Traditionally, software design has been carried out with monolithic architecture, in which the software is structured in such a way that all functional aspects are coupled and subject to the same program. In this type of system, all the information is hosted on a server, so there is no separation between modules and the different parts of a program are closely coupled. This creates a long-term problem, as it is a system that is not easily scalable. That is why the microservices architecture appears.
Once the need for companies to make changes to the software and implement them easily and quickly has been detected, microservices are born. The idea was to divide the systems into individual parts, allowing problems to be treated and addressed independently without affecting the rest.
Thus, while in a monolithic architecture the software is developed as a single unit, a microservices architecture works with a set of small services that run autonomously and independently.
Today many developers are moving away from monolithic architectures to microservices, and many leading companies have already realized that microservices architecture is the best option for their organizations.
Now that we know why microservices appear, and what is the current situation of their use and application, let’s see a more complete and simple definition of an architecture of this type.
What is a microservices architecture?
The microservices architecture is a software application development method that works as a set of small services that run independently and autonomously, providing complete business functionality. In it, each microservice is a code that can be in a different programming language, and that performs a specific function. The microservices communicate with each other through APIs, and have their own storage systems, which avoids overload and application crash.
Microservices have created more adaptable and flexible IT infrastructures. Because if you want to modify only one service, it is not necessary to alter the rest of the infrastructure. Each of the services can be deployed and modified without affecting other services or functional aspects of the application.
Let’s see what advantages and disadvantages the application of a microservices architecture has compared to other types of architecture. These points must be taken into account when identifying what type of software architecture will be the best for a specific project or organization.
Advantage of microservices architecture
Modularity: being autonomous services, they can be developed and deployed independently.
Additionally, a failure in one service should not affect the ability of other services to continue working as expected.
Scalability: As a modular application, each part can be horizontally scaled as needed, increasing the scaling of modules that are more processing intensive.
Versatility: different technologies and programming languages can be used. This allows each functionality to be adapted to the most appropriate and profitable technology.
Speed of action: the small size of the microservices allows a less expensive development, as well as the use of “software containers” allows the deployment of the application to be carried out quickly.
Simple and cheap maintenance: by being able to make improvements to a single module and not having to intervene in the entire structure, maintenance is simpler and cheaper than in other architectures.
Agility: you can use typical functionalities (authentication, traceability, etc.) that have already been developed by third parties, it is not necessary for the developer to create them again.
Disadvantages microservices architecture
High memory consumption: as each microservice has its own resources and databases, they consume more memory and CPU.
Initial time investment: When creating the architecture, it takes more time to be able to fragment the different microservices and implement communication between them.
Management complexity: if we have a large number of microservices, it will be more difficult to control their management and integration. It is necessary to have a centralization of traces and advanced information processing tools that allow an overview of all microservices and orchestrate the system.
Developer Profile – Microservices require experienced developers with a very high level of expertise and thorough version control. In addition to knowledge about solving problems such as network latency or load balancing.
Non-uniformity: although having a different technological team for each of the services has its advantages, if it is not managed correctly, will lead to inconsistent application architecture and design.
Difficulty in testing: because the application components are distributed, global tests and tests are more complicated to perform.
High implementation cost: A microservices architecture can be a high implementation cost due to infrastructure costs and distributed testing.
Nowadays, thanks to containers like Docker and orchestrators like Kubernetes, it has been possible to change traditional web servers for much smaller and more adaptable virtual containers.
Taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of the implementation of a microservices architecture, the most important thing before deciding which architecture to choose, will be to determine which solution is the best suited to the needs of the project or organization and what will help achieve the proposed objectives.
It is clear that for leading companies such as Google, Amazon, Netflix or Uber, with large systems and with a lot of computational load, microservices are the best option. But before making the decision to implement a microservices architecture, there are several issues to consider. Such as: the number of end users, the volume of requests, the demand peaks, the size of the company and the equipment available, if you currently have a monolithic architecture, if there is someone on the team with the necessary experience or services must be contracted, etc.
A microservices architecture will make more sense the more diverse and larger the audience, and the larger the size of the organization, the team, and the services offered.
If you want to learn more about software architecture or want to know how we can help you decide, contact us and we will be happy to help you.