Why Microservices? Getting Started with Microservices

There’s a reason microservices are gaining traction — the framework allows teams to design and ship code fast.

Because each component is developed and maintained separately, teams can update one area without disrupting the entire system.

Despite its massive potential, getting started with microservices can be both challenging and stressful. For many organizations, a microservices transformation demands significant changes in culture, processes, and mindset.

Implementing a microservices architecture is more than a technical decision. It’s about developing the right teams, embracing Agile, and continuous improvement.

There are countless articles and case studies designed to guide your decision making, planning, and implementation processes. Unfortunately, most of the resources available exist to drive web traffic and focus on the benefits of embracing a microservices approach.

Drawing on experience from multiple successful initiatives, here is a short “microservices for beginners” guide that outlines what brands need to know before committing to a migration.

Microservices Need a Business Case: Why Would a Microservices Architecture Be Beneficial for Your Organization?

Why are microservices better than monoliths? A few key reasons immediately come to mind, like scalability, flexibility, and faster deployments.

But just because microservices have several advantages over monoliths, doesn’t mean you should jumpstart an initiative without thinking it through.

Embracing microservices is a long-term journey. It’s not about racing to buy all of the right tools, and success won’t come overnight.

Companies need to do a comprehensive audit of their existing systems and processes to identify existing problems and opportunities to improve.

The next step is to assess whether microservices is the right solution for solving those problems. As a starting point, you might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do small feature updates require expensive redeployment of the entire software suite or cause significant downtime?
  • Could employees and consumer end-users benefit faster deployment?
  • Will faster deployments provide a competitive advantage or faster time to market?
  • Will decoupling our current application strengthen our system and result in increased reliability?
  • Does the monolithic application contain a large amount of unused functionality?
  • Is the current application equipped to leverage the scalability and flexibility of the cloud?

While questions and answers vary by industry and individual company, here are the key things you’ll need to establish to determine why microservices are a logical next step for your organization.

  • Does your existing system enable employees to be more productive or does it slow them down?
  • Do customers report a high number of bugs, crashes, or complain about their experience with your solution?
  • Is your system keeping you from gaining or maintaining a competitive edge?
  • Does it pose any potential security threats?
  • Is your data stored in several locations, as opposed to a unified dataset?

Because microservices can be so complex, expensive, and disruptive, you’ll want to make sure that the effort brings a high return on investment.

Why use microservices? We’ll go over the key benefits of using microservices in this deep-dive guide.

Microservices for Beginners – The Keys to Getting Started

In This Exclusive Webinar, CBT Nuggets CTO Sean Sullivan and COO Mike Hahn of Tiempo Discuss How CBT Got Started Building a Powerful Microservices Solution:

At a glance, you might assume that the main challenges to building a microservices architecture are related to skills and budgeting for new technology.

While training and tools are part of the process, culture can be the most significant barrier to successful adoption.

Here are some core areas to address if you’re considering making the move toward microservices.

Audit Existing Internal Systems

While we’ve worked with a diverse range of clients, there’s a common thread among the success stories: a mature Agile culture and a focus on continuous deployment and integration.

These companies start with a solid foundation that works to improve existing processes before applying fancy tools to a broken system.

Typically, this means performing an audit of all critical areas. This includes Agile maturity, product planning, architecture, DevOps, and CI/CD to identify what needs to happen before you start planning your microservices migration.

Optimize Your Org Chart

During your audit, you may find that you’ll need to realign teams or provide training.

You may need to make some new hires, such as business analysts, product managers, or product directors. You may also need to bulk up your developer and DevOps teams, particularly if your current setup consists of disparate front-end and back-end teams.

Many of the companies we’ve worked with have built out full-stack, domain teams as part of their move toward microservices. This may require restructuring your org chart, which may cause some friction among internal teams. In the long term, you’ll see greater efficiency, scalability, and flexibility.

In the most successful microservices practices, developers focus full-time on a specific microservice. Because developers aren’t contributing on multiple teams at a time, they can work more efficiently and gain a deep understanding of their focus area.

Create a Culture of Accountability

In our experience, clients that encourage employee accountability and proactive ownership are the most successful. In these situations, all team members should be able to answer the question, “why are microservices better?” and feel invested in making the initiative successful.

