The view of a web application is the part that we see and interact with. The HTML view of a web application is populated by code residing inside the server-side application, which also takes care of HTTP requests, business logic, and database manipulation. A server-side application in a typical enterprise setting tends to be monolithic in nature.
On the surface, a monolithic server isn’t much of an issue. When you’re building an application, monolithic architecture seems like the most natural way to go. You have all your logics in one place and it’s divided into various classes, functions, and namespaces. Moreover, you can horizontally scale your monolithic application by running its multiple instances behind a load-balancer.
Lately, monolithic applications are losing their oomph to more modular architectures of application building. Since a monolithic application is one giant block of code, introducing a minor change to the codebase means the entire application has to be rebuilt and redeployed. When you’re a cloud-first organization pushing tens of builds every day on your DevOps pipeline, the monolithic architecture is impractical.
What is microservice architecture?
Microservices are a modular architecture of application building. In the architecture, each application consists of a number of modules. Each module in the microservice architecture can function as a small, autonomous service and may represent a single business capability. Each autonomous service is independently deployable and scalable and has established module boundary. So much so that modules written in different languages can be coupled together to feature the entire service stack. In an enterprise setting, you may assign smaller teams of developers to each service or module.
Microservice architecture has various benefits which’ll make it more relevant as cloud adoption grows. Here are the top five reasons why you should switch your application stack to microservice architecture.
Focus on business capabilities
In a monolithic setting, large applications are still split into parts, often in line with the management’s priorities. Tech-startups would often center their efforts on the technology layer, following along UI teams, server-side logic teams, and database teams.
When teams are separated along these shallow lines, changes are harder to introduce, cross-team projects take more time, and budgetary approvals become a constant source of cross-team conflicts.
In a microservice approach, the focus is around business capabilities. A broad-stack implementation of software services according to business capabilities means the teams are cross-functional and competent in their respective fields such as user-experience, database, and project management.
Products over Projects
In the project model, the objective is to deliver a project after it is ‘marked’ completed. The completed project is then transferred to the software publisher and the project team is disbanded.
Microservice proponents bypass this flawed model by sticking to the notion that the team that builds a product should also be responsible for it over its lifetime. The team should keep a close tab on how the software works in production. It may work with support teams on peculiar tickets or directly talk to the end-users if required. They may not be primarily responsible for the product post-production but will have a fair share of responsibility.
The approach “Products over Projects” is unlikely to work in a monolithic application environment. In microservice architecture, granularity of services fortifies interpersonal relationships between service developers and their users.
Decentralized project scope
Centralized project teams building monolithic applications tend to rely on a singular technology stack for app development. A unified development approach has certain downsides to it because the stack limits the available tools. While monolithic applications can employ multiple stacks, the practice is less common.
In microservice architecture, you have a choice of building each component on a different stack. You may have Node.js running your simple reporting system page and C++ handling the real-time component. You may also swap between different databases that better suit the components’ requirements.
Decentralized applications are natural selection in our quest to achieve unparalleled modularity.
A minor failure in a monolithic application may cause every instance of the application to malfunction. Since the application is essentially a single block of code with little isolation of logic, detecting the issue, fixing the anomalies, and bringing the application back online may take forever.
As the services are tightly coupled, the concerned team has to consult every other team with overlapping responsibilities so that they can get to the bottom of the issue and fix it.
In microservice architecture, every service is actually a component of the application. If a service malfunctions, the loosely coupled application will work just fine except for the functionality that the failed, independent service was providing. Fixing that service is also a lot simpler because there’s a dedicated team that has a separate codebase for the component. In ideal conditions, most application users won’t even notice that service was down.
Modern web applications carry too many functions, and users expect these functions to improve over time. Upgradeability is something we take for granted in the case of modern web applications but is a topic of major concern to their primary stakeholders.
The concerns only grow stronger if your application was developed as a monolithic application. An upgrade to the analytics engine might break the application. You might have to insist on systemwide upgrades every time you wish to add a new functionality. If you follow a shorter upgrade lifecycle like the rest of the industry, then this limitation is a big hassle.
In microservice architecture, each component can be individually upgraded by the respective teams without requiring input from the other teams. You can have special version releases to upgrade mere analytics engine or just API engine, not to the entire system or application.
Are microservices the future?
Industry pundits anticipate that almost every application will soon be developed using microservice architecture. The rise of software-as-a-service (SaaS) as the default way to access online services has made microservice adoption among enterprises increase.
Enterprises continue to embrace the cloud and realize the flexibility that microservices bring to traditional technology stacks. In the near future, microservice architecture will minimize application downtime, facilitate optimal utilization of resources, and lower infrastructure costs.
Rare Crew assists organizations moving their stack of monolithic applications to the microservice architecture. As a leading IT consulting and outsourcing firm, Rare Crew insists on fail-safe, secure, and modular architecture for application development.