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Top 8 DevOps Trends for 2021

Top 8 DevOps Trends for 2021

To say the least, 2020 was full of challenges and disruptions for almost any business industry. However, many companies were saved behind such shields as AI, ML, DevOps, and cloud technologies. Automation of routine office work, on-premise processes, and other manual tasks became a must-have during the COVID-19 times.

Thus, Profisea decided to explore major cloud computing trends to help you better prepare for your business automation journey in 2021.

The bright future of DevOps engineering

As one of the major players in the adoption of automation culture, DevOps came to the rescue when we needed it most. Adjusting to ‘the new normal’ way of work, enterprises quickly adopted rapid automation of everything related to CI/CD pipelines, testing, infrastructure provisioning, operations, production, analytics, advanced cloud computing, and monitoring.  IDC study showed that the worldwide DevOps tools market keeps demonstrating growth every year. It was estimated at $5.2 billion in 2018, and the forecast says it will reach $15 billion by 2023. Going back in time, several years ago DevOps was hardly considered a serious game-changer. Now, the organization-wide adoption of DevOps increased from ten percent in 2017 to seventeen percent in 2018.

The pandemic positively impacted the state of DevOps in 2020

The public and private cloud companies have flooded the global market this year. The investors have poured nearly $9.5 billion in private cloud companies in Israel and Europe alone. This tendency indicates the growth of funding close to 30 percent compared with previous years.

The Accelerated Strategies Group and CloudBees research also revealed some interesting statistics. The study discovered that due to the lockdown limitations the need for business automation investments increased by 61.6 percent, and 52 percent of companies sped up their acceleration to the cloud, focusing on DevOps initiatives.

DevOps Trends to Follow in 2021

It’s safe to assume that the future of work will heavily depend on robust artificial intelligence and DevOps engineering. More and more organizations will benefit from it by following a holistic approach and seeking agility, speed, flexibility. To achieve these goals and deliver high-quality products to clients faster, they will need a dynamic DevOps strategy and an appropriate set of tools.

How to choose the right path? Here are some tips.

#1 Artificial intelligence and machine learning will empower DevOps

Another IDC report, titled “Worldwide Artificial Intelligence Spending Guide,” revealed that 75 percent of enterprise applications will be using various forms of artificial intelligence in 2021. AI and ML will optimize the test cases and revolutionize and foster DevOps practices’ future growth.

Utilizing AI’s ability to handle the massive data sets, enterprises will enhance their DevOps framework’s efficiency and performance index. Any issues or problems you might be having during infrastructures’ automation will be solved much faster and with less effort. What’s more, AI and ML accelerate deployment without breaking up a continuous delivery cycle.

#2 Cloud-native environment — the road to advancements and innovations

The reliable DevOps market trends for 2021 include cloud-native development. It means having a container-based ecosystem for all your architecture and infrastructure elements. Cloud computing helps to create the dynamic development cycle with faster deployments, improved scalability and visibility across all platforms.

Moreover, this technology shortens time to market, which grants a competitive advantage and ensures business resilience. Cloud-native DevOps is projected to reach $530 billion in spendings. Eighty percent of enterprise applications will shift toward hyper-agile architectures and cloud infrastructures by 2025.

#3 The rise of container registry tools

Container instruments like Kubernetes have been around for a while now, so it’s no surprise that the DevOps field in 2021 will see the rise of container registry services. This technology helps you store and manage the artifacts and cover all dependencies for a smooth SDLC. Using containers, one can faster deliver updates, switch between programming frameworks, and even improve collaboration between all parties involved in the DevOps processes.

#4 DevSecOps: security and observability are a matter of the utmost priority

In the new world of remote operations, cloud cybersecurity is essential to consider. DevSecOps approach combines best practices of keeping a focus on security and observability in all areas of software development, delivery, and operations. Which, in turn, mitigates risks and minimizes the vulnerabilities in the delivered applications.

DevSecOps bridges a security awareness gap between IT and business sides. It allows identifying cyber threats at the early stages of development and cutting the costs for fixing the issues. The DevSecOps market is forecasted to reach $5.9 billion by 2023.

#5 Distributed cloud — public cloud for location independence

According to Gartner, distributed cloud (DC) is the future of cloud. While this technology distributes cloud services between different physical locations, the public cloud provider will still be responsible for their operation, governance, maintenance, and evolution. You can benefit from DC by avoiding latency issues and data protection regulations, at the same time reducing expenses on complicated and location-dependent private cloud solutions.

