What are microservices?

Microservices architecture is a version of a server-side solution where available services are loosely connected but maintain high efficiency and collaboration level. The loose part means that application services can work without impacting each other’s course and logic. This method brings many advantages to architecture-wise, but also to alleviate the team workload. Since the highly maintainable apps can deploy independently, there is no need for multiple teams to coordinate the process.

What’s more, in a microarchitecture environment, you can have different teams working on the various sections without impacting each other’s productivity or efficiency. However, more pressure on the team is applied, since decision-making responsibility shifts towards their end. When working with microservices, your team members better be talented and carry a whim of leadership and autonomy.

In a microarchitecture system, every single microservice has an independent team working on it.
In a microarchitecture system, every single microservice has an independent team working on it.
Each Team working on a microservice hence can be scaled up.
Each Team working on a microservice hence can be scaled up.

If you want to make an impressive eCommerce app with outstanding capabilities and flexibility for developers and customers, microservices is indeed one delivery path with many benefits. The application services can be integrated into an enabling new tech environment like Storefront.UI. The Storefront Library is made with eCommerce in mind, and, as the UI part suggests, it has a strong customization capability.

Microservices vs. Monolithic

To better understand the advantages presented by microservices, it’s best to compare it to some of its alternatives. There are many variations to Software Architectures – microservices being one. For example, the client-server method depends on request and response patterns, while Peer-to-peer architecture does not need a centralized server. Project specificity dictates which architecture fits best, or whether a selection of architectures is the way to go. Compared to the monolithic approach, microservices shine when it comes to customizing the power behind the technology they use.

Example of a frontend monolith, divided into modules.
Example of a frontend monolith, divided into modules.

Monolithic architecture is the conventional method used to unify every action, regardless of where it takes place – on the server, the client-side, or the database. In the monolithic approach, all core processes run packed within a single unit. Although this approach provides grounds for a simplified development process, scaling can pose a problem. Everything stacked tightly together forms an inseparable connection that, although with good intentions behind it, sometimes causes negative consequences. For example, when updates need to roll out, this might unnecessarily affect adjacent functions or processes.

Unlike monolithic architecture, where “one codebase rules them all,” each of the microservices has an independent database. This condition promotes changes without the worry of breaking any related or subordinate components. Monolithic is best suited for small companies who don’t have the urge to grow or develop further or can’t afford the team necessary to support an approach like microservices.

How microservices work

The name “Microservices Architecture” suggests they have a counterpart, and they do (macro architecture). The Microservices approach must be viewed as an essential part of a wholesome working solution. Microservices-based projects usually visually divide the internal framework into two separate branches micro and macro architecture.

The first relates to each service and its unique capabilities. One microservice’s fault does not crash down the whole system because each microservice runs its database and support functions. If microservices have a problem, the problem can be easily isolated, and collateral damage is avoided. This fact is incredibly valuable when creating robust and reliable apps.

Macro architecture is about a top-down view and control of all microservices involved. Successful projects where microservices are, each service functions separately, but also as a part forming the whole unit. Carefully assembled microservices collective effort is optimized towards achieving a common goal.

Self-Contained Systems

SCS is an architecture that focuses on providing all the logic needed to run all related services. Self-Contained Systems include everything within the bounds it creates and rules. For example, an SCS for a checkout stage would be everything about it, including checkout history and UI. This integrative method ensures that when a feature somewhere needs to be changed, it only affects the SCS that includes it.

Example of SCS Architecture.
Example of SCS Architecture

Asynchronous Microservices

When you type something in the team chat and don’t expect an immediate response – that’s asynchronous communication. The same goes for microservices where instead of team chat, there’s the request flow.

Asynchronous microservices don’t process information while making requests to other services. They also don’t make requests and wait for responses.

Communication without waiting for a response - Fire and Forget.
Communication without waiting for a response - Fire and Forget.

Because the quality of either asynchronous microservices and asynchronous communication doesn’t depend on the end-results, they are both independent. This condition makes for extra system stability. For example, when a system crash occurs, the culprit is quickly found and isolated.

Front-end Integration

Microservices also fit well with a web front-end. We have previously explained the sluggish nature of monolithic architecture, although they work well for native mobile applications. However, by default, a monolithic front-end is more resistant to change.

In comparison, a front-end using microservices as separate front-end components is more flexible and adapts to adjustments with ease.

Microservices Platforms

Microservices architecture supports scalability, and no wonder it works perfectly as part of a platform. Docker, for example, is very pro-microservices, with support for their communication and quick deployment. Important to note about Docker here is that it works best for fresh new projects. A migration process may prove difficult, with all the adjustments and possible installation of new support apps to turn a microservices platform into a working solution.

Features of a microservices Platform.
Features of a Microservices Platform.

Benefits

Microservices architecture advantages are too numerous to mention without categorizing them first. It allows for large and complex applications to deploy without troubles.

The micro in microservices plays a significant role in further benefits. Because the app services are small, they deploy quickly. Any independent party can get involved and perform maintenance, update, or upgrade.

Microservices open the possibility to build elaborate software tools using many skilled builders without them getting in each other’s way. When issues are detected, they are quickly singled out and attributed to one service. Addressing particular services allows them to be promptly tested and understood better and modified.

Services integration is possible through the IDE, and the high speed of the development environment also makes developers more productive. The development and deployment time reduction in microservices architecture has already made it a very desired solution.

Big companies have already switched to microservices, but that doesn’t mean this method works exclusively for big-size businesses. Microservices architecture accounts for the idea that not every company can become Nikon or Adidas. It clearly defines the company’s underlying reach and structure and builds on top of that. That’s why all size businesses can safely trust microservices as their base model of operations.

Legacy systems are still maintained, and their owners desperately fight the lack of support and the horror created by outdated software. Fortunately, microservices can solve this problem, finessing around old components, sometimes replacing obsolete ones, without repercussions.

Because of the unorthodox approach embedded in microservices architecture, they function relatively faster than any monolithic environment. The quick speed of access and interactivity puts forward the idea itself, by allocating only the resources which directly address the original requirements.

Microservices architecture is ideal for larger projects. Since big plans require similar size teams to realize it, human resource management becomes a problem. Thanks to the free-range of all services’ operations, the workload can be intelligently divided into smaller tasks for smaller teams, which makes workflow more comfortable to manage, and work gets done faster and with greater efficiency.

Conclusion

Microservices are part of successful projects like Amazon, Spotify, eBay. However, measuring the pros and cons is what categorizes them as a viable choice. Microservices are essential components of more significant schemes, along with macro architecture. Their real power lies in their capacity to support integration and operation; they can even resurrect legacy system projects. When aligned with present technologies as support means, tools like Docker or PaaS become obvious choices as platform solutions for microservices architecture.

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Author

Nashat Wanli | Chief Technical Officer

Nashat fills the role of the Chief Technology Officer at CodeCoda. Nashat, with his previous roles ranging from Software Engineer, Architect, over Project Manager to CTO at a top eCommerce company, brings with him nearly 25 years of valuable industry expertise. He is a self-motivated, highly skilled and capable person, that once added to a project provides value and key expertise.
His experience in the full range of software development works as an asset to our client's software developments, which he follows through with strong attention to detail and an innovative ambition that drives key changes.