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Microservices Architecture Diagram Examples

Estimated read time: 16 minutes
Jamie Maguire

Jamie Maguire

WriterFull Stack DeveloperSTEM Ambassador

Want to learn more about microservices architecture diagram examples?

You’ve come to the right place.

Understanding the fine details of the microservice architecture diagram is vital if you are going to build a great web or mobile product.

It certainly makes sense to evaluate the “Microservice Architecture” with examples and diagrams since it has become an important pattern.

You must consider application architecture when designing your application. Why should you do so? Well, over the years, many different software development paradigms have come and gone. A constant theme, however, has been the need to componentize software systems in a modular way.

You gain many benefits if you modularize an entire system. You will find it easier to understand and follow the source code, and programmers can easily visualize the codebase.

Modularizing also helps developers to know where they should look for defects. As a result, you can maintain your software with relative ease.

If you architect software systems well, then they scale better. This helps immensely when you have more users for your application.

You can also manage your development process better if you architect the software well. New developers can easily learn such a system, therefore, they become productive quickly. A well-architected software also follows the application coding standards. This further improves your productivity.

There are many approaches to architecting software projects such as N-Tiered, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), or Microservice Architecture to name a few.  In this post, however, aimed at software developers, development managers, and CTOs we specifically look at the Microservices Architecture diagram.

By the time you’ve read this blog post you’ll have a solid understanding of what microservice architecture is, its benefits, if you should consider it and how to go about structuring an application to adopt this architectural paradigm, so let’s get started!

What is Microservice Architecture?

A diagram depicting Microservice architecture

In the past decades, applications have been developed in a monolith fashion, coded from top to bottom as one single unit, sometimes with no real structure or thought for future maintenance which can cause a range of problems. 

Poorly architected software solutions can also be problematic to debug or extend with new features and in general, aren’t very nice to work on.

Microservice architecture is a form of service-oriented architecture (SOA) whereby software applications are built as a collection of loosely coupled separate services, as opposed to one monolithic software application. 

Each microservice can be created and deployed independently from the other, or even in a completely different programming language, and run on its own.

At the core of it all, each microservice tries to satisfy the specific user story or business requirement that you’re working on.

It is an ideal architectural design pattern in today’s ever-increasing interconnected world and helps support multiple platforms and devices that can span the cloud, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), and even wearable devices.

A popular way to implement microservices is to use protocols such as HTTP/REST alongside JSON, as an architectural design pattern, we’re seeing a lot of the main SaaS providers adopt microservices into their solutions and services.

From Microsoft to IBM and much more, software vendors and service providers are implementing the microservice architecture. 

Major players like Twitter, Netflix, eBay, and Amazon have also favored microservice architecture as it helps with the development, scalability, and continuous delivery of their multiple services.  This brings us to some of the benefits of microservices architecture.

Benefits of Microservice Architecture

An infographic explaining the difference between the Microservices approach and the traditional approach

As an architectural practice, microservice architecture has been growing in popularity in recent years, this is down to the benefits that it can bring software development teams and the enterprise. 

As software increased in complexity, being able to componentize functional areas in the application into sets of independent (micro) services can yield many benefits, which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • More efficient debugging – no more jumping through multiple layers of an application, in essence, better fault isolation.
  • Accelerated software delivery – multiple programming languages can be used thereby giving you access to a wider developer talent pool.
  • Easier to understand the codebase – increased productivity as each service represents a single functional area or business use case.
  • Scalability – componentized microservices naturally lend themselves to being integrated with other applications or services via industry-standard interfaces such as REST.
  • Fault tolerance – reduced downtime due to more resilient services.
  • Reusability – as microservice are organized around business cases and not a particular project, due to their implementation, they can be reused and easily slotted into other projects or services, thereby reducing costs.
  • Deployment – as everything is encapsulated into separate microservices, you only need to deploy the services that you’ve changed and not the entire application.  A key tenet of microservice development is ensuring that each service is loosely coupled with existing services.

But don’t just take our word for it, here are some real-world examples of microservices in action and how this architectural design pattern has benefited Walmart and Amazon.

Microservice Architecture in Action in the Real World

microservice architecture diagram

Here we explore how adopting a microservices architecture diagram as a software architecture could add real business value and bring a whole range of benefits to Amazon and Walmart.

