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Building and deploying microservice applications

How, when, and why to migrate from a monolithic to a microservice architecture

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Know how, when, and why to use microservices

It’s critical to understand the complexities and trade-offs microservices present. A microservice architecture is distributed, though not to the extent of an SOA. Such architectures are challenging to design and build. Also, remote calls may be slower and entail a higher risk of failure. Maintaining strong consistency is more tedious in a microservice system. It's necessary to form a mature operations team to manage a large set of services, many of which will be redeployed frequently.

For many small companies, beginning with a monolithic architecture for a new application may be simple, fast, and cheap (often the best approach for prototyping). Then, at some point, before the product grows too large or too complex, it may be worthwhile to migrate to microservices. To ensure high performance, high reliability, and dynamic scalability, large companies with thousands or (for some) millions of application users will benefit the most from employing a microservice architecture.

A microservice architecture tends to be superior to a monolithic equivalent when:

  • The development of complicated, multi-site, multi-system applications with longevity (i.e., not a one and done short-term application)

  • A rebuild of a legacy application in a modern programming language and a technology stack

  • A standalone business application or component that supports multiple business functions or other applications (e.g., authentication services and search services)

  • A highly innovative, dynamic application that exhibits a succession of feature updates, modern technologies, high customer expectations, and the ability to redeploy functions and features quickly

  • A monolithic application needing revamping to support a more efficient development pipeline (i.e., more scalability, agility, manageability, and delivery speed)

Any architectural decision must weigh the advantages and disadvantages. The strengths and weaknesses need to be evaluated in context and are especially important when considering a move toward microservices. As development trends continue to evolve, the debate over microservices versus conventional monoliths will only intensify. Ultimately, stakeholders and developers alike need to research, evaluate, and decide what is the best path forward for their company.