Today, companies need to eliminate the complexity and rigidity of the existing software development architecture, by adopting an architectural style capable of evolving rapidly and continuously over time, in accordance with business needs. The solution to these issues is microservice architecture, which is emerging thanks to its flexibility in relation to business needs.
What are microservices? Microservices were initially known as “micro-web-services”, a term first used by Peter Rodgers in 2005, during a presentation to explain small applications that perform a specific job.
What microservices are
Microservices are an architectural style in which the process of developing an application takes place by building it as a collection of small services, each of which works independently and communicates with others through APIs (application programming interface).
Thanks to these properties, by using microservices it is possible to develop an application in an agile and flexible way. Microservices can perform on various IT environments : on-premise, private, or public cloud, depending on the needs.
When using microservices, in order to obtain good results, the size of the development team should be very small (around 2-5 developers). In this architectural style, a key role is played by the SRP (single responsibility principle), which states that each object or service module is responsible for one function of the application only.
Microservice Architecture, differences with other styles
As mentioned above, microservice architecture development means creating applications as a suite of small and independent services. This architectural style shares services as key components with the SOA (service-oriented architecture), already created a decade ago, but has some differences.
In the development technique based on microservices, each of them is “fine-grained” and acts in a well-defined context (bounded context). Furthermore, it communicates with the other microservices through language-independent programming interfaces (APIs), letting the development team decide which to use of the most diverse tools. In the end, communication is managed using lightweight protocols and technologies (HTTP / REST).
On the contrary, in the SOA design style the services are “coarse-grained”. It means that services have no dimensional limitations and rely on an enterprise service bus (ESB) to communicate with each other, using technologies and protocols with higher bandwidth requirements (SOAP / WSDL).
There is an even bigger difference between the microservice architectural style and the traditional monolithic one: in the latter one, the application is designed as a single unit and, as the size increases, it could show management problems. Ultimately, the microservice architecture is linked to the Agile method, whose fundamental objective, in software development, is to be able to respond to the continuous change of user needs.
Microservices, benefits for business
Thanks to the properties just mentioned, microservices allow us to obtain various advantages. The first one regards agility and work for the organization: since microservices are small and dedicated to individual functions, they are easier to be developed and managed by the teams.
Moreover, thanks to microservices, the time-to-market of the release of new products is reduced, because of a less problematic, smoother, and faster development. There is also better scalability and flexibility, as the performance of each microservice can be expanded independently, using resources that can be distributed on multiple servers.
Adaptability to business needs is favored by the fact that microservices can be considered bricks of code that can be reused in a simple and quick way to create more and more new features. By using APIs to communicate with each other, microservices also guarantee greater openness to the integration with other applications and services.
The ability to integrate third-party applications and services allows you to expand your distribution channels and develop your offer of products and services through new commercial partnerships.
Microservices, benefits for IT
Even at the IT management level, benefits are numerous and important. The management and evolution of the software become easier since they can rely on principles such as “bounded context” and SRP, aimed at creating the cleanest and most flexible code possible.
The deployment phase is simplified by the compatibility of microservices with the CI/CD development methodologies (continuous integration / continuous deployment). In addition, in terms of technological adaptability, microservices do not put constraints and can be developed by choosing the most appropriate languages and technologies for the purposes to be achieved.
As already mentioned, the independent nature of each microservice makes it a component consisting of code and reusable functions. In the end, the SRP principle provides greater guarantees of reliability of the individual services, by isolating the functional areas.
The software architecture based on microservices and APIs is the most suitable one for creating and managing ever-changing applications, such as modern digital apps, over time. By using a microservice architecture becomes easier and faster to create agile, innovative products and services that respond to market dynamics.