Microservices: To implement or not to implement? That is the question.

June 25, 2019

In a world where digital transformation is the top priority, microservices have emerged as a fundamental shift in how companies approach technology applications. Microservices, an architectural composition wherein a variety of small, autonomous services form a larger application, differ entirely from its monolith predecessor.

While both microservice and monolithic architectures have their own benefits, we’re seeing the trend towards microservices increase. Companies like Uber, Walmart, Netflix, and Amazon are adopting microservices frameworks to create operational efficiencies and reduce risk while continuing to evolve.

But why?
What are the benefits?
And how can organizations adopt microservices architectures?

Why microservices? The business drivers.
To talk about microservices versus monolithic applications simplistically, microservices offer much more flexibility. For some businesses, microservices are a better way to manage large applications, due to increased modularity and the ability to create, deploy and maintain applications in a scalable way. As a result, business agility increases, allowing an organization to dynamically respond to the market faster.

This is important because microservices are powering enterprise speed and innovation – both of which are key in differentiation. If you look at the way the world used to work with monolithic applications, every organization receives the same accelerator. But delivering an out-of-the-box application is not a long-term scalable solution for outpacing customer needs anymore. Brands must differentiate and anticipate needs; without having to maintain a full-stack software as you do with monoliths, microservices allow new user experiences and interfaces to be implemented modularly and rapidly.

From a developer standpoint, microservices offer tons of benefits. Some include:

  • It’s easier to experiment, deploy and scale on a microservices framework. The decoupled environment allows frontend changes without modifications to the backend.
  • Modifications are not risky because the decoupled environment means experiments are not dependent on frontend and backend code.
  • A/B testing is more straightforward and focused on specific components of the platform.

Bottom line: microservices are more conducive to a continuous innovation delivery model, meaning code can be quickly and continuously developed and deployed. The product is constantly iterated upon and enhanced, keeping the business ahead of its competition.

Implementation vs. Migration
When businesses choose to adopt a microservices framework, their current technology set up and stack will determine whether they implement the architecture from ground zero, or migrate a monolithic application to a microservices architecture. In both instances, there is a seamless approach.

Implementation can be simply broken out into four stages:

A digital advisory will work with the organization to confirm the business need and understand why the microservices architecture is the best framework for deployment.

Next, the advisory will scope the project, and create an alignment between the organization objectives and delivery team to outline what should be delivered. Sprint metrics will be defined to quantify the project.

Businesses are then required to align the microservices with business capabilities.

Develop, Deploy
The solution pattern and deploy approach will be established and delivered (ex: Docker Containers).

Migration is straightforward too, as the whole monolith doesn’t have to be transitioned at once. Migrating to microservices can be done iteratively. A common migration strategy is the Strangler Pattern, which breaks down the monolith in stages, decouples components, and introduces the microservice as a replacement to that corresponding piece of the legacy system. This approach reduces risk because everything happens in incremental stages until everything is deemed fully evolved and stable.

Advice: Assess your digital roadmap.
Microservices can be a great solution – but it also requires careful consideration. Depending on the size of your company, the complexity of your systems, and the current technology your organization uses, microservices may or may not work for the business. When deciding if a monolith or microservices architecture will serve the organization best, a digital advisory can provide guidance. By plotting a digital roadmap, these advisories can unbiasedly identify what solutions are best, and help execute. Should implementing or migrating onto a microservices architecture suit business needs and long-term objectives best, a digital advisory can facilitate this process.

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