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The goal of microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases

Microservices: To Do or Not to Do

As enterprise business moves from monoliths to microservices, adoption and successful implementations of microservices become more evident. The goal of microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Documenting hurdles and problems for the use of microservices will help consultants, architects and specialists to avoid repeating the same mistakes and learn how and when to use (or not use) microservices at the enterprise level. The circumstance when microservices is an appropriate solution described in this article and based on the authors' work experiences, best practices available in the microservices community. However, using microservices architecture does not guarantee success to the enterprise.

Introduction
In software development, smaller is usually better. More minor things are easier to code, easier to maintain, simpler to test, and easier to deploy. Systems built this way can be more scalable, more flexible, and deliver value with greater speed. Microservices supports this kind of development.

However, adoption of microservices architecture requires an enterprise to undergo changes across various areas.  The major changes are,

  1. Organizational Cultural Changes
  2. Architectural Changes
  3. Operational Changes
  4. Governance Changes

The following diagram describes the changes in details.

Figure 1: Changes affecting the Enterprise

Today, enterprises are adopting technologies like analytics, mobility, social media, IoT and smart embedded devices to change customer relationships, internal processes and value propositions. Microservices acts as building blocks for building modern distributed enterprise systems and become one of the enablers in the digital transformation journey. Microservices provides the agility, reliability, maintainability, scalability and deploy ability that aid enterprises through their digital transformation process. It helps the enterprise in achieving the following factors,

  • Focus on Business Need
  • Agility, enterprises can introduce new products or enhancements into the market quickly
  • Enhancing the customer experience
  • Reliability, If a service is down, the customer will not be able to use the functionality provided by that specific service, but the rest of the system is still usable
  • Scalability, the system can be configured to auto-scale (up / out) and during off-peak hours, it can go back to its normal configuration resulting in a better customer experience and cost-savings for the customer
  • Can be developed & deployed independently of other services

There exists, numerous articles and blogs on Microservices best practices, designing good services, and a robust supporting backbone [1-3]. The following sections of the paper summarizes, when to adopt Microservices and when not to use Microservices. It also highlights enterprise adoption of Reference Architecture using Microservices.

Characteristics of Microservices
Microservices is an architecture style, in which software systems or applications are composed of one or more independent and self-contained services. It is not a product, framework, or platform. It is a strategy for building large distributed systems. Microservices are loosely coupled and deployed independently of one another.

Microservices can be developed in any programming language, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms like HTTP resource API such as REST. Each Microservices focuses on completing one task and that one task represents a small business capability. There exist no criteria on how small a microservice must be. These services lead the application decomposition into smaller pieces. This helps to scale up parts of applications rather than scaling up the entire application.  The below diagram depicts the major characteristics of Microservices which are classified as,

  • Business
  • Technology
  • Process
  • People

Figure 2: Characteristics of Microservices

Business

  • Service Independent: As microservices are autonomous, each microservice can change in its lifecycle in an independent manner with other services.
  • Self-Contained: Services are easily replaceable and upgradeable. It promotes single ownership of the service. To achieve self-containment proper granularity in decomposition is essential.

Technology

  • Decentralized: Microservices decentralizes architectures, patterns, languages, standards, components and data responsibility and governance because of its architectural style.
  • Resiliency: If one of the microservices goes down, it won't necessarily bring the whole application down as it would with a monolithic
  • Polyglot: Microservices architecture supports multiple technologies, to be specific, a technology that is most fit for the purpose.
  • Single Responsibility: A Service is aligned to a single business activity and is responsible for that business activity and deliver the complete business logic necessary to fulfill the business activity
  • Scalability: Microservices can be deployed and scaled independently of each other.
  • Decoupled: Microservice should implement a single atomic business function. This helps in maintaining minimum dependency on other services

Process

  • Implementation Agnostic: Implementation shall support multiple development platforms and technologies and can be deployed in any of the containers
  • Blackbox: Microservice shall be a black box (no internal details will be exposed outside the service boundary) for other components / systems using / invoking it.
  • Bounded Context: This is one of the important characteristic of Microservices. Other services do not need to know anything about underlying implementation or architecture of other Microservices.
  • Innovation: New versions of small independent services can be deployed more rapidly, making it easier to experiment and innovate.
  • Quality: Composability and responsibility, more maintainable code, better scaling and optimization.

