A new trend that we see in DevOps teams is the adoption of microservices, where big and complex applications are broken down into independent and small processes and services. These microservices can communicate with each other through application programming interfaces (APIs). By breaking a monolith into microservices, developers are able to handle applications better, isolate problem areas without shutting the whole application down and focus on completing singular tasks.
While switching to microservices seems like a rather easy task, many developers can underestimate the complexity of the migration process, and that can eventually lead to disastrous results. That is why, before transforming your application’s monolithic architecture into microservices, it’s important to set out best practices to avoid any challenges which might arise during the process.
Here are the best practices for microservices that you should know about
1- Understand why do you want to migrate to microservices
Just switching to a microservice architecture because it is the latest technology may not do your organization any good. Switching to microservices can take months depending on your application’s size, and it can also be expensive since you will have to train your resources or hire new DevOps to handle the migration.
After all, if you have a working application that works just fine, then why disrupt that by changing the architecture? There has to be a driving force for the change.
Whether you are facing issues with your application or you want to make it faster, the reason has to be big enough for you to make the shift.
2- Define what a microservice is
Before planning a strategy for microservices, you need to define what exactly a microservice will entail in your application’s architecture. Depending on your business requirements, you might want to go for medium-sized services, if bigger services align with your business vertical and engineering teams better.
One way to determine the size of a microservice is checking which pieces of code, when changed, create exponential test cases. It’s crucial to have a clear idea about what microservices, services, and functions look like for your company, because if you don’t, then you could end up with either of these problems:
- Your application gets under fragmented, and you are not able to see any benefits of microservices
- Your application gets over fragmented, and the weight of managing the numerous microservices takes away its value as a whole
3- Create isolation between microservices at several levels
By isolating microservices from each other, you are able to change them as quickly as possible. Isolation needs to be done at several levels, including:
Runtime processes: One of the most common ways of isolation is differentiating microservices according to runtime processes. This could involve various http management approaches, event architectures, containerization, service meshes, and circuit breakers.
Teams: By partitioning your application, you are able to partition work among teams in a more well-defined manner and give autonomy to the team members as well.
Data: Of course the biggest advantage of implementing a distributed computing technology like microservices is that your data gets partitioned and it re-integrates at the system level.
4- Decide how services will find and communicate with each other
As you are building and deploying microservices separately, you also need to remember that these microservices need to be able to communicate with each other to create a logical workflow and finished application, which from the user’s perspective should look the same as the monolithic application.
While many developers try to hard code the locations of microservices in the source code, it can lead to an array of problems when the location of any of these services need to change. Better alternatives to this problem include a centralized router or a service discovery protocol since both require registration, deregistration, scalability, and high availability.
With service discovery, automatic detection of services becomes possible, and the router is able to work between systems to direct one service towards another. It is the responsibility of service discovery to tell where things are, while centralized router proxies all the traffic.
5- Selecting the right technology
While many companies spend a lot of time selecting the right technology to implement microservices, the truth is, it is rather overvalued. That is because most of the modern computing languages are equally flexible and fast. Most importantly, almost any problem can be solved with any technology.
While all languages have their pros and cons, the decision really comes down to personal preferences and not technical reasoning.
Though choosing a language for implementing microservices will become a hiring decision since you will need developers on board who are comfortable working with that language. That is why it’s also recommended not to mix too many programming languages, as it could make hiring people rather difficult.
Switching to microservice architecture can lead to many challenging. Before you start the migration process, make sure you have real reasons for it, take an incremental approach, and follow all the best practices.