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The use of microservices for building digital products is a new trend in the software development industry. According to recent statistics, roughly 4 out of 5 businesses already use microservices. The many benefits of microservices make this architecture type more popular compared to its ancestor, the monolithic architecture.

In the post, you will explore the reasons why the use of microservices gains popularity. Also, you'll discover the challenges the microservice architecture helps solve and explore real-world cases.

WHAT IS MICROSERVICE ARCHITECTURE

Microservices is an architecture type used for building software using many distinctive solutions combined into an app. Each microservice is responsible for tackling a small and specific task. Since an app's architecture is split into different pieces, it may have various business logic, tech stacks, and databases.


Microservice app architecture

Microservices communicate with each other using HTTP/HTTPS requests and third-party APIs. For instance, you can easily compose an application using distinctive accounting, payment, and shipping services connected to one application.

Real-world applications may have dozens or hundreds of microservices connected to one system.

Key Characteristics of Microservice Apps

Indeed, due to the distributed architecture, microservices applications have distinctive peculiarities. The key characteristics of a microservice app are:

1. Independent components

One of the primary benefits of the microservice architecture over the monolith is the use of independent components. They are responsible for completing certain tasks only. Distinctive microservices don't affect other components of an application. 

2. Decentralized approach

Each microservice has its database and data processing unit. Therefore, there is no need to maintain an expensive centralized database and server to process and store all the information. Moreover, the decentralized product development approach offers the opportunity to apply various technologies to achieve certain business goals.

3. Great evolutionary

The benefits of the microservice architecture foresee the opportunity to upgrade applications by adding new features fast. Consequently, applications that use microservices can quickly grow and obtain new functionalities.

4. Failures resistance

Since each microservice is an independent part, it can be isolated or disabled. In such a case, the entire application may lack certain functionality. However, it will keep working without any issues. The updated microservice can be connected back after fixing an error.

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BENEFITS OF MICROSERVICE ARCHITECTURE

The benefits of the microservice architecture help businesses develop reliable, scalable, and easy-to-maintain applications fast. Let's explore the advantages of the microservice architecture in more detail below.

1. Self-Sufficiency

Every microservice is an independent node used to build an app. The decentralized approach helps develop self-sufficient applications that can work effectively by combining different technologies. Each microservice is designed to help achieve certain business goals. 

Therefore, developers can easily upgrade and update components without affecting the overall software. When a new challenge appears, a business can easily develop and add a new microservice or upgrade the existing one to solve a new problem.

For instance, an online store owner can connect the following third-party tools using API integrations or HTTP/HTTPS requests:

  • an accounting system
  • a payment gateway
  • an inventory management system
  • a customer portal
  • a web analytics service


All the services can work independently and be maintained separately, which is one of the main benefits of microservices. 

2. Technical Variety

Applications that are built using the monolithic architecture use the defined tech stack. Developers have to use the selected set of technologies and adjust them to build new solutions.

Oppositely, microservices offer the opportunity to use various technologies to achieve business goals. It brings outstanding flexibility in the use of technologies.

Every microservice can be developed using a set of different technologies and programming languages to get the best solutions possible. Businesses can choose technologies to use based on their access to tech talents or problems needed to solve.

Here are the most popular programming languages and their best uses:

  • Javaweb and mobile applications, embedded systems
  • Python machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • C++ local applications, proprietary services
  • PHP server-side web development and command-line scripting
  • SQL data analysis and big data mining
  • Ruby back-end web and data processing

Any programming language can be used to develop microservices to take the most advantage of every technology.

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3. Scalability

The ability to scale up an application fast is one of the most important features of the microservices architecture. Most businesses value the outstanding flexibility offered by microservices. Since each microservice uses a distinctive technology and database, it can be scaled up independently. 

Therefore, you can start small by using the minimum required amount of resources for every microservice to keep your operating costs as low as possible. When the load on one microservice increases, its database and computing power can be expanded separately.

Moreover, the dispersed architecture foresees the ability to upgrade your software by adding new microservices. For instance, if a business needs an alternative payment gateway, it can be easily connected and added to the checkout.

In case additional functionality is needed to achieve business goals, software engineers can develop it to expand the number of services offered by a company. There is no limit to the number of microservices that can be connected. For example, the Netflix web application is divided into more than 700 microservices.

