In a sense, microservices are simply SOAs — i.e., service-oriented architecture — reinvented.
SOAs arose around the early 2000s. The development teams at that time had separated each service, and then connected them through a service bus or a network.
However, developers then started to combine SOAs in an attempt to reduce the lag between service bus calls. They found that placing those SOAs together made the application and its services run quicker — i.e., one artifact instead of several.
This resulted in monolithic applications. But again, developers found that as monoliths grew in terms of features and capabilities, they became more complicated — and costly — to maintain.
As a result, they broke the monoliths apart again, hence the rise of microservices.
Simply put, you can look at SOAs as individual services running over a bus or communications protocol over a network. Each of the application’s services are loosely coupled, but they speak to one another through a messaging protocol.
On the other hand, microservices — again, ‘SOA 2.0’ so to speak — are independent services, but they communicate with each other directly using lightweight protocols, such as HTTP.
The major difference between SOA and microservices is that each service on the SOA relies on one bus. If you overload the bus, then your application is at risk of crashing. Microservices could speak across multiple interconnected pathways. Unlike SOA, there’s no single point of failure.
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To be clear, you shouldn’t look at SOA as an alternative to microservices; rather, microservices have superseded SOA as the method of managing multiple services in an application.
So, why would you select microservices over monolithic and SOA applications?
Each microservice is independent. Therefore, it’s easier to test and deploy as it’s a standalone entity. Whatever happens to the service, happens to it alone without harming the application as a whole. This aspect also helps you prevent your application from cascading failure.
You can scale each microservice independently. So if one feature is getting more demand and, in turn, you need more resources, you can allocate more of the specific resources that service needs. So if the service just needs more memory, you can spin-up more memory — there’s no need to spin up an entire virtual machine (VM) for one thing.
With microservices, you can also scale the development side. You could assign a team to back one service and, in turn, have multiple teams working in parallel on the application. You can get more development work done in a shorter period of time.
If a new language or technology comes out, you can replace a specific microservice with a new one. There’s no need to re-write the whole application to just update or add a few features.
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In less common situations, you might need to consider SOA.
You could have a scenario where the organization’s other architecture was already built on SOA, so you’ll need to develop atop of it. However, these are niche cases. You should look
at SOA as an obsolete application architecture.
If you have modest development needs, such as a back office application, then you may be better off developing a no-frills monolithic application than adopting SOA.
Otherwise, if scaling, adding new features, and being cloud-native are on your roadmap, then you should move ahead with microservices. Yes, there’s a high upfront cost, but you’ll save in the way of lower hosting costs (via managed cloud services) and lower technical debt.
If you’re embarking on a new application project or application modernization project, then it’s no secret that selecting the right approach is difficult. This is a high-risk decision, so you need
to scrutinize every angle and find every opportunity for cutting your costs and time-to-market.
The right starting point would be to speak to an external software development agency. Doing so will enable you to accurately determine the size and scope of your project. Your partner will also give you access to the tools, expertise, and infrastructure you need to push your app live before your competitors, and control its long-term costs.
At Techolution, we help businesses push market-ready applications within weeks, enabling them to beat their competitors to the market and lower their costs. Call us today to see how you could acquire that same competitive edge.