Managers must track meaningful metrics and then offer constructive feedback and regular performance reviews for both individuals and teams.

Accountability also depends on establishing efficient communication among contributors. Doing so may require adopting chat software and other tools that support flexible collaboration from anywhere.

Why Microservices Initiatives Depend on a Well-Defined Strategy

Why are microservices better than your existing solution?

Once you’ve answered that question and defined the business case, culture, and processes to support the transformation, you’ll start developing your strategy.

There are many factors to consider, as each decision can have a significant impact on the performance of your final product.

Here’s a look at some of the critical things that will factor into your decision.

Will You Start from Scratch or Slowly Make the Transition?

Moving from microservices to monolith also means deciding how you’ll want to implement the change.

For example, you might use what’s known as the Lego strategy, where only new features are built as microservices and your monolithic codebase remains in place until you’ve replaced the full system.

If you don’t have a ton of urgent issues, this process might allow you to focus on improving internal culture and procedures without overwhelming your people.

Another gradual migration you might consider is known as the Ice Cream Scoop strategy. This approach involves scooping out specific features from your monolith app and rebuilding them as separate services.

Both of these options do present some potential downsides, including increased maintenance costs and the challenge of managing two versions of code. Alternatively, you may opt to rebuild the entire application from scratch.

Set Clear Goals throughout the Process

As you move toward a microservices approach, you’ll need to keep a clear set of goals in mind.

GitLab points toward Verizon as an example of why microservices goals are critical to success.

The telecom giant was able to reduce data center deployments from 30 days to less than eight hours by trading their monolith in for microservices. Their modernization strategy centered around four key goals:

  • Automation
  • Architecture
  • Extensibility
  • Being proactive

By keeping these goals front and center, the Verizon team was able to streamline processes, using a list of ‘must-haves’ to guide the decision-making process.

Which Microservices Patterns Will You Use?

Another thing to consider is which microservice patterns you’ll use. From observability patterns like log aggregation and audit logging to testing and decomposition, there’s a lot to consider.

Let’s say you decide on a pattern where there’s one database per microservice. In this case, changes in the database won’t impact the other services, but you’ll still need to determine whether or not to use a composer pattern. This could be a composer per domain, per product, or even per team.

You don’t want to end up with too many composers, as it adds unnecessary complications to your strategy. Alternatively, too few composers may leave you with a code set that’s too hard to maintain.

How Will Clients Access Each Service?

You also need to determine how the clients of a microservices application will access the individual services. One possible solution is using an API gateway to provide a single entry point to the microservices for the front end.

What Is Your Recovery Plan?

Your microservices architecture needs a solid recovery strategy, as failure can occur at multiple points and will be ruinous to your effort, especially if it cascades. You should understand the possible consequences of a microservice failing or taking too long to respond before you remedy them.

Hystrix by Netflix is one possible solution that can help you ensure latency and fault tolerance, and also make your distributed systems more resilient when failure is highly probable.

Other organizations rely on multiple instances of the same microservice to enable quick failure recovery, sometimes using a client load balancing tool.

On the other hand, if the database crashes then using a cache would allow you to retrieve data until the database is back online.

Of course, you can also combine the two approaches. There are multiple instances where the same microservice is used with a recovery tool, and this approach also has better scalability and availability.

As you can see, the decisions you make can have a profound impact on the results you experience.

Bottom line: your best bet to success is a solid understanding of everything involved in a microservices migration and a strategic plan to guide you through it.

Need Help Getting Started with Microservices? Tiempo Can Help

In the end, it’s important to avoid getting wrapped up in all the buzz surrounding microservices.

Most organizations lack the culture and scalability requirements needed to implement a successful microservices transformation without first taking smaller steps to increase agility.

Whether you’re looking toward embracing Agile methodologies as an initial first step, need a crash course in microservices for beginners, or help implementing the right patterns, Tiempo Development can help.

From strategy and planning to dedicated agile teams ready to execute on your vision, Tiempo’s experienced developers, consultants, and project managers understand what it takes to design, implement, and improve a successful microservices strategy.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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