People

  • End-to-End Ownership: This is a cultural shift for the project team. The development team will maintain each project built using microservices architecture as opposed to the regular practice (of handing it over to the support and maintenance team).
  • Independent Governance: A single team owns the complete ownership of the microservice life cycle. This team owns the all the aspects of the microservices including governance. Governance is decentralized and autonomous.
  • Manageability: Smaller microservices code bases are easier for developers to understand, making changes and deployments easier.

Microservices Modeling - Example
Below is an example of microservices identification in e-Governance domain, the License Management application consists issue of license for various categories like starting of business, trading, weapon license etc. The application consists of several components including the LicenseFrontUI, which implements the user interface, along with some backend services for tracking, calculate fee, inspection etc. The application consists of following set of services. The below diagram depicts the sample application of License Management System using Microservices,

Figure 3: Microservices Modeling-Sample Application

SOA vs Microservices
Microservices Architecture is based on SOA vision, which is decomposition of software systems into loosely coupled services. Microservices extends the principles of SOA like business alignment, dependency minimization, and service contracts. Each Microservice has its own data store, and centralized governance.

SOA is preferred for an enterprise having plenty of legacy systems, heavy weight middleware and diverse applications.  The environment for Microservices architecture is the borderless enterprise: end-to-end, cloud-centric digital applications leveraging virtualized infrastructure.

Microservices use continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) methodologies and practices, as well as several critical components that were not as common in SOA, such as:

  • Polyglot programming and persistence.
  • Containers or immutable virtual machines (VMs).

The following table summarizes the difference between SOA and Microservices.

Service Oriented Architecture

Microservice Architecture

SOA started as a conceptual architecture, SOA technologies have evolved from the concepts.

Microservice architecture was derived from real software development patterns observed within numerous organizations

SOA is limited to few aspects of an enterprise such as technology and governance

Microservice architecture is broad, covering the patterns, principles, culture, and enterprise governance and  technologies

SOA was aiming to control and standardize enterprise application integration

Microservices goal is to be as responsive as possible to customer needs while maintaining high levels of software quality and system availability

Focus on standardization at enterprise level and follows the monolithic approach.

Allows different applications / teams to evolve autonomously.

More complex protocols like BPEL, WS-Choreography are used

Uses representational static transfer (REST) protocol

Loose or decoupled services

Atomicity is main feature of Microservices

In SOA data service layers are implemented using web-services-based data services. The exposed legacy data create-read-update-delete (CRUD) queries as web service operations.

Microservices abstract data services as RESTful resources, where individual microservices respond to RESTful calls by abstracting underlying CRUD operations.

Replacement of existing applications is complex and requires business case evaluation

Replacement is easy and most cost effective

Based on heavy weight technologies (SOAP, ESB etc) and not highly scalable

Based on lightweight technologies and is very scalable.

Application development and deployment takes longer time and its complex

Application development and deployment is rapid and simple. Less overhead

Centralized Governance. Does not support multiple development teams

Local and distributed governance. Supports multiple development teams working simultaneously and independently

Services need not be independent

Service has to be independent of other service

When to Do Microservices
The following are the factors, which drive the enterprise to use Microservices as their solution.

  • Development for cloud based systems. Ie when enterprise decides to move from traditional SOA to cloud based applications, Microservices are preferred
  • To develop highly distributed systems
  • When the enterprise primary businessrevolves around extremely high volumetransactions
  • If the functionality to be highly available. Deploy the functionality as service in multiple, redundant providers so that some are available even when others are not.
  • For the solutions that require the integration of business capability from disparate systems and programming models
  • For aligning business and IT functionality
  • For business and technology agility
  • Better ROI
  • For incremental development (Agile) and continuous deployment of business software

When Not to Do Microservices
The following are the factors, which negates the usage of Microservices.

