Today, how we build applications is greatly affected by the business realities of our technological age. Just a few years ago, it was entirely possible to walk into a bank and be met with frustration when a maintenance window was put up, and while this was an inconvenience, everyone grudgingly accepted that it had to be dealt with.
Today? Not so much.
We live in the era of fast, cheap, and easy. And when businesses aren’t able to perform this way, they tend to become obsolete rather quickly.
Similarly, if an e-commerce site is generating errors while its customers browse, it is extremely likely to lose their interest and their loyalty to competitors that are able to fulfill their needs instantly and seamlessly.
• Several organizations find that making their applications scalable, agile, and most importantly, always available, is extremely challenging.
• Cutthroat competition demands constant innovation and improvement from applications. These have to continually get better – with new features and functionalities. In addition, businesses also have the challenge of innovating without much downtime, remaining available for the customers 24X7.
Business leaders have no option but to meet customers demands. In failing to do so, their respective organizations are bound to become irrelevant and lose business.
This environment and these market phenomena are the driving force that is pushing developers to turn towards the “microservices” application architecture.
But, what exactly are microservices? An excerpt from a blog article by IBM describes them as an architectural approach to creating cloud applications, where each application is built as a set of services. Each service runs in its own processes and communicates through application programming interfaces (API).
The importance of building superior software faster and more efficiently can really not be stressed further. Businesses certainly know this, but they are also faced with challenges caused by existing monolith applications, outdated platforms, and painfully long operational deployment cycles. These obstacles make innovation nearly impossible. Mission-critical applications have an additional challenge – their uptime requires highly available infrastructure. The monolithic application model subsequently resulted in inefficiencies that businesses simply had to do away with.
And so, the emergence of microservices is a direct result of the cost, time, and immense complexity involved in building new hardware. They’re also making fast progress. In fact, on the Gartner Hype Cycle model, microservices are rapidly heading towards the peak of inflated expectations. Of course, this is an expected trend, based on the fact that the microservices architecture pattern offers important benefits such as enabling agile development and delivery of complex enterprise applications.
It helps to look at clear examples to better elucidate the value of microservices. Microsoft Azure makes for an interesting case study in their adoption and use. In order to facilitate its own internal shift from on-premise to cloud and from monolithic applications to microservice-based applications, Microsoft had developed Service Fabric. Service Fabric is the force behind many of their massive-scale cloud services, such as Skype, SQL DB and so on.
But, what is particularly interesting and what we will discuss further in this post is how microservices and cloud can make an ideal combination in helping with application development.
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Could Microservices + Cloud be the answer?
It is beyond debate that cloud computing is rapidly revolutionizing the world of application development and IT system management. It has given us an incredibly powerful access to fast, agile, fairly inexpensive, and yet hugely scalable infrastructure. And not just that – cloud also allows for a more flexible approach with a self-service model and the option to pay only for services that have been used.
The result is improved efficiency, faster time-to-markets and reduced costs across various industries.
And now, coupled with a DevOps culture, microservices and PaaS are all set to rapidly scale innovation to brand new heights.
Let’s take a look at how this actually plays out.
Container technology such as Docker, Rocket and LXD provide code portability across various environments. This allows developers to move code written on their own machines across different platforms – private and public clouds and virtual machines. Containers work extremely well as microservices components. Different containerized components can use the underlying operating system, link together and communicate to create the complete application.
Organizations can also initiate programmed scaling behaviors by creating and destroying containers as required. This calls for the usage of performance monitoring and load balancing services, but allows a properly-configured cloud deployment to anticipate high volume traffic and avoid bottlenecks by duplicating containers and using load balancing to split traffic between these. If the traffic load declines, it works in reverse and scales back, removing suplicated containers and saving resources for later use.
Microservices also have the option to use a cloud provider’s API calls for event-driven computing. This allows for a more efficient method of writing the complete application. Functions that are being rarely used can be shifted to event-driven services that don’t utilize resources until the function is called.
Getting started with microservices
Microservices combined with cloud are transforming the way applications are being developed. If you’re interested in learning more about microservices or just want to stay current with rising technologies, do get in touch with one of our experts!