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What is Microservice Architecture?

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Are you trying to assess whether the microservice architecture is good for you? You need to first understand what is microservice architecture. We explain its characteristics and how microservices work. Furthermore, we explain its advantages and challenges. Read on.

Microservice architecture: What is it?

Microservice architecture is a software architecture pattern that consists of multiple independent services. These individual services are small and autonomous. An application using the microservice architecture is a collection of loosely coupled services.

Called “microservices”, each of these self-contained services offer distinct business capabilities. Each microservice has a bounded context, i.e., a natural division within that business. The bounded context of each microservice acts as a boundary, which makes each microservice distinct.

Characteristics of microservices

Microservices have the following characteristics:

  • They are small services. Microservices are independent and distinct. You can have small development teams create and maintain microservices.
  • Each microservice has distinct business rules. While they are within one larger business, different microservices might cater to different business processes. They might require diverse domain knowledge.
  • You have separate code bases for each microservice.
  • Since you have entirely independent services, they can be deployed independently. You don’t need to deploy the entire application when you deploy services.
  • You need to manage the persistent data storage independently for each microservice.
  • You can use different technology stacks for different services.
  • A microservice can communicate with another using well-defined APIs. The implementation details of one service don’t influence how other services communicate with it.

Components in microservice architecture apart from microservices

Microservices architecture might have the following components in addition to microservices:

  • An orchestration/management component: You can use this component to place services on nodes and rebalance them. Organizations often use orchestration tools like Kubernetes for this. You can use this component to identify system failures.
  • An API gateway: Clients use this API gateway instead of invoking services directly. The API gateway routes calls to relevant services based on the client’s request.

Why might you need microservices architecture?

You might have extensive familiarity with the monolithic architecture since most organizations developed monolithic applications. Monolithic applications become too complex over time. Adding new features becomes harder.

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You need to modify the code base for an entire application. Every enhancement requires testing the entire system. You find it hard to debug the code. Application support and maintenance become harder since fault isolation is harder.

Adopting microservices architecture offers agility. This application architecture enables you to develop and manage small and independent services. You can develop the business logic of one service independently from other services.

App development becomes simpler since you develop small services. You can offer new features quicker, which improves customer satisfaction. You can test and deploy a microservices application easily. Load balancing and scaling become easier, furthermore, application maintenance is easier.

Advantages of microservice architecture

Microservice architecture offers the following advantages:

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  • You become more agile in executing software development projects. You can quickly develop, test, and deploy a small service.
  • Enhancing an application becomes easier due to quicker coding, testing, and deployment.
  • Application maintenance becomes cheaper. Maintaining a small code base is easy.
  • You can use different programming languages and frameworks to develop different microservices. This provides flexibility.
  • Microservice architecture is suitable for developing cloud applications.
  • You can have separate and small application development teams. Such teams can focus exclusively on the microservice they develop.
  • You can scale your application easily. Different microservices might have different demand profiles. You can manage scalability differently for each microservice, and you can allocate more resources for high-demand services.
  • Each microservice has its own persistent data storage. Therefore, you can manage data isolation easily.
  • Supporting microservices is easier. You can achieve fault isolation easily. If one microservice has an issue, that doesn’t impact the other services.

Challenges in implementing microservices architecture

Implementing microservice architecture can be hard due to the following challenges:

  • Designing microservices can be hard since you must find independent services.
  • If there are interdependencies between microservices, then you need to manage them carefully.
  • You need a highly skilled and competent team. Microservices are distributed systems. Developing and managing them require skills.
  • Each microservice might be simple, however, an application using the microservice architecture is complex.
  • You might find it hard to test microservices with inter-services dependencies.
  • You need robust governance to manage the development of different microservices. Different teams might use different programming languages and frameworks. Robust governance is the key to managing the resulting complexities.
  • Long chains of inter-services dependencies can cause network congestion.
  • You need a highly mature DevOps culture in your organization to utilize the microservice architecture. We can’t overstate the importance of robust DevOps processes, methods, and tools here.
  • Microservices store their own persistent data. You need to exercise caution to maintain data integrity.

Best practices for implementing a microservice architecture

Keep the following best practices in mind when implementing microservice architecture:

  • You should design a microservice around a business domain.
  • Ensure that development teams for different microservices don’t share code or database schemas.
  • Implement suitable data storage and database management systems for each microservice. Keep them separate for each microservice.
  • Ensure that microservices communicate among themselves only via robustly-built APIs.
  • Don’t encourage coupling between microservices.
  • Don’t include business logic and domain knowledge when designing the API gateway. The API gateway should only handle client requests and route them.
  • Design a microservice so that it includes functions that are changed together.
  • Implement resiliency strategies to prevent a failure in one service from impacting other services.

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1. Which well-known companies use microservices architecture?

Netflix, Amazon, Uber, Groupon, Zalando, Coca-Cola, Spotify, SoundCloud, Karma, eBay, Etsy, and Comcast Cable are some of the prominent companies that use microservice architecture.

2. Which are the best books to learn the microservice architectural style?

The best books to learn microservices patterns are “Building Microservices” by Sam Newman, “Microservices Patterns” by Chris Richardson, and “Microservices – A Practical Guide” by Eberhard Wolff.

3. Which are the best training courses for microservices architectures?

The best training courses to learn microservice architecture are the Udemy course to master microservices with Spring Boot and Spring Cloud, the Pluralsight course on microservices architecture, and the Edureka microservices certification training course.


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