4. High Sustainability

The use of microservices helps build highly sustainable applications. Microservices are loosely connected, so they work as independent parts.

Therefore, if a microservice stops working because of technical issues, the app's functionality is poorly affected. Moreover, other microservice will likely not be affected by a node's outgate. The ability to allocate and fix errors is one of the top benefits of microservices.

For instance, if a payment gateway installed stops working, users can explore the site, add goods to the cart, and even make purchases online if an alternative payment solution is available.

5. Continuous Delivery

Continuous delivery is a part of CI/CD, a method that helps automate product development and release processes to increase the overall performance of teams. 

Since microservices work autonomously, developers can easily establish a continuous integration/continuous delivery environment. They can upgrade certain services without disabling the entire application. Software engineers can release new features effectively, keeping the maximum uptime of an application.

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6. Minor Changes are Easier To Implement

The decentralized architecture of microservice applications helps developers implement minor updates seamlessly. Software engineers can temporarily disable a microservice to implement minor changes, making a small piece of functionality unavailable for used users. The app will remain unaffected because there is no need to redeploy the entire system to update some features when using the microservice architecture.

7. Simplified Onboarding

Since the entire app is divided into small microservices that have distinctive tech stacks, the onboarding process is fast. New software engineers don't need to explore the source code of a huge monolithic application. 

Vice versa, they have to inspect a small microservice to start working on a new project. Microservices help draw new developers and onboard them faster, optimizing the overall product development time.

PROBLEMS MICROSERVICE ARCHITECTURE HELPS SOLVE

The microservice architecture helps solve a lot of problems for large businesses and enterprises that grow fast. Top tech companies have already switched to microservices because they help solve the following problems:

Complex Codebase

Monolithic applications that constantly evolve by adding new features have complicated codebases. The use of microservices helps software engineers to reduce the complexity of an application's codebase.

Poor Scalability

The majority of large businesses and enterprises have switched to microservices because this architecture type foresees the opportunity to scale up an app fast and stress-free. Moreover, businesses can develop and connect new features to evolve their applications.

Unacceptable Downtime

Outstanding failure resistance and the absence of the need to redeploy an application to release new apps are the key benefits of using the microservice architecture. They help significantly increase an app's uptime to cut business losses.

Deficient Technology Stack Capabilities

Some technologies may not offer the required tools to solve business problems. The use of microservices helps overcome this challenge because software engineers can create microservices using various technologies and connect them.

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MICROSERVICES IMPLEMENTATION STATISTICS

What are the benefits of microservices architecture in the real world? Feel free to find it out by exploring the microservices implementation statistics in more detail.

Microservices implementation statistics

According to the research conducted by Statista, 81.5% of companies already use microservices, and 17.5% of businesses plan to switch to this architecture type. However, only 1% of respondents are satisfied with the monolithic architecture.


Let's take a closer look at the microservices implementation statistics prepared by IBM below.

  • 92% of businesses experienced zero issues when switching to the microservices architecture
  • 84% of respondents stated that they will keep investing in microservices development
  • 28% of companies stated that improved application quality and performance are the key benefits of microservices
  • 84% of businesses noticed improved collaboration between team members
  • 87% of companies stated that the microservices adoption expenses are worth it
  • 26% of microservices adopters noticed security improvements

ADVANTAGES OF MICROSERVICES — REAL-WORLD CASES

Due to the many benefits of microservices, a lot of companies have switched to microservices to overcome major challenges and achieve their business goals.

The top adopters of the microservice architecture are:

  • Amazon — over 1000 microservices
  • Netflix — over 700 microservices
  • Uber — over 500 microservices

Top microservices adopeters

Down below, you will find the real-world microservice architecture implementation cases.

Amazon

Like many startups, Amazon was built as a monolith because it is easy to create and launch an app with a monolithic architecture. However, the company started growing at a high pace, so it needed to develop many new features and scale its online platform fast.

Amazon's codebase became extremely large and complicated in 2001. The company had to implement all the changes released by hundreds of software engineers. Developers were required to spend a lot of time resolving all the conflicts and merging all the changes into a single version.

