Advantages of a Microservices Architecture
The software industry is a fast paced and extremely competitive space. As such, the industry is constantly flooded with new technologies, processes and tools that attempt to keep pace with the demands of the day. Most of these products and concepts that hit the market are extremely trendy and have a short life. This makes it extremely difficult for companies to determine what to adopt, and when to adopt it. This brings us to a fairly recent trend that is seeing ever increasing adoption, microservices. Microservices was created as an architectural framework to address the limitations of monolithic architectures. Microservices architectures are a derivative of service oriented architecture in the way that they seek to modularize an application into unique services in order to increase granularity. Even a decade later after its conception, it is still difficult for companies to determine if microservices architecture will be a good fit for their organization and its applications. Part of the reason for this is that microservices and its approaches are constantly evolving, with new tools such as Docker and Kubernetes, and new patterns and approaches.
We have assisted many companies with decoupling their monolithic applications into microservices and are firm believers that this is not a trend that will disappear in the near future. We carry this belief due to the long list of advantages a microservices architecture can offer. If after evaluating the advantages of a microservices architecture you are interested learning more, please check out our more detailed overview on microservices.
Here Are Some of the Advantages of a Microservices Architecture
Ease of On-Boarding
Because microservices are modular in design, each independent service is much smaller in scope when compared to a monolithic or SOA architecture. Each service can handle all of the components required in order to perform its function, including data storage and communication. As a result, small teams can be assigned to developing, testing, and deploying a single service. A smaller scope creates an enormous advantage when on-boarding new developers. A single microservices is much easier understand, because new developers do not need to understand the functionality and interdependence of each service.
Monolithic and SOA applications can take a long time to develop, test and deploy. A microservices architecture stands in contrast to the traditional approach in that each service can be developed and deployed independently. This reduces risk, because a failure in one service will not result in failure of other services, or even the entire application. This grants developers the ability updates a single service, and to roll back buggy updates without having to redeploy the entire application.
Flexible Data Storage
One of the greatest advantages of a microservices architecture is their ability to leverage polyglot persistence. Each service is free to use its own data storage. Monolithic and SOA architectures can only leverage a single data store. While this works well enough when data volumes are small and homogenous, as data volumes grow and data begins to have varied characteristics, companies begin to have issues addressing the processing requirements of their data. With a microservices architecture, developers are free to choose the data storage type that works best with the data being gathered and used by each service.
In line with the ability to use a data storage type for each service, developers are also free to utilize a programming language of their choosing for each service. Each programming language has its own set of functionality and purposes. Being able to choose the programming language that is best suited to address the functionality of a service is one of the greatest advantages of a microservices architecture.
Over time monolithic applications can become very large, and functionality that is deprecated and is no longer used begin to accumulate. Decoupling a monolithic application into microservices is a great opportunity to reduce the size of your code base by removing unused functionality. The speed and ease of future deployment will also enable you to keep your application free of unused functionality in the future.
Increased Fault Tolerance and Fault Isolation
Another advantage of a microservices architecture is an increase in fault tolerance and fault isolation. An important feature of a microservice is that they are very loosely coupled. A microservice should contain all of the components necessary in order to perform its function. This is in stark contrast with monolithic applications that exist as a single block of code and each module being highly interdependent on each other. As a result of being so loosely coupled, microservices are extremely fault tolerant. A failure of any service will not have an effect on another service. Issues also become extremely easy to locate and isolate to a single service, which aids in resolving issues quickly.
Increased Speed of Deployment
By far the greatest advantage of a microservices architecture are their ability to align with Agile, DevOps, and CICD. As companies embrace these ideologies and automate testing and deployment they are able to significantly increase their deployment velocities. Also, small teams can be developing, testing, and deploying multiple microservices at the same time, greatly reducing cycle time.
Scalability and Flexibility
A major advantage of a microservices architecture is the scalability and flexibility the provide. The flexibility microservices provide can also help eliminate vendor and technology commitments as microservices leave you free to utilize new technology stacks on a single service. Microservices architecture extremely loosely coupled, allowing you to scale them both horizontally and independently.
Simplify Security Monitoring
Each service is isolated from other services in the application. This makes identifying the source of a security issue easy to locate and keeps issues from effecting other areas of the application.
Microservices Are Here to Stay
With such a long list of advantages it is easy to see why so many companies are looking to decouple their unruly monolithic applications into microservices. We have seen first-hand the profound improvements organization can make on performance, efficiency, and overall culture by taking on a microservices initiative. But before you get started, make sure you check out this article on microservices disadvantages.
If you are interested in learning more about microservices please download our 11 page white paper "Making Microservices Work for Your Organization."