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The benefits of Microservices and why you should implement them

Bart Mroz
Group of construction workers image via Shutterstock

In business, to complete a big project, we segment it into digestible parts. We break our big tasks into smaller autonomous pieces and split up teams by talent. We do this in our daily lives to stay on track and to make sure that we don’t miss anything, so it’s a no brainer that microservices are a rising trend in software development.

Microservice architecture is made up of small “microtasks” that communicate with one another, but function independently. And, if your software development team hasn’t already started using microservice architecture, at least for some parts of your software infrastructure, it’s time to start now!
Microservices allow you to break out your processes so that small development teams can work more effectively on their tasks at hand. Instead of having a single blob of a development team with dozens of employees, each working on a handful of projects, microservice architecture allows you to split these teams up, with each team ready to focus its efforts on one or a few related projects. Microservice teams of 3-5 people will be able to sync their actions more effectively, communicate more clearly, and understand each team member’s role more definitively than they would be in a monolithic architecture.

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Microservice teams function autonomously and can make their own decisions with limited red tape and bureaucratic oversight thwarting real action. Each team is responsible for one or a few small, specialized codebases that relate to the relevant microservice or microservices. Teams become highly familiar with their assigned codebases and will be more attune to codebase defects, which means they’ll be able to spot issues before they become prominent. Side note: because of the nature of microservice architecture, defects do not have the same far-reaching repercussions that they would in monolithic architectures.

But just because microservice architecture allows for autonomy on a small scale, doesn’t mean you should ignore the big picture when implementing this structure. Before you migrate to microservices, there are a bunch of requirements that you should preliminarily have in place. It’s best to set parameters, guidelines, and requirements for each microservice and for each team, before switching from a monolithic setup. Also, a manager or leader should determine how each team will communicate with one another, and how and where each microservice codebase will communicate. You’ll also need to determine upstream and downstream functions before switching completely to microservice architecture.

SEE ALSO: Modularity, Microservices and Containers

So what companies and systems are most likely to benefit significantly from microservices? Big companies with complex systems should seriously consider microservice architecture, at least on some scale. You don’t have to switch your whole system to microservices at one time; you can transfer segment by segment. But, you’ll soon realize that with large, complicated systems, microservice architecture can make these complexities more manageable and approachable.

With microservices, your developers will have a closer connection to users because their actions are more focused and explicit, referring to limited segments of the software at a time. This means that if a customer encounters an issue, it will become immediately apparent which microservice team needs to handle that issue. On the other hand, microservices can also contribute to employee satisfaction as individual devs will feel more responsible for customer happiness and successes. Developers will have a clear path towards their goals and objectives and will be able to understand what they need to do and how it affects customers.

SEE ALSO: Microservices: Agreements must be kept

There’s one factor about microservices that may be more important than clarity, employee satisfaction, and autonomy, and that is safety. In a monolithic architecture a single issue might cause huge detriments throughout the system. And, as the codebase grows larger, the risk for adverse affects grows too. For this reason, many developers (particularly in eCommerce) will choose to freeze their code during the holiday season. But, with microservice architecture, this is not an issue of concern. As you write more lines of code in a microservice architecture, the potential for risk does not also rise as it otherwise. As long as you continue to segment your system into distinct codebases, the risk for failure levels off.

By using a microservice architecture, developers can work more rapidly towards goals that are more clearly defined, in a system that has a short feedback loop between users and developers. If you want to work more quickly, effectively, and comprehensibly, test out microservices, and see how much simpler your complex systems can become.

Author

Bart Mroz

Bart Mroz is the CEO and Head of Brand Experience at SUMO Heavy (www.sumoheavy.com), an e-commerce consultancy and business strategy firm.


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