Microservices: Four Reasons Why Less Is More

December 3, 2018

When enterprises implemented ecommerce platforms in the early 2000s, the monolith architecture delivered. It was one unified application, the most essential features and functionalities were pre-packaged, and requirements were easy to meet.

Over time, customer and market demands became more complex and delivery expectations turned urgent. Monolithic architectures took on new features and functionalities to meet changing needs, but in doing so, became slower.

The problem is that speed and flexibility are competitive differentiators for enterprises. And, with the business driver behind this being customer and experience-led commerce, organizations are seeking more flexible software infrastructures – like microservices – so that they can iterate faster.

Unlike monolith architectures, microservices are small services that are individually developed and deployed. Communicating via APIs, microservices reduce software complexity, scale vertically, and increase flexibility, speed, and resiliency.

This turn toward microservices is enabling enterprise agility. Customer demands can be met in days versus weeks or months, which ultimately better positions enterprises against competitors, Amazon, and upstarts.

Let’s take a look at the other benefits that microservices architectures present:

Faster go-to-market time for organizations

When talking about microservices, I always like to use the analogy of building a new home.

Imagine you and your family are building a brand new home that you plan to move into. In the meantime, you are all living in a hotel, which is obviously quite costly. You want to move in ASAP versus waiting for the entire home to be built. So, you prioritize the rooms that you need most, ensuring the core components are available first: kitchen, bathroom, and two of the bedrooms. Once ready, you can move into the home, stop spending money on the hotel, and continue building the other rooms in the house sequentially.

This is how businesses deploy commerce platforms on a microservices architecture. Instead of waiting for the entire platform to be ready for implementation, microservices architectures enable the fastest go-to-market time, as businesses can launch core components in sequence versus all at once. This not only makes for quick implementations, but it also allows businesses to upgrade individual features and functionalities à la carte.

Better and clearer code

Monolith platforms operate on a tightly coupled frontend and backend. Any personalization or customization request involves editing the database, code, and front-end platform, which is extremely time-intensive. Moreover, developers must be mindful that customization changes do not infringe on future upgrades.

With microservices, development experiments are not dependent on modifications to both the frontend and backend code and therefore less risky. This gives developers more experimental freedom to try new development methodologies and easily conduct A/B testing.

For example, perhaps a developer would like to implement a Progressive Web App (PWA). PWAs are not a new framework, but a set of practices that delivers a mobile app-like experience to users via the web; essentially users can install an application from a browser to their phone, which will work offline just like an app. This type of experiment can be easily run and tested via microservices architecture since the backend is not required.

Pay for what you actually use and use what you actually need

Because microservices are a componentized architecture, businesses can select and customize the features and functionalities that they truly require from their commerce platform. Moreover, microservices offer the option to either use the platform’s entire set of features or deploy individual services, one at a time.

Instead of implementing a feature-rich platform that won’t fully be utilized, microservices architectures offer the flexibility to purchase, implement and use the functionalities and features you truly need. This makes for significant cost-savings and quicker time to market with implementation and updates.

Continuous innovation is expedited

Market demands are constantly changing, and it’s not enough for the technology to be capable – it must be available immediately.

One way to stay ahead is by adopting a continuous innovation delivery model. Essentially, this method of development delivers an MVP quickly, based on crucial customer needs. From there, the business continuously iterates and improves upon the MVP leveraging user behavior insights and prioritizing market demands. This is one of the most efficient delivery methodologies.

Pairing this type of delivery with a microservices architecture enables quick innovation. Because microservices allow a business to address individual components of the commerce platform at any time, innovation happens at a more rapid pace as microservices fuel flexibility.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of microservices architectures? Download our latest whitepaper From Monolith to Microservices: How enterprises are boosting their speed and flexibility by shifting commerce architectures.

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