When was the last time you played Jenga? Can you recall that tension, which increases with each block being moved away?
After all, it’s just a fun game, so you’re rather excited than stressed out. But what if Jenga isn’t a set of wooden blocks, but your digital product? Interfering with a software’s architecture is unfortunately not the same as playing Jenga. The other difference (this time a pleasant one) is that you can cheat on a digital solution’s structure by using microservices architecture, or microservices. And it’s totally legal!
Anyway, why are microservices something you need to really care about? In this blog post, the JatApp team will explain to you what microservices architecture is and how it can benefit your digital project.
Bricks in the wall or the definition of microservices
To avoid a long introduction here, let’s define microservices architecture straight away. According to Google, microservices architecture is a type of application architecture where the application is developed as a collection of services. It provides the framework to develop, deploy, and maintain microservices architecture diagrams and services independently.
In such a way, every single service is developed as an independent block that connects to other services. Since blocks don’t overlap, it’s much easier to develop each service or detect an error. Moreover, when one service falters, the rest of the system keeps working. It means that you can build up your solution “brick by brick”, thereby ensuring endless opportunities for scaling your business at the same time.
Therefore, decentralization is the main characteristic of microservices architecture. If we compare microservices vs monolithic architecture, you can see that microservices are independent from each other, and you won’t need to refactor the entire solution when you intend to update or scale it.
Decentralized nature of microservices structure enables you to orient your business at a continuous growth with spending much less resources. Each service is tied up with a relatable business operation, while absence of any dependencies means that each of these operations can run autonomously and with greater efficiency.
Micro doesn’t mean fewer benefits…
You may already see that characteristics of microservices architecture in software development are what you need for your software development project, but a “So what?” question can pop up. It’s natural that you want to know about the exact benefits of microservices architecture you can bring to your stakeholders. In fact, there are myriads of advantages, so let’s focus on the most prominent ones and those we can guarantee you’ll surely have in your pocket:
- Simple deployment. Microservices are perfect for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline. You can easily try out new approaches and roll back if some service doesn’t work properly. Since the price of failure is way too low, it means that your software developers can engage in creative experiments to build you a state-of-the-art product. Additionally, you’ll be able to easily integrate your software with any third-party solutions.
- Easy to understand. Microservices architecture is very easy to understand owing to containerization. Containers are packages of software that include all components important for running in any environment. Containers emulate the operating system and can be used anywhere from a private data center or just a personal laptop. Thus, when every single service is packed into its own container, it’s really easy to understand the structure of your software. You see separate blocks with services connected to each other via HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and other protocols.
- Reusability. As long as services live in their small boxes separately from each other, you can use some parts of the code many times without a concern that too much copypasting will play havoc with your digital solution.
- Fast fault isolation. Again, storing services in autonomous containers enables development teams to detect any defects and isolate that microservice from the rest of the system, thereby speeding up the process of quality assurance and code review.
- Freedom for independent development. As each microservice is autonomous, it means that several microservices can be developed at the same time to reduce the time-to-market. For instance, the owners of Cunio, property management platform, reached out to JatApp with a request to assist them in scaling their solution. The client’s in-house team focused on developing new features, while JatApp worked on code review and the platform’s back end. Since microservices architecture was used, two teams were working simultaneously, but without interfering with each other’s areas of responsibility. As a result, the new features were rolled out fast enough, while the entire product quality was significantly improved.
Notifications microservice in Cunio
- Use of different programming languages is possible (but not always). If each service can be developed individually, it means that teams with different tech stacks can participate in the project. In other words, you don’t have to stick to a particular programming language to build your solution, and you have more chances to handpick the brightest minds. On the other hand, many technicians tend to say that mixing up programming languages is a cake that’s not worth the candle, as nobody can predict how different technology stacks will behave when they meet one another under the hood of one application.
…but some drawbacks are also here
Nothing is perfect in this world (only pizza), and microservices are no exception as they have their own fly in the ointment:
- Lack of management. When every service is developed independently, it’s really hard to get all the building blocks together in terms of teams, business strategic planning, and so on. You have to be able to see the whole picture of your solution, which, in case of microservices, can be a heavy lift.
- Data traffic overloads are possible. As you’ve learned, blocks with microservices are connected to each other with different protocols like HTTP. Consequently, much data pumps back and forth within the software system. Such “traffic jams” can cause a need for extra server capacity or additional customer support jobs to be done.
- Data consistency is hard to manage. Again, every block has its own database. The entire application can have data in different formats that are difficult to manage and secure together. You’ll have to make extra effort to get all your data sets in order.
- DevOps practices should be at the top level all the time. We mentioned that microservices are good for CI/CD pipeline, but if you have an immature DevOps culture in your team, you’re likely to face many challenges. To say the least, your deployment process won’t keep up with coding, and your project will have many downtime events and features hanging in the project’s backlog.
- Effort duplication is possible. If you don’t coordinate communication amongst teams well enough, they can develop the same service or a big chunk of code twice. Under such circumstances, the best efforts of your top talents may turn out to be a monkey job, while your project loses time and money.
There are no rules, only best practices
Microservices have been in the spotlight for less than a decade, but there are still no standards and rules that can guide you how you should develop software with this architecture. However, you can follow a handful of best practices that will surely advance your project:
- Build services around business. Since microservices architecture is meant to bolster up business capabilities, it’s logical to focus on services that relate or actually represent operations that your business will run to earn money and create value to customers. Otherwise, all your efforts will just go in the tank.
- Decentralize everything. Here we mean that you’d better give each team independence in what they’re doing for building a particular service. Your teams don’t have to follow some “greater good” priority of the product. Just let your teams focus on their tasks only, and you’ll only profit from such an approach.
Decentralized data management in microservices architecture
- Take extra care of data storage and security. Each microservice has its own database, which is why managing all storages and their security should become one of your primary concerns. Make sure that all data containers are safe and sound enough not to backfire with data leaks after the product’s release.
- Avoid extra dependencies. If we highlight the importance of decentralization for microservices, we also need to say that different blocks shouldn’t depend on each other either. Sometimes, linking one service to another can be a breeze, but remember that nothing is protected from a failure. You’ll simply have to deal with much greater problems afterwards. That is why we recommend you to avoid unnecessary dependencies amongst services regardless of short-term benefits and conveniences they can bring.
- Deploy connected blocks together. Still, if you have some microservices that are connected to each other, it’s reasonable to deploy them together. Even though you have plenty of time with continuous development, it doesn’t make any sense to deploy just a piece of a feature that won’t work properly without other microservices.
- Track and isolate any failures. You have your solution conveniently decomposed into individual services, which means that you have an easy way to reveal any defects. As soon as you find one, just isolate this service until you fix it. You’ll always be able to roll this feature out with the next update. Your customers need a quality product in the first place, and microservices architecture is made for isolating bad parts and releasing what you have without compromising the build’s quality. Why don’t you accept such a gift and release your product hassle-free?
Experience still matters
Unlike Jenga game, microservices development does not follow any rules which actually makes the whole process challenging. For that reason, experience in building microservices can be vital to your project.
JatApp offers its professional help with nailing microservices architecture for your digital product. Our company has 7 years of experience in software development, which is why we can propose the best way to structure your solution and develop it according to the business goals.
Don’t hesitate to contact us and share your project idea. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.