Moreover, they were required to rebuild the codebase and run a lot of tests to ensure that a new version of the product works correctly. It led to an unacceptable product delivery timeline. 

Striving to simplify the pipeline, the company's software engineers came up with a revolutionary idea. They decided to decompose the monolith because of the benefits of microservices.

They thoroughly analyzed the codebase and allocated functional units that served the only purpose. Developers pulled the items out to create independent microservices and connected them using API integrations.

After this, they thoroughly analyzed all the product development processes. Amazon engineers started developing automation solutions to eliminate idle time in their pipeline.

Netflix

Netflix is one of the youngest microservices adopters. The first web app launched by the company was a monolith. The service became popular and started growing extremely fast. 

Hence, the company faces a lot of challenges with processing all the requests submitted by its customers. It led to many database failures.

The company decided to replace its on-premises database with a cloud-based solution from Amazon Web Services. Cloud servers can be easily scaled horizontally to get the required amount of resources required to process all the requests. 

Developers were required to decouple the monolith architecture to move the database to the cloud. After noticing the positive impact of using the dissociated architecture, the company spent two years switching from a monolithic architecture to microservices.

Uber

Uber was launched as a monolith with one codebase that handles all the processes. The monolithic architecture implied all the required functionality to connect drivers with passengers, process payments, manage trips, etc. 

When the company started growing at a high pace, it experienced a lot of challenges with scaling its services fast. The monolithic architecture needed developers to redeploy the codebase to implement new changes. Even minor changes affected the entire codebases, so it was necessary to conduct comprehensive testing to release new features. 

Bening unsatisfied with the number of developer resources and time every new feature consumed, the company decided to break their application into several microservices.

The solution helped the company to scale up different services like billing, trip management, driver management, and notifications independently. Developers don't have to examine and update the entire codebase to release minor updates.

WHEN TO CHOOSE MICROSERVICE ARCHITECTURE

Indeed, microservices have a lot of benefits that businesses value. However, a lot of companies start small with monolithic apps because it is easier and faster to release a monolith. 

Hence, microservices aren't the best solution that all companies have to adopt. Feel free to explore the most popular use scenarios when a business needs to use the microservice architecture.

The microservice architecture is the right choice if you:

  • expect your startup to grow at a high pace
  • are not satisfied with product development time
  • want to use various technologies
  • can afford to employ several teams of developers
  • strive to develop a highly reliable and failure-proof application
  • want to be capable of modernizing your app fast
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CONCLUSION

The microservice architecture is the best choice for large companies and enterprises that have to maintain the fast growth of their businesses. The core benefits of microservices are:

  • self-sufficiency
  • technical variety
  • scalability 
  • high sustainability
  • continuous delivery
  • minor changes are easier to implement
  • simplified onboarding


Due to the many advantages of microservices, roughly 81.5% of companies already use this architecture type. 17.5% of businesses plan to adopt the microservices architecture in the future.


What are the principles and advantages of the microservice architecture?

Microservices help develop dispersed architectures of applications. The main principle of the microservice architecture is using various services connected to an app using HTTP/HTTPS requests or API integrations.


The main advantages of microservices over the monolithic architecture are:

  • self-sufficiency
  • technical variety
  • scalability 
  • high sustainability
  • continuous delivery
  • minor changes are easier to implement
  • simplified onboarding
What are the main features of microservices?

Microservices applications have distinctive peculiarities that stand them out from the crowd. The main four features are:

  1. independent components
  2. decentralized approach
  3. great evolutionary
  4. failures resistance
What is the purpose of using microservices?

The main goal of using microservices is to break a monolithic app into distinctive parts. Each service can be built using various technologies, updated, and scaled independently. The decentralized approach helps develop failure-proof applications.

What are the disadvantages of microservices?

The main microservices challenges are:

  1. More complicated development — Software engineers have expertise in using various technologies and establishing connections between microservices
  2. Greater resource consumption — The development of the microservices architecture needs to involve a lot of various teams of software engineers
  3. Complicated development — In the case of using a large number of microservices, developers have to establish a lot of connections between an app’s parts
  4. Complicated testing — A system that consists of disparate parts built using various technologies needs to be tested thoroughly by QA engineers

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