Microservices, otherwise known as microservices architecture, refers to an architectural approach that is composed of many small services which are loosely coupled and independently deployed.  

This is unlike monolithic architecture, which is a traditional model that is built as a single service with all its processes tightly coupled. A small change made to any section of a monolithic application’s code would affect the entire system. Because of this, the code base grows and makes any modification to the features more complex. With microservices architecture, applications can be scaled easily and be more agile. 

Characteristics of Microservices 

Microservices are composed of multiple services that have their own unique database and data management model. The services are autonomous in which any updates to the existing service can be made without affecting the functionality of other services. Individual services use well-defined Application Programming Interface (API) to communicate with one another. 

Each service is built to specialize in addressing a specific problem. The services may be written in different programming languages and use different data storage techniques such that services do not have to share the same technology stack or framework, thus the development of systems can be flexible and scalable.  

Why do organizations need microservices? 

According to a survey by McKensey, more organizations today are transforming their business models by adopting digital technologies to meet new demands and to be economically viable. As organizations are taking the step towards digital transformation, one of the most common transitions would be from an on-premises server to cloud. While moving to cloud, microservices is a need for cloud-native applications. 

So, what are some reasons that organizations might consider microservices as a need for digital transformation?   

With microservices, only the service needed for the task will be activated. This reduces the need for the whole IT infrastructure to be deployed all the time, thus reducing the complications and cost of growth. In addition, more resources can be allocated to innovation as microservices enable teams to develop and test services in the application without affecting the other services. This allows organizations to manage and scale the applications easily, which helps companies easily modernize their IT infrastructure. 

Companies like Uber have adopted microservices architecture to overcome the challenges of a monolithic architecture. Uber’s platform had encountered challenges and complexity to efficiently make modifications, fix bugs and scale with the monolithic architecture. To overcome this, Uber had moved to a microservices architecture where they built individual microservices for services such as driver management, passenger management and trip management.  

Benefits of Microservices 

  • Agility. Microservices are deployed independently which enables the management of the service to be simpler – modifying a service (I.e., update, fixing a bug) can be done without redeploying the entire application. 
  • Scalability. Individual service is scaled independently to meet the demand for the application feature it supports, without scaling the entire application. 
  • Technological Freedom. A suitable mix of technologies is chosen for each service, to address specific problems.  
  • Resilience. Microservices allow services, which are autonomous, to be more resilient to failure when a service is down. The affected service will be isolated, and this will not cause the entire application to crash. 
  • Reusability. A service that provides a certain function can be a building block for another feature. Since codes and data are not shared, more features can be added easily. 

Building a microservices architecture does come along with challenges such as data integrity. Code and data schemas could be inadvertently disclosed, or internal implementation details could be leaked through APIs. Therefore, it is increasingly important to prevent sensitive data from being exposed through APIs and microservices. 

For more information on how to safeguard data through these channels, visit Entitlement Management for APIs & Microservices.