  • Scenarios where monolithic and centralized application architecture make more sense (for more simple, small and low available application development)
  • For applications where consistency is high priority over eventual consistency
  • Small enterprises with homogeneous network and technology confined to the single vendor.
  • Scenarios where standards based integration not needed. The solution might be simple data exchange between applications and external systems.
  • When there is no frequent release because of changing requirements
  • Non cloud based development
  • Re-Architecting data platforms. If service relies upon a system of record (Mainframe, Oracle database, SAP system, and others), then Microservices do not fit the definition.
  • Scenarios where there is no product like ownership is required from the project teams
  • Cultural shift in enterprise in terms of team autonomy, long-term commitment to a technical / product stack is not possible or required.

Microservices Patterns
There are many patterns related to the Microservices Architecture. Following are some popular patterns used by applications built using Microservices architecture.

  1. Circuit Breaker: Circuit breaker pattern used in Microservices for fault tolerance to ensure that the failed service does not adversely affect the entire system.
  2. Gateway: API Gateway is responsible for aggregating data or, in some cases, acting as a simple routing layer for appropriate services. The API gateway seen as a single point of failure. A better approach may be to create multiple API gateways for the different platform or frontends that your application needs to support.
  3. Bounded Context: A bounded context contains models describing the domain and a boundary for the meaning of these models.
  4. CQRS: Command and Query Responsibility Segregation is a pattern that segregates the operations that read data (Queries) from the operations that update data (Commands) by using separate interfaces
  5. Orchestration or choreography used to execute and manage business processes or workflows.
  6. Bulkhead: This pattern is to use to avoid faults in one part of a system to take the entire system down.

The following diagram shows the holistic view of the Microservices Pattern commonly used across the enterprise.

Figure 4: Microservices Patterns

Benefits of Microservices
Microservices are build using lightweight framework, open source technologies. It offers quick time to market.

  • Improves fault isolation, larger applications can remain largely unaffected by the failure of a single module.
  • Provides business agility, supports Continuous Delivery. New Functionality can be added easily and quickly. Development teams work independently
  • Eliminates long-term commitment to a single technology stack, develop the code independently using whatever technology the developer feels right for delivering business function. Different part of systems can use different technology stack if needed for better performance.  Technology heterogeneity or polyglot programming is one essential benefit of Microservices.
  • Developer perspective, makes it easier for a new developer to understand the functionality of a service
  • Smaller codebases help developers focus and have a higher empathic relationship with the users of their product, leading to a better motivation and clarity in their work
  • Ease of deployment, one part of the system can move to another machine or to another cloud while rest of the service could stay on premise

Conclusion
This article narrates the situations, when to use Microservices and when not to use. Microservices are recommended for the usage at enterprise level.  Adoption of Microservices by an enterprise provides the extreme time to Market and establishes the bridge between Business and IT of the enterprise. Microservices implementation provides interoperability and flexibility to the enterprise.

In Microservices the functional logic is modeled and exposed as software service and is available on demand to other applications. Microservices is recommended cautiously, when the performance is important requirement, functionality is highly available and security is important.

Extensive use of Microservices and "compositional development" by assembling services rather than low-level programming can eventually leave IT with a collection of Microservices and not really a collection of applications.

Microservices are deployable on independent technology stacks. While they leverage Cloud models to deploy and orchestrate Microservices, individual Microservices can still reside on legacy platforms, as per the requirement.

To achieve success with Microservices, enterprises must first build a well-designed application according to existing platform standards; refactor the application into a collection of Microservices as necessary to meet business needs. With the right people, processes, and tools, Microservices can deliver faster development and deployment, easier maintenance, improved scalability, and freedom from long-term technology commitment.