The DC types:

  • On-premises public cloud;
  • Global network edge cloud;
  • IoT edge cloud;
  • 5G mobile edge cloud.

#6 The ascension of DevTestOps to improve SDLC

Even while being one of the newest DevOps trends for 2021, this QA automation approach most likely will flourish across early and end-to-end testing. Continuous testing practices are closely entwined with the DevOps workflow, aiming to improve the product’s quality and eliminate business risks. As a synergy of development, testing, and operations, DevTestOps covers the vast scope of QA activities, cybersecurity threats, and market impact. By adopting DevTestOps, you can spend more time on innovations rather than bug fixing.

#7 Increased demand for microservices

Microservices and DevOps have become synonymous long ago. If you need the most scalable, distributed, and flexible architecture for your platform, microservices are the solution. They provide such a significant advantage as the possibility to build and deploy new components rapidly. And the entire application won’t fall apart when one team changes some part of it. With device- and platform-agnostic microservices, you can adjust to the constantly evolving market and emerging customers’ needs.

#8 Rise of the DevOps assembly lines

The main idea behind this trend is automating and connecting numerous activities performed by several teams involved in a production cycle. An assembly line glues together various Dev, Sec, Test, and Ops tasks into streamlined and optimized, event-driven workflows. Simply put, a DevOps assembly line is a “pipeline of pipelines.” It orchestrates automation and consistent delivery with higher interoperability, and much more.

To recap

As terrible as it was, 2020 has accelerated the rapid growth of the DevOps and cloud computing industry. Various trends have emerged in record time, and we’ve reviewed just a handful of them. The only thing left to say is that 2021 will be revolutionary in terms of work and business operations. And the DevOps movement will keep growing exponentially to become mainstream in the era of all things remote.

Handling Security in Microservices Ecosystem

Handling Security in Microservices Ecosystem

When it comes to microservices applications, appropriately dealing with security measures is highly important. As microservices-based software is a composition of decentralized and loosely-coupled services, you risk facing tangible security threats. Especially when your app is deployed on a cloud platform. That’s why today we’re discussing some extra precautions you have to consider while creating a microservices ecosystem.

Security in Microservices: 3 Main Things to Remember

Following our course on Microservices basics, you already know the specifics of microservice architecture, particularly the need to use API gateways as a single entry point for client requests. Its purpose is to provide a secure communication passage between numerous app’s services and a client-side by authenticating requests and forwarding them to appropriate services that can, in turn, invoke other required services.

The problem to solve from the security concept’s side is how to verify the identity of a client and pass it to the service that would handle a particular request?

1. Authentication and Authorization

These are the two terms we use for the components of the system that enforce the control over access rights to services and apply the security policies.

The authentication technology determines whether a client is who or what it states itself to be. If the client’s credentials successfully match the credentials in an app’s database of authorized users or a data authentication server, the identification process is passed. Then, the authentication component provides a client or a service with access control for other services or permission to make calls to them. The most common example of authentication technology is the login and password form.

So, to communicate with each other and external clients securely, each of your app’s services has to have a unique identity to be authenticated and authorized as a single entity. It’s not an easy task to accomplish – your system might have hundreds of microservices of various sizes and levels of digitalization.

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Authorization is the process of determining who to grant the privileges of use and permission to do something inside the system. Basically, it’s who is allowed to do what. Single sign-on technology ensures that once logged in, the user won’t have to log in again and again to access the needed service. 

It’s the next step that follows the authentication procedure. Your app’s services are going to need a confirmed verification that a client or another service is authorized to perform a particular action. Authorization solves the problem of assigning access rights to resources of the distributed system to an appropriate user. Your microservices won’t have to deal with authentication and authorization forms and users’ credentials storage. For this, you’ll have an identity and access management system. 

You’ve probably heard of such famous authentication protocols as OpenID, OAuth/OAuth2, Kerberos, and good old SAML. Also, there are well-known identity and access management systems like Okta, Keycloak, and Shiro. All of these tools are at your disposal. 

2. API Security

API gateway allows your microservices to share the functionality with other apps over a defined UI existing between these applications and your own. The inputs and outputs of such UIs can be secured, unexposed, and internal to the apps’ modules. At the same time, they might be exposed outside the app’s ecosystem to receive and transmit data to other external UIs.

