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What Is Microservices Architecture?

Microservices are all the rage right now in the cloud-native app development arena and for good reasons. In an organization, the deployment of independent or self-contained services in a structured manner is called microservices architecture. In comparison to the traditional app development methodologies and frameworks, Microservices best practices are game-changing as it enables the development teams to work independently at a cloud-native scale.

Let’s explore more differences between monolithic and microservices architecture.

Monolithic Architecture vs Microservices Architecture

The most simple way to understand what microservices architecture is is to compare it with traditional monolithic architecture and understand how it differs.

Monolithic Architecture 

Traditional softwares is referred to as having monolithic architecture because all of the components in the software system are written in one executable program. There are three benefits of using this architecture for your software system:

  • Easy to build – There are tons of development tools available in the market that can help you with creating traditional monolithic apps.
  • Easy deployment – To your runtime, you can easily deploy a file or a directory.
  • Easily scalable – When you run a few copies behind some kind of load balancer, you can easily scale an application.

Microservices Architecture 

Microservices, as the name suggests, are small, self-contained services. There are many benefits of using such services as they are loosely coupled with each other, they can be developed with a small yet highly productive development team, are easily testable, deployed independently, and are highly maintainable. The microservices architecture includes the following types of services:

  • Client – Client-side services are of course for collecting all the requests for a build, search, and more from clients or users.
  • Identity Provider – After being received, the requests from clients are sent to an identity provider for processing. It is a type of service that is used to manage and authenticate digital identity information.
  • API Gateway – API is a kind of interpreter between two systems or services. In the microservices, the API gateway acts as an entry gate. It can accept all the client requests and then connect with the services that are required to fulfill those requests in the backend. At last, the API provides a suitable response.
  • Database – Every service in a microservices architecture has its database which is regularly updated using APIs.
  • Message Formatting – In terms of message formatting, there are two ways for services to communicate with each other:
  • First is synchronous messaging where the client has to wait for the response. It follows both HTTP and REST protocols.
  • The second form of messaging is asynchronous where clients don’t have to wait for an immediate response from the services. They follow protocols like MQTT, STOMP, and AMQP.
  • Static Content – after all the communication is over, teh static content is then sent to the cloud-based storage system. This system directly delivers the content to the client.
  • Management – To ensure that everything is running smoothly and to monitor the system and services or any kind of identity failure, microservices architecture uses a management element.
  • Service Discovery – It is a tool used to locate services and devices on specific networks for both server-side and client-side services.

Although the seemingly monolithic or traditional software system has more benefits than microservices, the latter is slowly gaining popularity in cloud-native environments. The reasons for it are the benefits of using a microservices architecture.

Benefits of a Microservices Architecture

Flexibility 

Different kinds of programming languages can be used to write different services as each one is independent. Although it is considered to bring all microservices under one modern programming language.

Faster deployment 

Easy to understand and faster to deploy, it seems that microservices know what developers want, and test why they are so developer friendly. If you change one little thing in a code base of traditional monolithic software, then it can have tremendous effects on the entire codebase. Meanwhile, every service in microservices is deployed independently so making changes in one service won’t affect another.

Scalability 

When everything is running on a single codebase, it would be hard to manage when the app needs to grow on a massive scale. However, if you are using microservices, then your team will be able to easily work on an individual service that needs modification and then redeploy it without any hassle. In the case of a microservices architecture, the app can be scaled as per requirement.

Isolated failures 

In monolithic software, a failure in one service can compromise the functioning of an entire app. On the other hand, the microservices have every component isolated so even if a service faces any issues or fails then also it won’t affect the functioning of the rest of the app. Although if that particular service is interconnected then it might degrade the working of the app, but the app will still work.

Challenges 

As with the benefits, using microservices architecture can bring its own set of challenges too.

Increased complexity and dependency issues 

Although microservices have independent services that doesn’t mean they don’t interact, there is a lot of interaction between the independent services as well as the number of users are also increased with each using different services for different purposes. This also leads to a variety of user behavior.

All of these make it difficult to trace individual traffic from frontend to backend which can further cause dependency issues among services. It won’t be an easy task to manage the compatibility and other effects when your services are independent and come with varied versions and workloads.

Testing 

Because every service in microservices varies at many levels, it would be difficult to implement the same testing regime across the entire application. Although flexibility is an important advantage of microservices, during a distributed deployment, teh same diversity makes it tough to observe consistently.

Managing communication systems 

Although the services can communicate with each other on their own, the architecture in which they communicate needs to be handled by developers. API gateway which we discussed earlier in this blog, is responsible for effective communication between services in a microservices architecture. They are reliable and very helpful but they too can fail sometimes which can cause some bottleneck communication and dependency issues.

Observability 

Observing the microservices can be challenging. I mean how many services can you monitor at the same time? So, it is recommended that you employ a monitoring tool or platform to help you with the observation, and troubleshooting of the entire microservices architecture.

Why would you need Microservices Architecture? 

To know whether you need to work with a microservices architecture, you need to answer some questions.

Which environment do you need for development?  

If you want the full advantage of using a cloud-native environment then you have to work with a microservices architecture. Because most of the cloud native architectures are built specifically to work with microservices nowadays. When an app is moved to cloud-based settings, the development process will automatically favor microservices until and unless you change the environment.

What kind of team do you need and how do they work?  

When you are using a microservices architecture, you make things work even if you have a small development team. But they would need to identify, monitor and execute all the activities across each component of the architecture. This will also include determining which component can interact with another and how. They must also determine the reusable services so they don’t have to start from scratch every time they create a new service.

Does your app need constant updates and modifications?  

If you are working on a system or application that is going to need constant changes or modification in the future then microservices is the best option for you. Unlike monolithic systems, microservices architecture consists of individual services which are easily modified.

Number of services you need in your software application?  

If you want to build an app that consists of a large number of services and microservices is the way to go. Including all services and asking them to work well under a monolithic architecture is a lot to ask. And that would be very complicated too.

Also, if you don’t have many services in your app right now but are planning to scale it up in the future by adding more to it then also you should opt for microservices. Because monolithic softwares is not scalable.

Final words  

If you are using a cloud-based environment for development and have a large amount of services to add to your application then you should choose microservices architecture to work with. However, keep in mind that along with benefits, you would also have to face the challenges we discussed here. But you can overcome them easily by opting to use suitable tools like monitoring platforms to solve the observability issue.

Remember that, you have to opt for the architecture that fits well with your project requirements and not just because it is trending currently. Although, if your project demands you to work with microservices then don’t forget to take full advantage of the architecture.

About the author:  

Mohit Savaliya 

Mohit is working in a software development company called TatvaSoft. Mohit has a strong technical background. He is a a full-time tech enthusiast and blogger with a passion for exploring the latest technology trends and their potential to drive profitable businesses. With a strong interest in futuristic technologies, he loves to dive deep into the world of emerging tech and share his knowledge with others.

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