Finally, do not create too many Microservices.  Every new Microservice uses multiple resources. Split larger services into Microservices only when the demand is for scaling, lifecycle, or data. Making them too small transfers complexity from the Microservices into the service integration task. Also, avoid sharing Microservices between systems.

It is up to the Enterprise IT architecture team to decided, when to adopt Microservices and when not to go for Microservices based on IT strategy assessment.

References

  1. "Microservices". martinfowler.com. Retrieved 2017-02-06
  2. S. Newman, Building Microservices - Designing Fine-Grained Systems, O'Reilly, 2015
  3. E. Wolff, Microservices: Flexible Software Architecture, Addison-Wesley, 2016

Glossary of Terms

Acronym/Abbreviation

Definition

SOA

Service Oriented Architecture

HTTP

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol

REST

Representational State Transfer

API

Application Programing Interface

ROI

Return On Investment

IOT

Internet Of Things

SOAP

Simple Object Access Protocol

ESB

Enterprise Service Bus

BPEL

Business Process Execution Language

WS

Web Services

Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank Hari Kishan Burle, Raju Alluri of Global Enterprise Architecture

Group of Wipro Technologies for giving the required time and support in many ways in bringing

Up the article as part of Global Enterprise Architecture Practice efforts.

Disclaimer
The views expressed in this article/presentation are that of authors and Wipro does not subscribe to the substance, veracity or truthfulness of the said opinion

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One of the biggest challenges with adopting a DevOps mentality is: new applications are easily adapted to cloud-native, microservice-based, or containerized architectures - they can be built for them - but old applications need complex refactoring. On the other hand, these new technologies can require relearning or adapting new, oftentimes more complex, methodologies and tools to be ready for production. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, explored how Nutanix is bringing these sides together - agility for pets, governance for cattle - in a single unified platform. With this combined approach, Nutanix removes silos - both technological and human - propelling your applications to a new level.
SYS-CON Events announced today that WineSOFT will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based in Seoul and Irvine, WineSOFT is an innovative software house focusing on internet infrastructure solutions. The venture started as a bootstrap start-up in 2010 by focusing on making the internet faster and more powerful. WineSOFT’s knowledge is based on the expertise of TCP/IP, VPN, SSL, peer-to-peer, mobile browser, and live streaming solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akvelon will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Akvelon is a business and technology consulting firm that specializes in applying cutting-edge technology to problems in fields as diverse as mobile technology, sports technology, finance, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we've helped public, private and nonprofit organizations implement technology solutions that speed and simplify their operations. As one of the fastest growing IT solution providers in the country, we have gained a reputation for effortless implementations with relentless follow-through and enduring support.
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists discussed how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations might slip up with the wrong focus, how to manage change and risk in all three areas, what is possible and what is not, where to start, and especially how new structures, processes, and technologies can help drive a new DevOps culture.
With the rise of DevOps, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in Enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery for the business. When it comes to adopting containers in the enterprise, security is the highest adoption barrier. Is your organization ready to address the security risks with containers for your DevOps environment? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Van Tuin, Chief Technologist, NA West at Red Hat, will discuss: The top security risks with containers and how to manage these risks at scale including Images, Builds, Registry, Deployment, Hosts, Network, Storage, APIs, Monitoring/Logging, and Federation.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Among the proven benefits, DevOps is correlated with 20% faster time-to-market, 22% improvement in quality, and 18% reduction in dev and ops costs, according to research firm Vanson-Bourne. It is changing the way IT works, how businesses interact with customers, and how organizations are buying, building, and delivering software.
Your clients expect transactions to never fail, cloud access to be fast and always on, and their data to be protected - no exceptions. Hear about how Secure Service Container (SSC), an IBM-exclusive open technology, enables secure building and hosting of next-generation applications, both cloud and on-premises. SSC protects the full stack from external and insider threats, allows automatic encryption of data in-flight and at-rest, and is tamper-resistant during installation and runtime – with no changes to applications required.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of engineers can navigate the Carrier Ecosystem for your IT team acting as an extension of your business, producing a hassle-free experience.