At first, most business software systems work great by accelerating tasks and improving operational organization. However, as a company evolves and grows, many software systems begin to show their limitations. For example, any meaningful modification, upgrade, or new application integration may involve complex programming with lots of code to untangle.
If you have more than one monolithic system like this, you also run into data silo issues. A silo is a single, walled-off storehouse of information and processes. Silos inhibit the unification and streamlining of business functions, and managing too many silos leads to wasted time and resources.
Implementing microservices architecture is one way companies deal with these issues. Microservices improve development productivity, speed, and flexibility. Also, they enable solutions to emphasize business capabilities with more freedom from technological constraints.
The Shift From Monolithic to Microservices
Monolithic software is self-contained with interconnected and interdependent components. To make any changes or updates, the entire stack needs to be rebuilt and re-deployed. The same problem occurs if you want to scale your solution. Bottom line: lots of time and money spent.
Monolithic software was successful and had its time and place. However, the monolithic approach has become costly because so many systems are now converging into fully integrated ecosystems. With increasing dynamics and complexity, the singular business case/solution supported by a monolithic build is becoming less the answer.
In response to these obstacles, companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Etsy pivoted to microservices architecture. The global microservices architecture market size was valued at $2.073 million in 2018, and is projected to reach $8.073 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of 18.6% from 2019 to 2026.
What is Microservices Architecture?
With microservices, an application can be divided into discrete standalone services that can be built, deployed, scaled, and maintained independently. So if you need to build out or scale a specific feature, you can do this with little to no disruption to the rest of your stack.
Microservices architecture provides the following developer benefits:
- Less complexity - Developers can work in small, focused teams dedicated to solve specific problems.
- Reduced iterative risk - Features are deployed independently. No need to rebuild and reboot the entire application.
- Easy maintenance - Enables incremental upgrades for one or more services at a time rather than having to revamp the entire application at once.
- Multilingual - Can build services in any language (code agnostic) and permits separate data models for any given service.
- Automation - Automatically deploy individual service deployments, service management, and autoscaling.
What are the Business Benefits of Microservices?
You may have intuitively spotted the business advantages of microservices, but let’s spell it out:
- Responsiveness - For new customer needs, you can respond faster to meet the need.
- Multitasking - By using Agile and DevOps principles, software teams can run parallel projects and iterate quickly on discrete capabilities to get to market faster.
- Reliability - If one service fails, it can be remedied quickly without shutting down the entire system.
- Scalability - Whatever needs more room to breathe, you can build that service out quickly to meet demand.
Microservice architecture lets teams build business functionality instead of wrangling with glue code. This means resources focus on business capabilities instead of technologies. Plus, the same service can be reused in more than one business process or channel.
How Amazon, Netflix & Etsy Made the Microservices Move
In the early 2000s, Amazon depended on massive, monolithic architecture which made upgrading and scaling increasingly complex.
Amazon AWS senior manager for product management Rob Brigham, said, “A lot of startups, and even projects inside of big companies, start out this way. They take a monolith-first approach, because it’s very quick, to get moving quickly. But over time, as that project matures, as you add more developers on it, as it grows and the code base gets larger and the architecture gets more complex, that monolith is going to add overhead into your process, and that software development lifecycle is going to begin to slow down.”
To address these concerns, Amazon developers analyzed source code and identified units of code that served a single, functional purpose. Then they packaged these units in a web service interface to which a team of developers were assigned ownership for each service. This made it easier to work out any bugs as efforts could focus on a single problem. Next, each function was adhered to the larger ecosystem with APIs. The end result was a highly decoupled architecture where development occurs faster and in an independent manner.
In August of 2008, Netflix experienced a major database corruption and could not ship DVDs to customers for three days. That’s when the company knew it had to move away from vertically scaled single points of failure, towards more reliable, horizontal, distributed systems in the cloud.
From there, Netflix began refactoring its monolithic architecture, service by service, into microservices. First they migrated the non-customer-facing, movie-coding platform to run on Amazon AWS cloud servers. Then they converted the customer-facing systems to microservices, finalizing the process in 2012.
After robust growth, the ecommerce platform Etsy began to experience problems due to poor server processing time and slow sequential execution. The brand decided that concurrent transactions would improve processing times. Plus, developers wanted to boost the platform’s extensibility for Etsy’s new mobile app features.
Etsy implemented a two-layer API with meta-endpoints. Each of the meta-endpoints aggregated additional endpoints. According to InfoQ, this strategy enabled “server-side composition of low-level, general-purpose resources into device- or view-specific resources.”
Etsy went live with their new microservice architectural style in 2016. Now the enterprise benefits from a structure that supports innovative flow, concurrent processing, faster upgrades, and easy scaling.
When might microservices help?
Mergers and recent acquisitions immediately come to mind, that is, when you have to mesh together previously disparate systems. Or perhaps your enterprise is mature, but the systems were put in place long ago and suffer from the silo effect.
If you have to rewrite legacy applications for modern tech stacks to make backend data available for current business requirements, cloud environments, and device diversity… then microservices might be your best bet.
Cut to the Chase
Today, developers have learned from what previous innovators accomplished with the move to microservices architecture. Now, the transition is easier as many techniques and strategies have already been mapped out. Microservices may not be for every business, however, if the architecture fits, the best results will be realized with early deployment.
At Xerris, we carry extensive microservice experience. From initial builds to enterprise level integration and transformation, you can outsource it to us. Or we can mesh quickly with your existing team. Level up to higher versatility, greater reach, and the ability to pivot faster to success with microservices architecture.