Microservices are surely an important software trend of today and have profound implications on the digital transformation of entire organizations. The shift is happening because the monolithic applications are not able to meet the requirements placed by the fast-paced demands of the business landscape. However, a shift to microservices is impossible without clearly understanding what microservices are and what they are not.
Let us now examine the factors that simply do not make a microservices architecture.
We talk of a monolithic application when all the functionalities of a project exist in one codebase. Conventionally for solving a problem, the approach was to design the application in different layers such as a presentation layer, service and persistence which interact with a database, and then deploy the application codebase as a single file. The ‘microservice’ is not such a layer in the monolithic application.
Microservices is a style of architecture where the application is split into smaller services that communicate with one another directly using protocols such as HTTP. The relationship between the application and the database is different in the case of microservices. Here, every microservice has its database. This is the factor that ensures loose coupling between the services.
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Several organizations are following the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Uber to set up microservices in place of the monolithic applications that they initially had. However, in the quest for building microservices, these organizations should be careful not to end up building mini monoliths.
Typically, a mini monolith is smaller in size but has many features bundled together. Though they may be independently deployable, they cannot be easily deployed. Moreover, configuring such a mini monolithic application is very difficult during the setup process. The infrastructure demands are high for a mini monolith. Library-level methods usually form the basis of communications in such codebases. Therefore, it is difficult to change tech stacks, upgrade, or scale independently.
A microservice should be smaller than the monolithic behemoths that came earlier on. They should not be too small either. Splitting the microservices into very small sizes can create more problems than when it is actually like a mini monolith in size.
It may be easier to create a microservice that is larger and coarse-grained and then split it into two smaller pieces than try and combine two fine-grained microservices into a larger service. Deciding the size of the microservice can start with event storming or identifying the most important events occurring in the business domain that is being served. Identifying the commands to kick off the events, putting together the data required for executing the commands, and deciding the policies required for the events' order, all together determine the size of the microservice.
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Deploying a monolithic application involves running multiple copies of a single large application. A microservices package may sometimes consist of hundreds of services. These services may be written in different languages and frameworks. Each of the services may be a mini-application in itself. Therefore, each service has its own monitoring scaling and deployment approaches.
Each service may have to be run for a specific number of instances based on the demand for the service. Each instance of the service must be supported by the requisite CPU, memory, and input-output resources. Above all of these, the deployment of these services must be reliable, fast and cost-effective.
There different microservice deployment patterns include Multiple Service Instances per Host Pattern, Service Instance per Host Pattern (Virtual Machine Pattern and Container Pattern), and Serverless Deployment.
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Microservice architectural model is an approach to developing a suite of smaller services that make up an entire application. Each service runs its own process, communicated independently using lightweight mechanisms, such as an HTTP resource API.
The smaller services are built around different business capabilities that are independently deployable using automated machinery. Each of the services is independently scalable.
The services can be written in different languages or frameworks and are managed by different teams. The teams own the product/services over their lifetime and take on the support burden. However, at the end of it all, every service has a firm containerized firm module boundary that is well suited to its functionality.
The industry experts believe that the microservices architectural style being followed is an important idea and worth serious consideration for enterprise applications that currently function as monoliths. However, the true consequences of this architectural style will only be revealed over time, probably several years after they have been made.
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