Today’s enterprises are undergoing digital transformation by adopting a variety of technologies. IoT, smart devices, analytics, mobility and even social media are helping companies change their customer relationships, internal processes and value propositions. Microservices can accelerate this transformation, but implementing the right architecture may seem challenging. Fortunately, these potential barriers can be overcome by adopting several best practices.
Many companies have key business functionalities fulfilled by a single, large “monolithic” application, for example a CRM. By having functionality encapsulated in one application, the company’s architecture is unable to provide the agility or scalability required to achieve digital transformation.
In contrast, a Microservices architecture uses granular, distributed services with well-defined APIs based on domain-driven design. This structure promises improved agility, scalability, reliability and a reduced time to market. Companies that use Microservices as a building block for their distributed enterprise systems can augment and aggregate existing functionality as a service, thus opening opportunities for new business models and revenue.
Companies have leveraged Microservices to drive many different types of business transformation:
- Development for cloud-based systems can be accelerated with microservices when enterprises decide to move from traditional monolithic/Service Oriented architecture to cloud-based applications.
- Microservices have helped companies develop highly distributed systems
- Enterprises often choose Microservices, if their primary business involves an extremely high volume of transactions
- Microservices can help ensure a high level of availability for core functions
- Solutions that require integrating business capabilities from disparate systems and programming models can be aided by a Microservices approach
- Microservices have helped companies align business and IT functionality, improve business and technology agility, and enable incremental (agile) development and continuous software deployment
An Approach to Microservices Adoption
Adopting and building Microservices is not an easy task, as deploying the necessary architecture requires an enterprise to undergo changes across various areas. The four primary areas of change include Organizational Culture, technology, Operations and Governance.
Best Practices for Designing Microservices
Once the foundation platform is ready, companies must analyze the monolith applications, breaking big functionalities into smaller functionalities and identifying areas where Microservices can take their place. The company can then slowly decommission monolith applications while building new Microservices in iteration.
Domain Driven Design is very important in Microservice design, bounded context principle which originated from Domain Driven Design need to be followed. Domain driven design is an architectural principle in-line with object-oriented approach. It considers the business domain, elements and behaviors and interactions between business domains.
Designing and adopting Microservices requires a foundational platform that encompasses DevOps, monitoring, integration, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) elements and governance. Organizations need to work and build these areas to onboard Microservices, analyzing and implementing applications using the iterative methods.
We should execute Proof of Concepts to evaluate various technologies and zero in on the right one based on fitment to derive the appropriate reference architectures to fit the requirement. End to end dev ops implementation coupled with choosing the right design for the microservices and right lifecycle management tools helps in faster release cycles.
The main challenge to develop microservices is to split a large, complex application into small, autonomous, and independently deployable modules. If microservices are not split in the right way, they will be so tightly coupled that they retain all the disadvantages of a monolith architecture while having all the complexities of a distributed system. It is important to ensure the right granularity of services. Service access should also be based on these requirements.
In the early days of microservices, the integration layer was only exposed through the API layer. Now, all applications are exposed through the API layer. Having an API-first approach provides a common contract from the start for different development teams. This enables parallel development while the API is being built, and it decouples the API from its implementation. Automating API import and documentation can further promote development speed.
API governance is key to successful adoption and roll out of APIs and help is re-use, automation, devops, monitoring and continuous improvement/upgrade. It can be broadly categorized into three buckets: Planning, Design and Runtime Governance. Planning Governance would include aspects like tools, usage, security, life cycle. Design Governance would include aspects like Mocking, Policy Design while Runtime Governance would include aspects like API Policy Management, Monitoring.
A micro frontend is a composition of features which is owned by independent teams. Leveraging Micro Frontends helps in compose a UI application from smaller domain specific self-contained independent front ends.
One of the main concerns organizations have about a microservice architecture is that software development becomes simple at the expense of operations. It can be easier to monitor a monolith platform because there is only one application to monitor. When many microservices run on containers, observability of the entire system can seem complicated. Deploying a good monitoring solution in addition to good governance can ease this burden considerably. A good governance process should also be incorporated to manage service-level agreements across the microservice ecosystem.
Conclusion: Organizations must chalk-out a clearly defined foundation and design strategy for their microservice adoption. By following the best practices above, companies will be well on their way toward realizing the many benefits microservices can offer and achieving their vision of digital transformation.