The concept of ‘service-oriented architectures’ came into use in the IT sphere relatively recently – in the early 2010s. We can say that the notion of a microservice architecture appeared as a result of Agile product development methods becoming extremely popular, as well as DevOps specialists emerging globally.
The hypothetical breakdown of software into microservices was discussed in the global IT community back in the early 2000s. But developers started actually pushing this direction only in 2011, having announced the related solution at the Venice workshop.
Currently, according to an independent survey, about 92% of respondents actively increase the number of microservices in their business solutions and about a third of respondents could see the direct benefits of such innovations in the first months of their implementation.
Along with that, however, about 50% of companies are still completely ignorant of what advantages this technological innovation can bring.
So let’s dive deeper into the topic of microservices architecture implementation, consider all the nuances and benefits of microservices as a whole, and figure out how to divide monolith into microservices.
What is Microservices Architecture?
Microservice software architecture is based on many interconnected, but independently functioning software modules that can be easily replaced, removed, and reused in other projects. Each such module – a ‘microservice’ – has a specific, narrowly targeted task. At the same time, even if this module accesses the DBMS or server, it does it autonomously, without resorting to the help of third-party modules.
I.e., essentially, you can use small ‘bricks’, each of which has a unique purpose, to construct a bigger ‘building’ – the final software product.
Such autonomous deployments are kind of ‘enhanced’ versions of the web service architecture that appeared somewhat earlier and where tasks for each of the services are more global. For example, email, calendar, translator, web search, etc. are web services governed by one large-scale piece of software – Google Chrome web browser.
In turn, each of these web services can be further subdivided into microservices. And here the processor of user requests for authentication/authorization in the system is a typical example of a microservice.
Microservices Architecture Benefits
Generally speaking, the benefits of service-oriented architectures have become more tangible as the software itself becomes more complex. Thus, the microservice architecture allows you to:
- add new components in the shortest possible time without digging into the source code of the entire software product;
- easily solve the issue of fault tolerance in software products that are being upgraded or launched into the release;
- create multipurpose components that can be used in multiple projects;
- customize a software product without the risk of the entire system collapsing due to an error;
- simplify the app architecture by making it symmetrical instead of hierarchical (which is typical for monolithic products) and forming peer-to-peer dependencies between components;
- use any convenient for development tools, libraries, environments, and languages.
Why Use Microservices Architecture?
Given all of the above benefits, microservice architecture should seem like a kind of a utopian solution for any type of software. And yes, indeed, in view of the rather complicated structure of most modern applications, if you don’t divide it into separate modules, you may confuse both developers & users, waste human resources, and risk passing lots of errors. Basically, as such, software becomes easier to customize and scale with the cloud.
Nevertheless, there are cases when the abuse of breaking software into pieces results in performance issues, which makes many developers still settle for larger architectural services, the connections within which are built without involving network protocols.
Thus, since each of the blocks independently communicates with the server, if at some point users start to simultaneously interact with the software, they may simply collapse the server. In order to balance the positive and negative characteristics of microservices, in some cases, it makes sense to divide the software into larger components – web services that generate less stress load for the server.
It is also worth mentioning the lack of standardization for microservices: since developers no longer need to agree on formats, errors can occur when exchanging messages between any two microservices. This further complicates the debugging process and increases the risk of hard-to-fix bugs.
Microservices VS Monolithic software
Compared to monolithic software architecture, microservices almost always win. In the case of a ‘monoblock’ solution, all communications, data, and features exist in a tight connection with each other and work as one. And if you decide to upgrade your software, you will automatically change other components as well, which can be cumbersome in complex projects. For another thing, monolithic software isn’t really efficient in terms of fault tolerance because if some of the code blocks gets messed up, the whole system will crash.
On the other hand, not all initially monolithic software can be divided into microservices. There still may be components that, from a logical point of view, should function autonomously, but are interdependent in practice. In this case, weigh how much it will cost you to rewrite them from scratch.
How to split a Monolith into Microservices
And now, let’s talk about breaking a monolith into microservices. Each case of this matter is unique, but we can still give some basic recommendations.
Basically, you will have to focus on a single yet not so easy task – to eliminate dependencies between software components. For starters, simply write down what tasks your software performs, divide them into subtasks, and so on, until these subtasks become completely primitive so that they can fit into one simple if-else construct, loop or switch.
As a rule, the analysis of functionality begins on the front end. At the same time, you will need to think about how to divide the data so that access to it is not too frequent and it doesn’t slow down the performance. Here, your goal is to analyze and break up the subtasks ‘vertically’, separating the functionality from the data and redirecting everything related to the interface to the appropriate APIs.
Additionally, you will have to highlight the software parts that will most likely be subject to change in the future – they will also need to be structured as detailed as possible so as not to “crush” the newly remade software in a new way each time.
All in all, get ready to do some serious code refactoring. In many cases, responsible developers who truly care about the outcome of their work suggest rewriting monolithic software from scratch, based on a prepared microservice architecture, making the process cheaper and faster.
As you can see, creating a microservices platform from scratch is significantly easier than fully redesigning a monolithic application. On the other hand, both options are quite feasible tasks, especially for professionals like us.
Contact us to discuss the details of your project and experience the effectiveness of your business solution granted by true experts yourself.