Microservices: Changing App Development

Microservices: Changing App Development

August 17, 2021

Every now and then we hear that big companies are migrating their monolithic platforms to microservices. Why are they doing this if the current method “works”? This is what we are aiming to answer by learning about what microservices are, what their benefits are and why is not everyone switching to them.

What is a Мicroservice?

Basically, the microservice architecture is a style that structures a platform as a collection of services, which helps to build complicated software applications. Each service focuses on different business functionalities and can be independently deployed, tweaked and tested, without ruining the application integrity as a whole. This is beneficial both for the end-user and the developer as the feedback the user presents can be rapidly changed and re-deployed without ruining or delaying the whole application.

What Benefits Does it Offer?

Although many companies usually switch to “whatever is trending”, the case here is different. This approach of breaking down an app into different components has a number of benefits:

–         Simple and straightforward – understanding how each service works is relatively simple as the microservices are smaller and usually free of complexity, which makes the overall maintenance and change implementation easier.

–         Small and lightweight – due to the small capacity of the code of a single service, most IDEs are generally faster and developers are more eager to work with such architecture.

–         Independence and fault isolation – because each microservice works independently from others in a specific project, it is easier not only for testing but also for revisioning an issue – when a new version is deployed and something does not work, you would know where to look at immediately.

–         Organizing teams – due to the fact that every complex application can be split into several microservices, makes the possibility of adding different teams to work on the same project but on different microservices. Ultimately, this boosts productivity and delivers the demanded requirements even faster.

–         Deployment – because of facilitating CI (continuous integration) and CD (continuous delivery), it is even easier to experiment with new features and rollback to a previously working version if anything goes wrong.

Does it Have any Challenges?

By looking at the benefits, we can safely say that using microservices is the way to go, right? Not really, even in our digital era, technologies inevitably come with certain downsides. Here are some compromises you’ll have to make with microservices:

–         Latency – more microservices may require more communication channels which would increase the weight of the network layer.

–         Memory consumption – all services should be isolated from each other, which means that if each service runs in its own virtual machine, then there would be a big overhead.

–         Third-party – if you are dependent on a third-party microservice and it changes its API endpoints, it could break the entire application and tracking the “how” and “why” would be difficult.

–         Vulnerability – because every microservice is isolated, it could use a different amount of languages and technologies, which could be a potential vulnerability because not all actions regarding those systems are secured.

–         Higher complexity – the developers must always create the link between the different microservices, which adds complexity, especially when it requires dealing with the partial failure as well. Not only is implementing difficult but also testing is a far cry from easy task.

What Does it Change?

We kept saying – “it is faster” or “it is easier to understand” but had not pointed out what we were comparing it to. Until now, the “traditional method” has always been “the monolithic approach”, where everything is at one place and runs together. It contains all the code for all the activities that the application is supposed to perform. Those monoliths are usually way harder to update or maintain as they take much longer time and are typically more expensive. In contrast to the microservices, adding a new feature is as painful as having few teams working on the same monolith – they often run into concurrency, which decreases their productivity and reduces the whole outcome of the project.

So, why change something that already works, you would ask?  Simple – people have been trying to utilize more and more of their productivity and by having this flexibility approach with the microservices, many companies, according to a study, have seen enormous improvements.

In The End, Is It Better?

The microservices approach would definitely be the mass approach sooner or later as the business is currently shifting in this direction. Does that mean that is better? It depends – mostly on non-technical qualities that should be carefully planned. Every microservice architecture should be strategically discussed and thoroughly monitored. Although at first, it would be difficult for companies to implement such a pattern, it would definitely be beneficial in the long term. And again, decision-makers and business executives should carefully plan upcoming software architecture changes. Despite all the flexibility and process speed they come with, microservices might raise some security concerns if not properly designed and maintained. That’s why finding the right technical partners for the development of your next custom software solution is so crucial.

Martin Tsenov

Middle Software Engineer at Dreamix

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