Have you ever heard of microservices? If you work with technology or are interested in the area, you probably heard about few times, especially when we talk about software development.
The world is increasingly digitized effecting the way companies do business. It is essential to stay in line with technological innovations to offer the best to customers and not be overtaken by the competition.
If you are thinking of building a digital solution or modernizing an existing one, it is important to know the different ways of structuring a system available.
Check out what microservices are, their main advantages, and challenges of this method while reading. Enjoy it!
What are microservices?
In software development, services are the functionalities present in the application. In this sense, microservices, as their name suggests, refer to the division of functions into smaller components.
To illustrate, imagine you are preparing lunch for some friends. The objective is to deliver a complete plate with different types of food. However, to make it easier, it is possible to divide the preparation into small parts, for example, salad, meat, and beans.
Similarly, through the microservices approach, during the construction of the software, small independent services are separated that will then communicate with each other to generate the delivery of the complete system to the user.
What is a monolithic architecture?
According to the dictionary, monolith means a monument made of a single block of stone.
Based on this principle, monolithic architecture is when all functionalities are executed within the same process. There is only a single structure that houses all the functions of the system.
Going back to the previous illustration, when you cook a soup you cook all ingredients together, in the same pan.
So what is the best approach for your company’s software development: monolithic or microservices? Check out!
Differences between microservices and monolithic architecture
The main difference between microservices and monolithic architecture is that, in the first case, the services run independently. In the second, the components are interdependent.
In other words, each microservice has its specifications and database. For example, there is the possibility of using different programming languages between them.
In this way, deployment and updating happen individually. It’s like several small autonomous systems can be linked together to build a larger application.
Generally, this communication takes place through APIs (Application Programming Interface), which is a set of rules that makes it possible to exchange information between two or more software using specific protocols.
In contrast, in the monolithic architecture, there is only one code that groups all the application’s functionalities. That is, everything is developed in a single environment and with the same database, generating dependency between the services.
What are the benefits of using microservices?
Check out four advantages of using microservices in software development compared to the monolithic architecture.
First, microservices work independently of each other. Because of this, it is easier to update functionality.
In practice, you do not need to shut down the entire application to maintain only one specific service. The software is not “down”, it is possible to isolate the resources that will be modified from the rest.
It is also a great advantage when a function presents some type of failure since this will not necessarily affect other system functionalities.
To understand better, let’s use the illustration mentioned at the beginning, imagine that you let the rice burn while preparing lunch. In this case, this does not mean that the other parts of the meal, such as beans and meat, suffered the same damage because they are independent components.
Similarly, what happens to one microservice does not necessarily depend on what happens to another. In the monolithic architecture, the application as a whole is impacted when there is a failure or if scheduled maintenance is performed.
The monolithic approach would work like soup. If you let it burn, all the ingredients in the pan will be affected in some way by the situation.
Another benefit of using a microservices-oriented approach when building software is that it allows you to choose the best types of technologies for each feature.
For example, it is possible to use the most suitable programming language to perform a function, even if the choice is different from that used in other parts of the system.
In contrast, in monolithic architecture, there is little flexibility to implement the use of several languages together, the development team is usually restricted to working with the initial technology.
The truth is that the market is constantly evolving, and this directly impacts your company’s needs. Over time, it may be necessary to make changes to the software used by the business to meet new demands, both internal and external.
For this, it is necessary to build scalable applications, which is the ability of a system to adapt to meet demands satisfactorily. In this sense, microservices facilitate this process since maintenance is facilitated and individualized.
For example, some situations that need scalability are:
- Creation of new functionalities;
- Expansion or reduction of local infrastructure;
- Considerable increase in the number of customers;
Focus on business
Finally, one more advantage of using microservices in software development is that it helps you stay focused on your business goals.
In this approach, each service represents a different function of the system. It may correspond to a specific aspect of the business. Thus, teams focus on ensuring good results in their area of expertise.
The development team does not work in isolation but in conjunction with other sectors. It helps to measure application success based not only on the technical side but also by aligning the goals set by the business with the role of functionality.
However, despite bringing many benefits, microservices have some disadvantages compared to monolithic architecture. Learn more about it.
Challenges of using microservices
It is clear that microservices can be very advantageous, but implementing this approach also involves some challenges. Discover the main ones:
- Testing: testing microservices can be challenging, as you need to be comprehensive and verify each of the components individually, ensuring both proper functioning and proper communication between them;
- Complexity: requires a lot of planning to establish how the division of all functionalities will work, defining the structure and general organization of the system. This makes the implementation process more complex than a monolithic architecture;
- Version control: updating microservices is independent, but it is important to do it in a way that does not generate conflicts and incompatibilities with other functions. It’s like a book, the chapters are separate, but they need harmony for the story to make sense;
- Log Management: Logs are small records about events that happen on a system. In the case of microservices, the challenge is able to gather and correlate all the logs dispersed between services to have an overview of the system.
These are some of the difficulties faced when opting for a software architecture focused on microservices.
It is important to know these challenges to develop strategies that help overcome barriers and make the most of the technological innovation potential that this approach is capable of providing for your business.
Microservices use cases
As considered throughout the article, it is clear that microservices are capable of providing many benefits during the development of a technology solution. However, the approach also faces some challenges.
In view of this, in which situations is it indicated to use this strategy? In reality, there are different types of use cases for microservices. Among the most common practices, it is interesting to mention:
- Complex applications: offering a complete software, or platform, to users requires the use of a wide variety of functions. Since microservices are independent, you can focus on each feature individually and improving its performance;
- Medical or finance software: Generally, this type of application cannot go offline and handles a high volume of sensitive data. With the use of microservices, there is the possibility of processing several requests at the same time, without losing agility and security;
- Legacy systems: these are old software that need to be updated. In this case, one option is to invest in the implementation of microservices to modernize specific parts of the technology with the objective of not having to rebuild the complete system;
- Continuous Integration and Delivery: Also known as Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD), these are approaches that automate code changes and delivery to users. With microservices, you can keep those updates frequent, but without interfering with the entire application.
Microservices refer to an approach within software development in which an application is formed through the integration of small autonomous systems, divided according to functionality.
This method can provide many advantages when compared to monolithic architecture, which is when all functions are processed together. Among these benefits are included:
- Grater concentration on business objectives;
- Ease of system scalability;
- More flexibility in maintenance;
- Flexibility in choosing technologies.
However, it is also possible to mention some difficulties, such as:
- Implementation complexity;
- Component tests;
- Log management;
- Version control.
So, what is the best approach to use in your company’s software development: monolithic or microservices? The truth is, there is no standard answer to this question.
Despite the numerous benefits of microservices in more complex structures, in cases of simple applications, it may be interesting to opt for a monolithic architecture that has an easier deployment.
So, before investing in the creation of new software, or modifying a system in use, it is necessary to analyze and stipulate the objectives that you want to achieve. It includes both the technical part and the business goals.
That is, it is important to think of a solution that is specific to the reality of your company to be able to succeed.
With that in mind, BRQ’s team of specialists is available to assist in the planning and construction of the ideal technological solution for your company.
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