Microservices Containers – Benefits and Challenges
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Microservices Containers – Benefits and Challenges
Containers for microservices have become more popular in the last decade. Developing and running applications across many containers gives you advantages such as resilience and agility because of scaling and possible improvements. Microservices are becoming more popular and according to a survey of 354 different enterprises, 63% of these are currently using the microservices model with improved employee efficiency.
Microservices consist of software systems developed as single-function modules that have well-defined operations and interfaces. Containerization refers to the packaging of the software code with its attached and required components such as libraries, frameworks, runtime, and other dependencies isolated in containers.
Different options for deploying microservices
The hosting model for microservices' computing resources may be different, and containers are only one of the options. Other options that may be used to host the microservices are:
1. Using virtual machines (VMs)
It is generally not a recommended practice to host microservices inside VMs. Deploying to a single VM is not possible and may end up as a single point of failure otherwise. If you are deploying to multiple VMs they will have to be connected. VMs are always a better-suited option for monolithic applications.
2. Serverless functions
These provide the necessary isolated environments that run preconfigured code that will respond to triggers such as user login requests.
Why containers are the best-suited for microservices
Containers are faster and more lightweight when compared to VMs. But these are not the only reasons why they are well-suited for microservices. The other benefits are as follows:
- Better performance and lower infrastructure requirement
VMs may take a few minutes to start running, but containers are lightweight and start in a couple of seconds. The agility of microservices can be fully exploited when they are deployed in containers.
- More security
Containers provide more isolation for a containerized microservice. A microservice has a smaller attack surface and is kept isolated from other microservices when in containers. Therefore, a security vulnerability found in one container cannot penetrate another container. However, microservices that are deployed directly on a host OS or VMs are less secure when compared to containers.
- Easy for developers
Containerized microservices make it easier for developers. Each microservice is relatively small and is a self-contained component. Therefore, developers can work on their specific tasks instead of getting involved in the overall application’s complexities. Also, each service can be developed in the language that best suits the service’s needs.
- Service discovery
Service discovery is an important part of SOA-based architecture. When microservices are hosted in containers, they can be easily localized and intercommunication can take place without any difficulty. In the case of VMs, each host can likely have a different networking configuration and this makes designing a network architecture (which can support reliable service discovery) quite difficult.
- Easy Orchestration
It is easy to orchestrate, start, stop, schedule, and restart microservices that run in containers on shared platforms.
If you want to transition from legacy software into microservices architecture, speak to our expert developers today!
- Availability of more tools
More tools supporting microservices in containers have emerged over the last few years. Orchestration platforms, such as Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS (Kubernetes), are more popular and enjoy good community support today. Noticeably, there are only a few tools available to orchestrate microservices hosted in VMs.
Using containers for microservices - challenges
Despite the many benefits of using containerized microservices, some challenges also exist. Some of those challenges are given below.
- Increased workforce complexity
Containers add a layer of abstraction to the system which adds more complexity in monitoring, managing, and debugging when issues occur. Many developers find it difficult to deal with the abstract nature of containers, especially when they are implementing microservices for an extensive application.
Containers are designed to work with dynamic infrastructure. This means that they are constantly booting up and closing down based on load requirements. This makes deploying, managing and monitoring potentially a more challenging job. Additional complexities are encountered when microservices are coded in different languages.
- Needs a learning curve
Developers have to get familiar with dockers, Kubernetes, or container orchestration tools. Servers must also be ready for different container runtimes as well as the network and storage resources required for each of them. One way to reduce this learning curve is to use managed container services such as AWS ECS/AWS EKS.
- Persistent data storage
Because containers are disposable and last only for a short time, you have to be ready with a method for writing data to persistent storage outside the containers.
Factors to keep in mind when using containers for microservices
Here are some important points to keep in mind when containerizing your microservices:
- Container runtime
A key point to consider is the container runtime. Containerized microservices become easy to manage when they come along with a complete set of configuration management tools instead of deploying container runtimes on their own. Some examples of container runtimes are Docker, runC, Windows Containers, etc. Regardless of the container runtime that you use, you should ensure that it conforms to the specifications of the Open Container Initiative (OCI).
- Keep external storage handy
As container data is temporary and disappears as soon as the instance shuts down, your application must have an external storage mechanism ready to save data. Many orchestration tools come with data storage solutions. However, when comparing data storage solutions, it is vital to review the features and attributes of each of these tools to choose the one for your organization. AWS ECS supports different types of persistent volumes such as FSX for windows, EFS, Docker volumes etc.
- Service orchestration
When you work with a large number of containers, then it is important to use orchestration tools that can automate operational tasks such as shared storage, load balancing among containers, etc. Whereas Kubernetes is accepted as the go-to container orchestration tool, especially if you are using Dockers as the container runtime for your application, other container management platforms are also available for specialized cases. AWS ECS and AWS EKS have built-in enterprise-level features like integrated CI/CD pipelines and large-scale workflow automation.
- Make networking and communication a priority
Even if microservices are deployed independently in their containers, they will still have to communicate with one another. The application design should, therefore, consider networking and communication issues that may arise in the future. Some services/tools used in this connection are AWS API gateway, AWS load balancers (ALB, NLB), VPC, etc.
Compared to VM-based monolithic applications, containerized microservices are more secure because the attack surface that is exposed is less. However, microservices more often need access to back-end resources. Running containers in privileged mode gives them direct access to the host's root capabilities, and this could expose the kernel/sensitive system components. It is vital to implement container image scanners that automatically detect potential security exposures and other audit tools like verifying if container configurations are meeting security requirements. These are in addition to applying solid IAM practices, good network policies, security groups, and security context definitions.
The challenges mentioned above are faced by any organization that has decided to implement microservices for a complex and extensive application. You achieve the same benefits as mentioned above by containerizing microservices by following the industry standard best implementation practices.
Are you looking to reorganize your legacy software? Talk to us today!
How SayOne Can assist you in microservices development
At Sayone, we design and implement microservices systems that do not have complex architectural layers, and this enables the services to deliver exceptionally fast performance. Moreover, we provide services that are significantly decoupled, allowing you to launch independent services and not end up with the usual inter-dependent microservices that work more or less like a monolith.
We design the microservices keeping in mind the margin required to allow for the transitioning into the new system of your organization’s legacy architecture as well as expanding into the cloud system. Our microservices comprise lightweight code and we provide competitive pricing options for our clients.
Our microservices are built according to the latest international security guidelines that ensure the complete safety of all the data. We also ensure that we deliver the services within stipulated deadlines and we always assure a quick turnaround time for our clients. Equipped with the best infrastructure and the latest tools and technologies, our expert developers will provide you with the best microservices that are easily scalable, enabling a good ROI in the shortest period.
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