A microservice is a type of application architecture that structures an application as a collection of services where every service is independently deployable. The overall advantage of microservice architectures is that they enable the continuous delivery of large and complex applications in the cloud with a collection of services that are:
- Easy to maintain and test
- Faster to develop
- Loosely coupled
- Easier to scale
- Independently deployable
- Organized around business capabilities
- More supportive of development teams
Benefits of Microservices Architecture
Microservices can have a tremendously positive effect on enterprises across countless industries that have a lot of users, like banking, healthcare, and retail, among others. External customers and internal end users of enterprise applications in these sectors need to have fine-grained scalability, and only microservices will offer it. While nearly a third of respondents see customer growth and faster time to market as big microservice benefits, 53% have trouble finding experts, according to IBM Microservices in the enterprise, 2021 Survey.
Application migration in cloud computing using microservices gives you the ability to ensure rapid, frequent, and reliable delivery of large, complex applications. These drive increased service and product go-to-market speed that can transform a business’s operational efficiency, brand positioning, and market share.
Most businesses consider legacy application modernization for monolithic applications along with plans for cloud native applications, which are both based on microservices. This cloud first strategy means customer service (CS), customer experience (CX), and operational agility will define the winners and losers in the post-pandemic digital age.
Over 80 percent of businesses will be competing on customer experience, according to Gartner. Application development and the ability to quickly implement application updates and services determine that CX.
Enterprises that are first to market with updated and innovative services and products via applications will be the winners. This is especially true across competitive markets like banking, financial services, and retail. Healthcare and manufacturing face stiff competition, but it is more about shifting industry needs where players compete against thin margins, cost overruns, and changing consumer/customer needs.
Legacy mainframes and monolithic applications are the foundation of many businesses and industries. This makes it difficult to pursue a cloud first strategy that enables fast application updates for optimum CX. Mainframe modernization application development is an important goal for these businesses, while also being the most challenging. Monolithic applications are difficult to update and make cloud compatible, so they make excellent candidates for migration to microservices architecture.
When you compare monolithic & microservices, the latter is much easier to scale and modernize. But microservices migration can be challenging for reasons that are rooted in strategy, process, organization, and skills.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Microservices in Application Development
Shorter Development Time
Microservices let your developers deploy each independent service on its own, which means faster application updates. You can assign a development team to each individual service so they can focus on that one service (such as a feature) without worrying and working through the rest of the application. You basically eliminate complexity by localizing changes and updates to individual services.
Businesses usually deploy microservices in containers like Docker, which allows them to be divided into smaller pieces of code. They can be created as Docker images and named as docker files, which makes it easier to link microservices into a large application. Docker with Kubernetes can deliver even better results by enabling you to:
- Split the app into smaller containers that run on different cloud environments
- Integrate and orchestrate containers
- Efficiently test and manage inputs and outputs
- Scale apps quickly for faster time-to-market
- Avoid vendor lock-in and major process changes
- Use a configuration file to manage them declaratively
- Automatically restart and replicate apps for independent healing
In contrast, a monolithic legacy application modernization requires your developers to update the entire stack to release just one or two feature updates. Microservices allow you to push more updates faster.
Simpler to Scale
Overcoming the challenges of mainframe modernization application development and scalability for healthcare technology startups and banking are just two examples showing the power of microservices. Microservices are much easier to scale to meet additional demand. You can easily answer the questions of horizontal vs vertical scaling by eliminating the need to spin-up entire VMs and only increasing resources for high demand, such as RAM.
Better at Avoiding Downtime
Microservices help your applications avoid cascading failures by limiting it to a single service, which prevents the application from crashing. However, service meshes such as Istio play a vital role in enabling this through circuit-breaking and their ability to extend Kubernetes’ functionality.
Easier to Eliminate Vendor or Technology Lock-In
You’re not relying on one service provider; rather, you can source services from any vendor in the world. Besides flexibility, you also reduce technical debt by substituting services later down the line, such as when it becomes obsolete or too expensive to use.
Better at Supporting Developers
Another microservices architecture advantage is that it allows you to build strong development teams where you can:
- Follow Conway’s Law to assign each service to a specialized team with specific knowledge on that service
- Support many different services that build competencies in multiple programming languages, frameworks, and tools