Microservice architecture is not a new approach in software development. It emerged in 2011 as an opposition to monolithic architecture as tech giants such as Netflix, Amazon, eBay, and others started adopting it and succeeded. Microservices claim to solve the issue of scalability and tangled codebases monolith architecture is prone to. However, the list of benefits doesn’t stop here. It is time to break up microservices to see what they are worth and whether you should consider them as a model in your development.
Microservices definition: the microservice architecture, as opposed to the monolithic one, is an approach that gets your application divided into small autonomous and independently deployed services, each focusing on a separate process and managed by smaller teams. The microservices-based architecture enables the fast and sustainable development of even complex and highly-innovative products with fewer engineers, which can become your competitive edge in the tech market today.
Nevertheless, it still has a lot of drawbacks that should be taken into account by young tech firms nurturing wet dreams about Netflix-scale success. Let’s cut to the chase.
Pros and cons of microservice architecture
Easier and faster deployment: The microservices development approach enables teams to work on separate services and add features and modules without having to redesign the whole application structure. Teams don’t have to wait for each other, which shortens TTM.
Easy-to-track codes: Every microservice focuses on one independent function with its separate codebase, which makes code easily comprehensible.
Languages and tools freedom: Since services are separate, engineers are free to choose a programming language and other tools that fit the context of their work best. This approach enables programmers to unleash their coding talents in full.
Easy-to-reuse templates of code: Microservice application enables coders to reuse previous codes for building additional features instead of coding them from the get-go.
Agile development: Microservices involve smaller teams independently working in smaller, easier-to-grasp contexts. Hence shorter development cycles, which translates into uncompromised agility.
Experiment freedom: Teams can make changes to the codes within their services without the risk of causing a ripple effect to the entire codebase. The cost of error is low, which helps teams test new approaches and come up with more innovative solutions.
Scaling flexibility: Every service can be scaled independently by adding, removing, or updating functionality without any disruptive effect on other services within the application. The classic microservices architecture example in the application scaling is when more computing power gets allocated to the service that experiences a seasonal demand increase.
Collapse resistance: If one of the services experiences a failure, it will be isolated quickly and won’t collapse the whole application as it would happen with a monolithic architecture.
Enhanced protection of sensitive data: Sensitive data is locked within its service and stays protected by reliable APIs during communications between the services in the application.
Safe outsourcing: When the need to outsource some functions rises, you can have complete peace of mind when it comes to your intellectual property. The microservice architecture enables you to “open” certain areas of application for your partners while keeping others closed.
Smaller teams: The most effective number of team members can be defined by the two-pizza principle popularized by Amazon, the pioneer of microservice architecture. A team should be as small as possible to be fed with only two pizzas.
Complicated integration testing: Due to the distributed nature of microservices, integration testing, as opposed to unit testing, becomes a headache. Engineers do not have access to the whole system for testing. It makes the microservices model unsuitable for untested applications.
The interface becomes decisive: Services require reliable communication between them, which increases the need for tons of various APIs unique to every service to handle this communication safely and efficiently. Such an interface becomes over-complicated and harder to manage due to this bundle of APIs.
Expensive start: While microservice architecture proves cost-efficient down the road, its integration into your development process can be expensive. It will require costs associated with advanced hosting services and the recruitment of skilled talent.
Impaired refactoring and redesigning capabilities: Unlike a monolith, microservices-based architecture isn’t suitable for products with a raw design as it makes further redesigning and refactoring quite complicated. So if you consider using microservices, tackle your design first.
When is microservice architecture unnecessary?
As you can see, microservices have some disadvantages and can be too challenging to employ for young, unprepared brands. After all, most bright examples of microservices development that inspire you, such as Twitter or Airbnb, adopted the microservices model only after they outgrew their monolith architecture. So when is the microservices model a bad idea?
- If you don’t have any system built yet (Microservices isn’t a good architecture for starting up. All successful examples of microservices are brands that grew huge and then were split using microservices).
- If you don’t have a sound and polished design.
- If you don’t need to scale up any time soon, which is true for most startups.
- If you build on-premises software that enables an individual user configuration.
- If your monolith system works well.
The main trends of microservice architecture in 2023
The market size of microservices architecture is growing crazily worldwide. It has crossed the threshold of $4.4 billion back in 2022 and is expected to reach $5.3 billion in 2023. For the nearest future, the forecast is even brighter: $10.9 billion by 2027. The most popular niches of microservices applications are retail, telecommunications, IT, and healthcare.
Here are some of the trends the market is facing now:
- Increased reliance on containers: Tools like Kubernetes become increasingly popular as they simplify building, testing, effective deployment, and scaleup of microservices.
- Going serverless: The advancement of microservices in cloud computing, such as Azure microservices architecture or Google Cloud, enabled a safe and sound exodus from servers.
- APIs: The use of microservices dictates the demand for a reliable API gateway for handling between-the-services communication. AWS microservices architecture (aka AWS Lambda) is one of the leaders in the industry.
- Event-focused microservices: Event-driven types of microservices enable fast reactions to various events, which improves resilience and consistency across your services.
What can we expect in the future from microservice architecture?
We are likely to see more fantastic examples of microservices applications as microservices become a point of power for many mature brands. Microservices are a solid and comprehensive approach for businesses with developed scale-up processes and robust engineering cultures. Not all of them will overcome the compromised testing and design possibilities of microservices, but we will definitely see more and more completely serverless models in the upcoming years.
Microservices still yield to monoliths in the simplicity of management and speed of from-scratch development. So it is highly unlikely that microservices will replace monoliths completely in the near future, at least for brands that are just starting up.