Microservices rescue Walmart’s aging software architecture

The Canadian arm of retail giant Walmart had serious issues with its existing software architecture, especially around Black Friday – for two consecutive years.  At its peak, the Walmart site couldn’t handle 6 million page views per minute and ultimately made it practically impossible for visitors to have any positive sort of user experience.

Part of the problem was that Walmart’s software architecture was designed for the Internet of 2005 which was centered around desktops and laptops.  The use of mobile, smart, and IoT devices hadn’t fully peaked back then. 

The firm decided to re-platform its legacy system in 2012 using microservices and has set a target by 2020 to be able to service 4 billion connections!

By migrating to a microservices architecture, Walmart identified that:

  • Mobile orders increased by 98% –
  • Zero downtime on Black Friday and Boxing Day (Canadas Black Friday)
  • Conversions increased by 20%

Amazon

Amazon the retail and now logistics giant is no stranger to delivering software at scale. Rob Birgham, senior AWS Product Manager shared a story of how microservice architecture was used in conjunction with DevOps.

Back in the early 2000’s Amazon’s site was developed as one, big, monolith solution, and to be fair, a lot of businesses started out that way.

Over time, however, as functional areas were built and the platform grew, the job of integrating all this work from multiple teams of developers started to impact overall productivity.

Days or sometimes whole weeks were dedicated to merging developer changes into a master version of the product, merge conflicts had to be resolved which again, all had an impact on productivity.

Realizing quickly that operating like this wasn’t sustainable, Amazon took the decision to decouple its monolith codebase by adopting a microservice architecture.  Each service was responsible for a single purpose and was accessible through web service APIs.

Once this exercise was complete, this paved the way for Amazon to create a highly decoupled architecture where each service could operate independently – providing each developer adhered to the respective web service interface definitions.

Netflix

Netflix uses the Microservice architecture pattern to great effect. The company had a monolithic architecture and its datacentre aligned with it.

In 2008, Netflix was still using its monolithic architecture. A program had a missing semicolon, and the effect of that was substantial. This single bug brought down the Netflix website, and it took several hours to recover from it.

That’s not surprising given the monolithic architecture has various components coupled together tightly. One error in one component can significantly impact the entire software. Naturally, Netflix needed its engineers from all areas to take part in troubleshooting when something went wrong.

Around the same time, Netflix noticed how they were finding it hard to scale. The popularity of Netflix was growing, however, the company wasn’t able to build data centers fast enough. This limitation had started to hamper its growth.

Netflix started to transition from its monolithic architecture in 2009. We in the development community weren’t even using the term “microservice” at that time, however, Netflix took the plunge!

The company began its transition to AWS cloud-based microservice architecture. In the beginning, Netflix moved an application that wasn’t a customer-facing one.

This was a smart decision since the company needed to contain the impacts if anything was to go wrong with the move.

The first to move was the movie encoding application, and the move was successful. Subsequently, Netflix started to move various customer-facing functions to AWS. This included its functions like account sign-up, movie selections, TV selections, etc. The company achieved success with these too.

Netflix completed its move to the microservice architecture by December 2011. With this move, Netflix now had hundreds of microservices instead of the giant monolith application that they had earlier.

As of December 2015, the Netflix microservice architecture featured an API gateway that handled 2 billion API requests daily. You can read about this transition in “Why you can’t talk about microservices without mentioning Netflix”.

Challenges of Microservice Architecture

microservice architecture diagram

As with every new software programming architecture, each has a list of pros and cons, it’s not always peaches and cream and microservices aren’t an exception to this rule and it’s worth pointing some of these out.

  • Too many coding languages – yes, we listed this as a benefit, but it can also be a double-edged sword.  Too many alternative languages, in the end, could make your solution unwieldy and potentially difficult to maintain.
  • Integration – you need to make a conscious effort to ensure your service are as loosely coupled as they possibly can be, otherwise, if you don’t, you’ll make a change to one service which has a ripple effect with additional services thereby making service integration difficult and time-consuming.
  • Integration test – testing one monolithic system can be simpler as everything is in “one solution”, whereas a solution based on microservices architecture may have components that live on other systems and/or environments thereby making it harder to configure an “end-to-end” test environment.
  • Communication – microservices naturally need to interact with other services, each service will depend on a specific set of inputs and return specific outputs, these communication channels need to be defined into specific interfaces and shared with your team.  Failures between microservices can occur when interface definitions haven’t been adhered to which can result in lost time.

