What Are Microservices in Plain
Updated: Jul 6
“Microservices are small, autonomous services that work together. Microservices give us significantly more freedom to react and make decisions, allowing us to respond faster to the inevitable change that impacts all of us.”
Sam Newman, “Building Microservices”
In modern conditions, different business sectors need to be adaptable. A quick response to environmental changes makes any company stronger than its competitors. There is a lot of information on the Net about microservices that can solve the problem. But is everything as simple as it seems? Let’s take a closer look at this approach and its capabilities.
Microservices: What Is Their Effectiveness
The more complex a system, the more attentive management it requires. Otherwise, it becomes burdened and ceases to fulfill its goals. To prevent such a situation, a large machine is divided into many parts. These are named microservices.
Put differently, microservices are components of a unified system, which help developers to work independently on every small process. This method allows for upgrading software flexibility. And hence a company can respond to market changes quickly and efficiently.
Thus, this solution is useful for companies that need to support competitiveness. Thanks to it, not only the software changes but also all related business processes.
What Is Microservices Architecture?
As seen, microservice architecture is a way of system organization, where separate microservices cooperate. The key feature is that every service can be changed independently without affecting other ones.
Use of Microservices: Principle of Work
Companies operate microservices based on their needs. Some of them completely change a unified structure (monolith) to many elements. The others partially implement this architecture.
Microservices work in the following way: there are many independent services in measures of only big mechanism. Each of them is developed and improved without affecting the work of the rest ones. Services interact with each other using application programming interfaces (API) or other similar tools.
This method has many do and don’ts, which will be considered later. They affect a company’s decision to implement microservices or not. In any case, a correct architecture can achieve results that a monolith cannot provide. And even therefore, often better to spend time and resources to build it.
Advantages of Microservices
Independent microservices allow quickly adapting to market conditions.
It is possible to use the service based on a microservice architecture on numerous devices.
The development cycle becomes shorter. The quality of each component gets better.
With the right organization, problems in one service will not affect the operation of others.
Developers can choose the most suitable language and approach for every service.
Disadvantages of Microservice Architecture
Microservices are much harder to manage than monoliths.
The building process is time-consuming.
Support and maintenance of services are costly.
Weak data sharing between services. It’s leading to action duplication.
Security problems can arise because of a sharp increase in the volume of transmitted data.
How to Divide Monolith to Microservices?
The transition from monolith to a microservice architecture is a complicated process. Despite the many pitfalls, the transformation is worth it. Let’s consider what a business must do to integrate and support microservice architecture in the right way.
Before the transformation begins, it is necessary to change the corporate culture of the company. The architecture changes will affect not only software but also teams’ work.
It is essential to test the interaction of services. Sometimes the work of one does not coincide with the processes of the other. All elements should work together not to complicate the usage of the architecture.
When creating versions of a service, it must be paid attention to its connection with others. They should work harmoniously.
It is imperative to have centralized logs to manage the overall system.
And sure the architecture needs to be maintained. Its productive work depends on the ease of components’ interaction and general processes monitoring.
Companies That Use Microservices: Success Stories
PayPal. It changed a monolith into microservices in 2013. In 2016 Akara Sucharitakul, Principal MTS at PayPal, reported that PayPal applications could serve over billion hits a day due to 8 virtual machines (VM) and two virtual central processing units (vCPU).
“Where are we today? We have 16 different functional areas of the company, which use up to 710 APIs. It is a huge success. We have more than 2500 microservices, which are running in our environment.”
Matt Cole, Senior Integration Engineering at PayPal, 2019
Walmart. The company changed its architecture in 2012 due to the inefficiency of the monolith functioning. For the last two years before the transformation, it could not provide services on Black Friday. As of 2016, the pieces of evidence of upliftment were the following:
the conversion was up to 20%;
mobile orders amount increased up to 98%;
and there was no more downtime on Black Friday.
The new architecture's primary goal was increasing scalability to 4 billion people and 25+ million apps by 2020. Is there a result? We’ll find out closer to the end of this year.
Netflix. It implemented the architecture in 2011 before the term “microservice” was coined. The transition took two years and was related to the difficulties of storing large users’ data amounts.
“About 2 billion requests are processed by more than 500 different microservices. Therefore, all that you see is a huge work of microservices and over 30 engineering teams.”
Sudhir Tonse, Cloud Platform Engineering at Netflix, 2015
As of 2020, the company has over 1000 microservices, which manage relevant parts of the website. The architecture still shows high availability, scalability, and resilience to system failures.
Thus, microservices are small modules of a unified system that arise as a result of transition from a monolithic architecture to a microservice one. Such segments are responsible for specific processes and interact with each other.
The advantage of microservice architecture is in increasing the company’s flexibility. Each of the services can be changed without stopping the big system. And this is the main difference between microservices and monolithic architectures.
On the other hand, the transition process requires complex solutions and significant monetary investments. But as shows the successful experience of business giants, this transformation is paying off.