Best of 2020: When To Use – and Not To Use – Microservices

As we close out 2020, we at Container Journal wanted to highlight the five most popular articles of the year. Following is the first in our series of the Best of 2020.

Think microservices are a good fit? Here are some tips to help you decide whether and when to use microservices

There is no dearth of digital transformations today. Every day is an opportunity for a disruptive concept to break into the realm of software development. In the line of innovations and newer policies in software development operations, the concept that took the entire development environment by storm was the onset of microservices. The concept is growing tremendously in space and is increasingly witnessing adoption from various industries and companies.

Camunda conducted a global survey in 2018 across 354 enterprises. In its research, it revealed that over 60% of its respondents were keen on incorporating microservices architecture in their processes. The reason shared was that this architecture enabled companies to achieve a quicker time to promote and market new products and services.

Microservices architecture has been tried, tested and implemented by market players including Amazon, Twitter, Netflix, PayPal, Twitter and more, and a lot of companies are joining the bandwagon as they realize the power of this architecture.

For the uninitiated, microservices are the opposites of monolithic applications. Microservices architecture does not involve the development of an application as one whole unit. Rather, it is built as different suites of services that are capable of being independently deployed. They are modular and have their own distinct sets of processes running independently.

Are Microservices for You?

The major difference between microservices and monolithic applications is that they can be written in multiple languages and use diverse storage types. This architecture is also scalable and allows for easy implementation of changes. These advantages have made microservices one of the most sought architectures in recent years.

However, what’s trending need not necessarily be right for you and your business requirements. Every business is different and comes with its own unique requirements. No architecture in the development offers a one-size-fits-all solution and it’s entirely up to businesses to select the right ones for their models.

This article is all about shedding light on whether microservices is right for you and suggesting you the time you need and don’t need this architecture.

Determining Whether to Use

Any hype is followed by an equal percentage of euphoria and disappointment. This happens mainly because of one thing: joining a bandwagon just because it’s trending. We’ve shared this earlier. It’s not advisable to get started with something simply because your competitors are doing it. Your business should incorporate strategies and frameworks that fall in line with its requirements. That’s exactly why you should pause for a moment and reflect if you really need microservices.

To help you get started, ask the following questions to yourself.

  • Do you have a complete understanding of what microservices are and how they could influence your development operations?
  • Is your business mature enough to adopt microservices?
  • How strong is your practice of application infrastructure?
  • Do you have a tried and tested agile or DevOps practice?
  • Is your data management team skilled enough to support the incorporation? If it’s a no for this one, they will only slow down what is supposed to be a swift process.
  • Is your product at the fulcrum of your business model?
  • What are your goals and vision on scaling up? The architecture is designed for scalability and is ideal only if you have a sound plan of expanding both your product/service and your market.
  • Is your business model tested and proven?

If your answers convince you—regardless of the side—you’ll be able to make better decisions.

To make it even simpler, we have compiled a few pointers that will further allow you to understand when you should go for microservices and when you shouldn’t.

When to Use Microservices

As a good starting point, these would be some of the ideal situations you can prefer microservices over their monolithic counterparts.

  • When you want your monolithic application to accommodate scalability, agility, manageability and delivery speed
  • When you have to rewrite legacy applications in today’s programming languages or tech stacks to keep up with modern-day business requirements and solutions
  • When you have standalone business applications or modules that have to be reused across diverse channels—some good examples would be login services, search options, authentication facilities and more
  • If you’re building a highly agile application (product or service) that demands swift speed of delivery, innovation and more

When Not to Use Microservices

The co-founder and CTO of Contino, Benjamin Wootton, says that microservices are not a free lunch. This signifies the fact that they’re not for everybody. Ever since its inception and the fact that Netflix sort of romanticized microservices by claiming there are over 700 microservices running for the platform, companies got all excited to implement them in their businesses.

But what most failed to notice is that the success stories stemmed mostly from product-based companies, which have gone through tons of iterations and models before they had a market-ready product. This architecture became appropriate to them after they realized the problem they tried to solve and became successful at it. That’s why it’s essential to understand in-depth if you need microservices for your business.

As a starting point, here are some factors.

  • Microservices are solutions to complex concerns and if your business doesn’t have complex issues, understand that you don’t have a system in place to handle the complexities of microservices.
  • Using microservices can prove to offer contrary consequences if you don’t have a team size that cannot handle the tasks involved. This will only result in the delay of delivery.
  • Implementing microservices for the sake of it can be hampering as well. If your application does not require to be broken down into microservices, you don’t need this. There is no absolute necessity that all applications should be broken down to microservices. There are those that are simple by their nature and functionality.

Have a thorough understanding of the challenges involved apart from the benefits because they contain more insights on whether you should go about implementing this architecture. If you manage to see the right value for your product with microservices, go for it.

Hardik Shah

Hardik Shah works as a tech consultant at Simform, a leading custom software development company. He leads large scale mobility programs covering platforms, solutions, governance, standardization and best practices.

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