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Building Applications with Microservice Architecture

Microservice architecture (MSA) has gained popularity as an essential enabler of agility. Trailblazers such as Netflix and Amazon and many other large-scale web applications moved from monolithic units to microservices for reasons ranging from faster scalability to continuous innovation.

Currently, mid-sized and even smaller organizations are adopting this modular service-oriented approach to significantly reduce development time and get to market faster.

While rapid digitalization and distributed cloud computing favor microservice architecture, it need not be the default approach in every case. The key is to discern the need without blindly following the fad and this is where QBurst architects prove their mettle.

What is Microservice Architecture

Microservice architecture refers to a software design style where different components are created and maintained as isolated services. Each microservice is intended to be small, handling a single business function and deployed individually without affecting the rest of the system.

Traditionally, applications were built as a single cohesive unit with all the functionalities woven together. Such software is usually deployed on a single machine and can only be scaled vertically. As the impracticality of this struck, logical units within the monolith were separated into physical layers such as User Interface, Server logic or Web Service, and Database for storage (tiered architecture).

Eventually, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) where the Web Service layer is vertically split into different services and the DB layer into corresponding storage solutions came to be a viable design for easy scaling. Microservice architecture can be seen as the progressive evolution of SOA.

Below is the representation of a sample retailer application with microservice architecture. Each service is responsible for a single business functionality. At the same time, the microservices communicate with each other for required information.

Example of microservice architecture in E-commerce application

Example of microservice architecture in e-commerce application

Why You May Need Microservices

Large or small, enterprises need to continually meet the growing demands and expectations of their customers to remain relevant. While the traditional way of developing and deploying software cannot often keep up, the microservices approach offers certain benefits that enable organizations to stay nimble and competitive.

Flexibility in Using Technologies

MSA allows for decoupled services written in different languages to coexist in harmony. So you have the freedom to choose the most appropriate tech stack for each business capability.

Autonomous Teams

Globally distributed teams can work more productively when the solution is decomposed into smaller fragments independent of each other.

Continuous Delivery

With different teams working on different components, development speeds up enabling business agility. You can add new components, deploy, and scale them independently.

Easier Maintenance

You can isolate failures and modify a microservice without affecting the entire system. This allows for easier application maintenance as compared to complex monolithic systems.

Replace the Monolith with Microservices

Our client’s application was a rapid prototyping tool used for product design and development. The application was a monolith with tightly coupled client and server such that components could not be developed or scaled separately. QBurst team was asked to evaluate the technology stack, understand its shortcomings, and propose a new solution.

Besides major performance impediments, our technical evaluation revealed serious concerns regarding source code maintenance, code quality, and overall application scalability. We suggested redesigning the system as an N-tiered application with layers in a microservices model, where each module will be independent and loosely coupled with others. The hybrid microservice architecture was to make use of a single shared database instead of a database per service model.

We proposed complete automation of the new application life cycle. Build and deployment of the microservices were to be automated using Jenkins. With IaC (Infrastructure as Code) in place, deployment, monitoring, and management of infrastructure could also be automated. Dockerizing the application would help reduce resource utilization and enable rapid deployments while orchestration tools would simplify container lifecycle management. Finally, continuous infrastructure monitoring and log management using the ELK Stack was proposed.

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