The last thing any company needs is to experience an outage in their systems. When your services go down, even partially, it can negatively impact productivity, the experience of your clients, and ultimately, your bottom line. In today’s on-demand business world, if you are not up and running, you are not earning.
In the past, updating, upgrading, or expanding your systems and applications, meant going offline or shutting down access until the process was completed. This could mean hours of lost time and money.
Luckily, technology systems have advanced enough that you can perform these sorts of tasks without reducing the available services to your clients. One of the simplest ways to achieve this type of continuous delivery is by using microservices.
Microservices allow you to restructure your apps and systems, speed up software delivery, transition away from legacy systems, and increase scalability without compromising safety or functionality. By breaking the whole system down into more manageable parts, microservices ensures that each section can be worked on independently without impacting the functioning of the others. Microservices can dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to update your systems and help keep you a step ahead of your competition.
Benefits of using Microservices
The use of open source tools and platforms in the development, growth, and implementation of microservices has led to a wide range of benefits to both developers and businesses. Open source containers, like Docker, mean you are no longer executing unnecessary functions and wasting space on your server. Instead, that server space is devoted to executing your application code which is where the true value lies to you and your users. Because the containers need to be managed, scheduler tools move containers on and off a server to ensure a smooth operation of your systems. And monitoring tools like Prometheus provides the ability to see exactly what is happening inside the application at any point in time.
These tools, and the microservices they enable, can vastly improve the functioning of your business by addressing the following problems:
1. Lost Productivity: When you have several development teams writing code within the same system, overlap is difficult to avoid. It will become impossible for teams to not run into problems with changes other teams are making. Code incompatibilities, errors, and the subsequent correction of these errors, delay the completion of the work. These delays and wasted efforts not only cost money and time, they can negatively impact the functioning of your systems. Microsystems help to break everything down into smaller parts so the developers are not interfering with the efforts of one another, allowing smoother transitions and the continued functioning of your app.
2. Lack of Focus: Because microsystems separate functions into smaller parts, it is easier to assign specific tasks to specific developers or teams. This allows the developers to focus on only what is in front of them without having to worry about what anyone else is doing. It makes it easier for these developers to know that the decisions they are making will support the whole by eliminating the stress of worrying about what other teams are doing and how it could impact their own efforts.
3. Delayed Releases: When multiple areas can be addressed at the same time, it will automatically speed up the process. Scattering your talent pool and creating a situation where conflicts can occur in the code, will slow everything to a crawl. Microsystems streamline the process meaning that updates that once would have taken days, can be done in a matter of hours.
4. Loss of Function: Upgrading systems and improving software could result in downtime, negatively impacting a company and its client base or customers. By using microservices, companies can perform these updates behind the scenes without disrupting user experience.
What’s ahead for Microservices?
The previous year saw a massive amount of growth in DevOps and this year is shaping up to be just as big. Here are some trends to watch:
1. Event-Driven Architecture (EDA)
With an increasing need for business agility, event-based architecture is on the rise. In this structure, one service sends an event and one or more observer containers respond by independently running logic without the producer of the event being aware of it. Function-as-a-service (FaaS) architecture is a good example of this at work. FaaS can reduce time spent writing code and reduce overhead as functions are managed by FaaS platforms like AWS Lambda. FaaS is not an ideal fit for every scenario but this is likely to improve, and use cases will become more numerous, as their platforms become more prominent.
The shift towards EDA can be seen across several industries including banking, telecommunications, delivery services and ride-sharing. Uber, for example, uses EDA to balance and match driver location with rider demand. Their system monitors over 1 million small regions and each one has its own activity event stream. It is able to capture events, aggregate them with context and analyze them, triggering prompts that direct drivers to areas of high demand, streamlining Uber’s service delivery.
2. Chaos Engineering
Chaos engineering is used to test a system’s ability to overcome production issues. Employed by major companies like Netflix, Facebook, Amazon, and Google, chaos engineering has evolved over the last decade. Originally it involved deploying Chaos Monkeys to turn off services in a production environment. Now, it has moved beyond simply testing failures to examining things like traffic spikes in order to identify issues in the system. With the increasing complexity of newer technologies, like deep learning, chaos engineering allows for the identification of weakness and instabilities in the systems. As these technologies continue to grow and develop, so too, will the strengths of chaos engineering.
Pioneered in the mainstream by Netflix, many other businesses have come to see the value in breaking things in order to build them better which has given rise to new companies like Gremlin, that specialize in systematically deploying faults and failures into your system to identify problems. These include identifying resource bottlenecks and network failures. This is particularly important as more and more companies come to rely on cloud-based technologies and offer on demand services.
3. Service Meshes
Service meshes are a much discussed cloud-native category. In short, they are a layer of infrastructure designed to facilitate and improve service-to-service communication. As the arrangement of network topologies becomes more complex and dynamic, service meshes can help to manage the traffic through things like routing, load balancing, and service discovery. Service meshes are not in widespread use at the moment but that is likely to change given that they are not limited to microservices and can be applied to serverless environments and virtual machines, too. Chaos engineering is another application for service meshes. Instead of installing tests for each host, service meshes can inject failures into the environment as a whole.
The popularity of tools like Docker and Kubernetes has solved issues of deployment but they have not solved issues with run time. Companies are using service meshes to standardize the handling of incoming and outgoing traffic. This technology could have massive implications for financial institutions that are developing more on demand services as well industries like healthcare that have a heavy reliance on data processing and collection.
Microservices ensure any company can improve, grow, secure, and update its systems without impacting the overall delivery of its services. And as technologies continue to develop and consumer demand increases, the ability to achieve continuous delivery becomes even more significant.