So now that we’ve talked about what microservice architecture is, what some of its benefits are, and look at a few examples of microservice architecture in the real world as well as the benefits of this paradigm, you might be wondering if microservices architecture is for you or your software project and it’s a valid question to ask.

Should You Adopt Microservice Architecture?

You don’t want to implement a microservice architecture in your project just for the sake of it, so we’ve put together some points to consider that will help you decide if that architectural pattern is right for you or your project.

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you might want to consider implementing a microservice-based architecture:

  • Is your current application monolith and difficult to maintain?
  • Do you anticipate that your application will have to deal with high volumes of traffic?
  • Are modularisation and code reusability the main priority?
  • Does your application need to be accessed on multiple device types such as mobile, IoT, and web?
  • Do specific areas in your application need to be able to scale on demand?
  • Are you looking to improve your software product build and release process?

If you answer yes to most of these, however, you can probably get away with a traditional monolithic application architecture:

  • Do you just need to ship an MVP to test the market?
  • Do you already have a stable product/team that will continue to work on the product until you retire it?
  • Is your product “in the wild”, generating revenue and the user community is happy? If so, no sense in reinventing the wheel.

Sample Microservices Architecture Diagram

microservices architecture diagram

Now that we’ve introduced the microservice architecture, discussed some of the benefits, and respective challenges, and looked at a few examples of how microservices have been deployed in the real world, it’s time to look at a basic microservice in terms of its architecture and how it can be designed. 

In the image above, you can see the following 3 microservices:

  • Account Service
  • Inventory Service
  • Shipping Service

As this microservices architecture diagram shows, each microservice is accessed in one of two ways in this fictitious application:

  • From an API gateway (via a mobile app)
  • From a Web application (via the user’s web browser)

Note: There could be theoretically may be more as the architecture lends itself to that.

You can see that each microservice also exposes a dedicated REST API, this is the interface that defines the operations that can be executed against the respective microservices and will detail the data structures, data types, or POCOSs that can be passed into the microservice as well as its return types. 

For example, the Inventory service REST API definition may contain an endpoint called GetAllProducts which allows consumers of the microservice to fetch all products in the e-commerce store, this could return a list of Product objects as JSON, XML, or even C# POCO.

As each microservice has its own set of responsibilities and can only ever interact with its respective database, a solution architected like this makes it easier for more than one developer to make changes to the system. 

By implementing a microservice like the one we’ve just detailed, you will gain some of the benefits that we outlined earlier.

As you roll out an architecture using this approach, it’s important to ensure that each microservices architecture example can operate completely independently, otherwise, it defeats the purpose of pursuing this architectural approach.

Best practices you should consider when implementing the microservices architecture diagram

How would you implement the microservice architecture effectively? I recommend that you seriously consider the following best practices:

  • Determine if this architecture pattern works for you.
  • Define your microservices carefully.
  • When you design your microservices, use “Domain-Driven Design” (DDD).
  • Get buy-in from the senior leadership in your organization since a transition to the microservice architecture can be hard.
  • Use RESTful APIs since they can help you to implement this architecture pattern. Remember to design your APIs based on their domain, and document the APIs well.
  • Organize your team around your microservices.
  • Plan for separate data storage for each microservice.
  • Invest in high-quality DevOps and application monitoring solutions.

Wondering how you can learn more about these best practices? Our guide “10 best practices for building a microservice architecture” is just what you need!

Additional considerations and factors when implementing the microservice architecture pattern

We talked about the microservice architecture pattern in detail, where we covered its pros and cons. We reviewed the best practices that you should consider while implementing this architectural style. Furthermore, we reviewed a few examples of businesses implementing it.

While that covers the basics, there are a few more considerations and factors. These are as follows:

1. Consider using Kubernetes when implementing the microservice architecture pattern

Kubernetes, the popular open-source container-orchestration system can help in implementing the microservice architecture pattern. Do you have a complex application with multiple microservices? You will find the implementation easier with Kubernetes.

Kubernetes helps you to improve infrastructure utilization across individual services. Remember that implementing Kubernetes requires a high degree of expertise. Leading cloud computing platforms provide it though, which can help.

2. Planning to implement the microservice architecture using Spring Boot? Find a good tutorial first.

Spring Boot enjoys plenty of popularity, and there are good reasons for it! This is an open-source framework based on Java. You can create a microservices-based app using this framework. However, you need competent developers for this.

