The objective of microservices architecture is to create a loosely coupled, distributed, and autonomous framework while also constituting a DevOps model that is efficient and allows for automated development and deployment processes. However, there are many challenges in implementing microservices in an enterprise. This article talks about the key strategies and best practices for the success of microservices in an enterprise.
Key Strategies and Best Practices for Microservices
This section lists the key strategies and best practices that you can take advantage of for the success of implementing microservices.
Coping with Microservices Complexity
Although microservices architecture allows better flexibility and performance, one of the significant challenges in adopting it is the complexity of microservices architecture. Microservices architecture is complex, much more so than legacy applications. Service discovery, testing, networking, and monitoring microservices is difficult. As more and more microservices are added to the application, there are more moving parts, scalability becomes challenging, and the risk of possible failure also increases. To mitigate this challenge of complexity, new tools should be implemented. Microservices applications are complex, and one should be familiar with the different programming languages, frameworks, APIs, and tools – the team should be adept at learning and applying new tools and technologies.
Continuous delivery plays a crucial role in the success of microservices. It is a method of software development in which teams release small sets of changes regularly. It necessitates a DevOps culture and the automation of a significant portion of the delivery process. Releasing small sets of updates frequently lowers the likelihood of errors occurring and makes it easier to correct problems.
Unlike a microservices application, in a monolithic application, one error might bring down the entire application. Since a microservices application comprises of several small independently deployable units, failure of one part of the application doesn’t bring down the entire application. However, a microservices application is not resilient to failures and you should design your microservices application for failure, i.e., design your microservices applications with failure in mind. A microservices-based application should be architected in such a way that even if a microservice is down (for whatever reason it might be such as, network failure, bug in the application, network outage, or system failure), the application should continue to function and be able to recover gracefully with minimal effort. It should also be noted that fault tolerance in a microservices-based application is much more complicated than in a monolithic one.
Testing microservices-based applications are much more complicated than testing monolithic applications. Microservices applications often leverage asynchrony due to which creating manual and automated tests become a challenge. When testing a microservices-based application, you should test each microservice separately. The overall application should also be tested to ensure that the overall functionality is working as expected.
Due to the diverse and dispersed nature of microservices-based applications, they are challenging to monitor, visualize, and analyze. When it comes to managing complex applications, traditional application monitoring and performance management (APM) solutions fall short.
Application performance should be monitored and measured periodically. To do this, you should be aware of the basic system-level metrics such as CPU and RAM, application-level metrics, and business-level metrics like transactions per second.
You should be able to effectively monitor and manage the entire infrastructure so that you can detect failures related to the CPU, network, application, etc.., quickly. Hence, choosing appropriate monitoring, visualization, and analysis solution for your microservices-based applications is critical. You should monitor your microservices continuously in real-time.
Microservices are designed to be consumed by several service consumers. Microservices are designed, developed, and deployed independently of one another. For the evolution of microservices, it is imperative that the microservices can be versioned. Typically, a microservices-based application should provide support for multiple versions of the service. The architecture should incorporate the necessary routing logic to support multiple versions of microservices at run-rime.
When working with microservices-based applications, the architecture should be built in such a way that the runtime architecture supports componentization at a granular level. You should be able to de-centralize, decouple, and automatically deploy the application through centralized management. A microservices-based application should be loosely coupled so as to enable the application to scale seamlessly.
An application that leverages microservices should have a flexible architecture that has decentralized components so that enforcement of security policies is seamless. The architecture should provide better visibility of errors, root-cause analysis, transactional assurance, etc. so that problems (if any) can be detected early before they become outrages.
You can scale any application by adding computing power. However, there are subtle differences in the way you scale a monolith and a microservice. When scaling a monolith, you need to scale the entire application. On the contrary, when scaling a microservice, you would need to add computing power to only the component that needs to be scaled. You can take advantage of containers, self-contained components that can be duplicated or expanded as needed, easily. You can also create new containers either automatically or programmatically on demand.
The ability to scale each component separately in a microservices-based application helps you to optimize the resource usage as well since not all, but only specific parts of the application that would be using the resource. You can also distribute the resources automatically using auto-scaling to help optimize resource usage. Microservices applications can be written in various programming languages, deployed on a wide range of hardware, and running on a wide variety of operating systems. When the demand for such a microservices-based application increases at runtime, all the underlying components would have to be coordinated to scale or, you would have to identify the part or parts of the application that needs to be scaled.
In a microservices-based application, the entire application is decomposed into several microservices. You can take advantage of the service mesh to integrate your services. Service mesh would provide you many features out-of-the-box like, load balancing, encrypt decrypt, authentication and authorization, service discovery, circuit breakers, rate limiting, etc.
When working with microservices you should design your application keeping security in mind. You should implement security features such as SSL, TLS, key management, encryption at rest, etc., earlier in the software development lifecycle. If you introduce security later in the cycle, it would incur a refactoring cost which is unwanted.
Performance of any application is important from the end-user’s perspective and a microservices-based is no exception to this. Performance is a challenge in microservices-based applications. Since these applications consume more resources than monolithic applications, the burden on the servers is also more. Hence, you might have to have a strategy in place to deploy additional servers. When designing a microservices-based application, you should code efficiently and design for optimization. The containers should also be deployed wisely and monitor your microservices application effectively. You should understand the dependencies between two or more microservices and monitor each microservice individually.
Rapid Provisioning of Microservices
You should be well equipped for rapid provisioning and application deployment. In other words, you should be able to provision the infrastructure and deploy the services quickly there. You should also be able to fire up a new server at the drop of a hat, i.e., you should be able to provision the servers in hours rather than days. For rapid provisioning automation is a must – it may not be possible at the beginning; but over a period, you should be able to get it.
Transitioning a monolith to a microservice can be costly. So, to avoid increased costs of rebuilding a monolithic application. the earlier you switch to a microservice the better. To avoid upfront DevOps investments, a good option is to build a minimal viable product (MVP) and then start building microservices around it. You should be aware of the technical infrastructure that should be in place ahead of building microservices in an enterprise.