Microservices — a distinctive method of developing software systems and a departure from traditional, monolithic models — has grown in popularity in recent years as PaaS and IaaS solutions have evolved. It has quickly become the preferred method for many developers who are involved in the creation of enterprise applications and proponents of the DevOps philosophy.
While many businesses remain reluctant to migrate legacy applications to digital environments, the enterprise has begun to understand the necessity to explore the possibilities offered by cloud-based and hybrid architectures in 2018.
Many consider microservices to be superior to the monolith approach, as it breaks down a businesses’ applications into loosely-tethered, modular services. This is an ideal structure for companies that have to enable support for a range of platforms and devices, including anything from web and mobile platforms, to wearables and other IoT-connected devices.
The increased level of scalability offered by microservices, especially when coupled with a containerized environment and APIs, is an enticing option for the growing number of startups eager to disrupt.
The pioneers of microservices
Amazon is usually the first company that comes to mind when microservices are mentioned, as AWS has capitalized on the emergence of the “as a service” business model. It’s hard to believe that Amazon began as a monolithic application 10 years ago, running code on a web server that connected to a database on the back end.
The introduction of microservices was a direct response to arguably the most common business problem: scalability. Front-end applications operating through a monolithic architecture can function incredibly well to a point, but as the complexity of a software ecosystem increases, it is unable to evolve on a single system.
Amazon’s departure from the monolith to a service-oriented architecture allowed the business to isolate specific functions and build out many software components rapidly and independently, as it was no longer forced to share front- and back-end process across the entire company. This is the true power of microservices, as Amazon has now grown into hundreds of services and application servers, including its seller interface — AWS’s interface — and the countless third-party sites that run on Amazon’s platform.
Netflix is another glaring example of the success implementing microservices can have on a business, as well as how beneficial digital partnerships and ecosystems can be. Netflix moved to a service-oriented architecture in 2008, utilizing its relationship with AWS to build out a service architecture that would isolate code corruptions such as the ones it had experienced earlier that year.
Its departure from a monolithic and vertical model created Netflix as we know it today: the cloud-based streaming service that has experienced massive growth in the past 10 years, expanding services across the globe. It receives more than one billion calls every day, which is only possible because of the architecture put in place in 2007.
PayPal, eBay, Twitter and many other businesses have also experienced success through microservices. With early adopters paving the way for businesses in 2018, even more traditional enterprise companies are buying into digital transformation, microservices and containerized environments.
The future of microservices in business
The popularity of microservices has continued to increase because they help solve many of the current IT challenges businesses face. Giving companies the ability to isolate applications to be run by small, lean development teams, a microservices-based architecture can increase speed, reliability and scalability of applications through continuous delivery and deployment. These are cornerstones of the DevOps philosophy, which is arguably becoming the standard for business operations.
Microservices match well with other advancements in this service-oriented, agile approach, such as the growing emphasis and dependence on containerized environments for hosting applications. This ties directly to the idea of serverless computing, with third-party companies, such as Amazon, beginning to host and manage the core components of a business on their platforms.
Judging solely by the increased interest in the term microservices in the past three-to-four years, it is safe to say more businesses, and people in general, are aware of its importance. Although more businesses will undoubtedly move to microservices in 2018, companies must still take careful considerations when moving core business functions to the relatively new concept of a microservices-oriented architecture.
Similar to the way companies should be taking careful consideration before choosing an ecosystem and entering a binding digital partnership, implementing any type of new architecture will have long-tail effects that may not become evident for several years. It’s easy to point to Amazon and Netflix as clear indicators that microservices are vastly superior to a monolithic model, but the sample size is still relatively small.
That being said, microservices do seem to solve many of the issues presented by the monolith. The key for businesses in 2018 is to focus on the level of talent at their disposal, how well their software systems fit into their business components and — something that continues to be discussed when talking about digital platforms — how to nurture digital partnerships that breed a successful ecosystem.
Microservices predictions 2018
- Increase in API-driven microservices: Many businesses, especially in the enterprise, are still heavily reliant on monolithic architectures and vertical deployments of legacy applications. More companies will move to hybrid-cloud or digitized environments with a combination of the speed offered by APIs and microservices.
- Microservices and containers will rise together: They really go hand in hand, but both microservices and containerization will experience a greater level of adoption than in previous years, and both markets will expand significantly.
- Microservices will slow cybersecurity attacks: With so much buzz around cybersecurity incidents like the Equifax breach, the push to further foil hackers will continue. The ability to isolate deployment environments through microservices could potentially limit the damage from cyber infiltrations.
- Reluctant companies will lose ground: This has arguably been happening for the past several years, but businesses unwilling to depart from a monolithic architecture will begin to lose more ground on their competitors.
Microservices are becoming a mainstay in the business environment by providing companies the ability to increase speed, predict performance and scale rapidly. As more and more businesses implement a microservices-oriented environment, it should paint a clearer picture of just how beneficial microservices are.