestration is not easy.
Though it is a huge obstacle for users, Kubernetes – a highly optimized container orchestration platform – can solve this problem.
Virtual machines, being bulk and slow, are not suitable for developing or hosting microservices-based products.
Microservices and DevOps
During a solution development process, both these terms are often used interchangeably. This is because they both refer to combining tasks and components. But, they both have significant differences.
DevOps brings different tasks of an application and system operation togethers so that it could simplify developers and operation teams’ work. But, microservices involve breaking down the huge application into multiple small components and completing the build process in bits and pieces.
DevOps brings different development aspects like budgeting, upgrades, operational tasks, and other capabilities together. Developers are allowed to manage software, networks, servers, hardware, and bases from a centralized place that speeds up the development.
DevOps team can easily handle the microservices architecture as it demands continual collaboration of the operational and development team.
The effective usage of microservices depends on the intelligent use of available patterns. There are a couple of them, and developers have to find out which one aligns the most with their development goals.
- BFF or Backend-for-frontend
One of the most commonly used patterns, BFF inserts a secure layer between user experience and concerning resources. The simplest example of this is different font sizes, display patterns, and other aspects for mobile-based apps and desktop-based apps.
BFF ensures that the backend elements are chosen in a way that the respective interface will be compatible with it so that the application has the best front-end operations.
- Entity and aggregate
This pattern is based on the fact that each entity is backed by a distinctive identity while aggregate represents the collection of entities that are used as a whole.
For instance, the Summer collection of a fashion store is an aggregate, and the clothing items in the collection are entities. This pattern is useful for the easy-to-understand classification of huge data.
- Service discovery
This pattern is used for easy microservices discovery. Microservices discovery is tough as services tend to modify, update, and scale over time.
Service discovery patterns offer a consistent and standard discovery approach that developers can use for quick microservices discovery. Load balancing already uses this pattern for failure detection.
- Adapter microservices
This type of microservice design patterns are used to make varying objects and classes compatible with each other. This works best when an application uses a wide range of 3rd party resources.
- Strangler application
A pattern that helps in controlling the rise of monolithic applications, the strangler application pattern is a great way to maintain the integrity of microservices.
The surged API usage, the upswing of monolithic applications, and complex deployment are some of the concerning aspects of microservices. They all increase the concern-worthy microservices security issues. If not tackled on time, these security alarms can go off at any time and cause hassles.
Have a look at key microservices security concerns:
- With distributed infrastructure, microservices will have more open networks and each open network is prone to a cybersecurity attack.
- App updates are not consistent. One service can be updated while the other can remain legacy. This has high-security breach possibilities.
- As a large number of ports and APIs are used for microservices, the attack surface is higher than ever. With a higher attack surface, you have a high risk.
- Developers will have less control over 3rd party tools & technologies that cause more security concerns.
- Every service demands a distinctive security approach that makes things too complex.
While these security concerns are damage-causing, it’s not easy to spot them. One concern can cause disturbance in one microservices and remain unnoticed for a longer period. This is why developers need an approach that can spot the stealth microservices' security issues instantly.
The use of security scanners, deploying internal networks like Docker, enforcing access control practices, and excluding the silos from communication channels are some of the most viable practices to fix the existing microservices security concerns.
What Is The Future of Microservices Architecture?
Gladly, there is a positive response from the developer community to this development approach. They prefer it because of its ease, flexibility, and scalability.
With increased cloud adoption, microservices are going to be more important as it makes cloud scalability a possible job. Cloud users can easily update or modify the cloud capabilities without dealing with many complexities.
However, they want a viable solution to fix the communication complexities. The effective use of API gateways solves many communication barriers. The future also holds more integration possibilities for microservices. Its effective and easy reuse is what we can witness in the near future.
At GitHub, multiple microservices sharing projects can be seen at present. Microservices as a Service is what the world will know this practice as. With reusability, microservices will have deeper penetration. All in all, the future of microservices seems bright.