Ideally, you should look for programmers that have this experience. Find a good tutorial if you can’t find such developers.

3. Remember that you have the flexibility of using your choice of the technology stack

You need to remember a key advantage of the microservice pattern. You can use different technology stacks for different services, which offers flexibility.

Your organization might have different business capabilities, and you are building microservices for them. The ability to use different technologies allows you to optimally utilize your development teams. You can have different teams handling the entire lifecycle of different microservices.

You don’t need to develop an entire application in one rigid sequence since different teams can work on different microservices.

Choose an appropriate technology stack depending on the functionality. This flexibility can help a startup company significantly by expediting the project.

E.g., you can use .NET for one or more microservices. Use Java, Node.js, etc. for the other microservices. Microsoft offers a useful microservices guide in this regard. This guide explains how you can use Docker containers too.

4. Deploying microservices for your proposed application system

When you choose the microservices pattern, you need to carefully consider the various deployment options. These options are as follows:

  • Deploying every microservice on its virtual machine (VM);
  • Using containers like Docker for deployment;
  • Using a container orchestration system like Kubernetes;
  • Utilizing the “Functions-as-a-Service” approach to deploy microservices.

Study your project requirements carefully to choose the appropriate option.

5. Hiring an architect with knowledge of how a distributed system works

A software architect will play an important part in implementing the microservice architecture pattern in your project. You need an architect with knowledge of distributed systems.

Effectively, microservices are distributed systems. Each microservices run on different computers on the network. Services communicate between themselves via messaging.

Implementing the microservice architecture involves several challenges faced in distributed computing. The following are a few examples:

  • Adaptive routing;
  • Fault tolerance;
  • Synchronization;
  • Self-healing;
  • Service discovery;
  • Network splits.

Look for an architect that knows distributed systems very well.

6. Implement automation effectively in testing when implementing the microservices architecture diagram

A key advantage of using microservices architecture is that it helps you to automate your testing process. Proactively implement automation in your testing process, and cover all of the following:

  • Unit testing;
  • Contract testing;
  • Integration testing;
  • End-to-end testing;
  • Functional testing.

Onboard a test lead with enough knowledge of test automation.

7. Focus on managing dependencies while implementing the microservice architecture

You need an architect with great knowledge of managing dependencies when implementing a microservice architecture. Managing dependencies becomes important since it allows you to manage the following:

  • Service-level objectives (SLOs);
  • High-fidelity testing;
  • Data integrity;
  • Disaster recovery.

8. Should you plan for asynchronous communication while implementing the microservices architecture diagram?

Whether you plan for synchronous or asynchronous communication between components while implementing the microservices architecture depends on your project. E.g., an application involving plenty of “Read” operations should use synchronous communication.

On the other hand, an application with many “Write” operations should use asynchronous communication. Study your project requirements meticulously before deciding.

9. Plan for databases carefully when implementing the microservices architecture

How you strategize about databases makes a key difference when implementing the microservices architecture. You need to choose the right databases, and you need to implement them carefully.

Plan to have separate databases for each microservice. You need to make your proposed system scalable, therefore, choose databases appropriately. The following are a few popular choices:

  • Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMSs): You can consider popular SQL databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.;
  • Document databases: You can explore popular NoSQL databases like MongoDB.

Planning to Use a Microservices Architecture Diagram for Your Next Project?

So, there you have it, an overview of Microservices architecture.  In this blog post, we’ve looked at microservices architecture, we covered the key concepts, the benefits this architectural design pattern can bring to the enterprise, and how it can help software development professionals better structure their products.

We’ve also outlined the main components of an application that adopts a microservice architectural pattern and give you some ideas as to why you might want to introduce microservices to your project.

In case you do, it’s best to hire expert developers capable of building an exceptional product. Feel free to contact us at DevTeam.Space by sending your initial software project requirements via this form. One of our account managers will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Microservices Architecture Diagram

1. What is microservice architecture?

Microservice architecture is a variant of service-oriented architecture. It breaks down applications into a framework of interconnected functions or services.

2. How does microservice architecture work in simple words?

It is an architecture that creates a logical breakdown of applications into their components and functions according to the business rules.

3. Why do we need a microservices architecture diagram?

The microservice architecture allows for application mapping that helps to create more logical applications that run faster and with better reliability.


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