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You’ll have to apply more scalable methods to secure your API than the usual centralized session management. Your gateway is usually responsible for dealing with both authentication and authorization procedures at the level of microservices. So, you should build your security model in a way to allow the delegation of tasks to the microservices level.

The previous paragraph leads us to another extra element of security that API gateways bring to the app’s system  – token-based authentication. As the API shields the microservices from a client, a client can’t access any service directly or exploit it. Which leads to the question of how a service communicates a client’s identity once it authenticates to the other microservices in a distributed system?

The solution is by using access tokens that allow you to record the clients’ credentials. The access tokens (e.g., JSON Web Token or session cookies) securely store users’ data and easily identify them each time they try to access the microservices system. API gateway forwards the client’s request to the server that assesses whether or not the client has permission to use the requested service.

3. The Concept of Access Tokens

The previous paragraph leads us to another extra element of security that API gateways bring to the app’s system  – token-based authentication. As the API shields the microservices from a client, a client can’t access any service directly or exploit it. Which leads to the question of how a service communicates a client’s identity once it authenticates to the other microservices in a distributed system?

The solution is by using access tokens that allow you to record the clients’ credentials. The access tokens (e.g., JSON Web Token or session cookies) securely store users’ data and easily identify them each time they try to access the microservices system. API gateway forwards the client’s request to the server that assesses whether or not the client has permission to use the requested service.

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An access token then exchanges the information about the client between other assigned services to let them determine if a token itself is valid. The microservices pull the client’s data out of token and perform the verification procedure to ensure that the client is authorized to use the service. Each service can use the access token when calling other services.

The most important thing is that the data stored in tokens have to be encrypted to prevent security breaches caused by any third-party applications. For example, JSON format is an open standard that a priori encrypts the access tokens and provides supporting libraries for various programming languages.

Final Words

Security patterns in microservices-based applications are to be kept in mind since you can’t leave your software product unprotected in any case, much less when your architecture is distributed. While API and authentication and authorization technologies are a must-have, the token-based approach also has some tangible benefits to consider. First of all, it stores and passes the identity of the caller between the microservices securely. What’s more, the services can verify by themselves if the client is authorized to use their functionality. 

In recent years, the DevOps approach has greatly improved the security testing practices and integrated them into the development lifecycle. If you struggle with the matter of securing your microservices ecosystem, give us a call or send an email, we’ll try to find the optimal solution for your problem.

Microservices Vocabulary. Part 2: Service Registry, Circuit Breakers, CORS, API Gateways

Microservices Vocabulary. Part 2: Service Registry, Circuit Breakers, CORS, API Gateways

Everything in the microservices-based app is carefully crafted and invisibly connected, so if one service fails, it can potentially bring the domino effect throughout the whole system. This is dangerous for your application. So, how to protect your product from a failure of network or single service cascading to other microservices?

The Concept of Distributed Services

In Microservices architecture, the services are distributed, but sometimes they have to work closely with each other to handle specific requests. However, the number of service instances and their location in the network change dynamically. The problem, though, is that to collaborate on request processing, one service has to invoke another one synchronously. This increases the likelihood that the service being called upon to help is essentially unavailable due to various reasons.

At the same time, while waiting for the reply, the calling service consumes the threads  –  valuable app’s resources. This can result in the system’s resources stretched too far, making the caller inaccessible for other requests.  Consequently, when you build an app where microservices have to communicate via a network, you should keep in mind several extra patterns that will help to preserve your system from failing.

Service Registry

To discover the microservice’s constantly changing network location, the client needs a service registry. It’s called service discovery – the act of finding an immediate location of the service instance. And a service registry contains all locations of all services in the system, allowing the client-side to search the needed service by its logical name.

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These requests can be both:

  1. Synchronous – the caller halts until the reply comes back
  2. Asynchronous – some service invocates the caller with the request for an action that can be performed in parallel while waiting for a response.

One drawback of this approach is that the client has to discover the service instances’ coordinates. Also, both the client and the microservice have to be free of other synchronous calls during their direct interaction, which reduces their availability for other communication requests.

  • Messaging – is an asynchronous, more complex inter-service communication protocol. The examples of message tools include Apache Kafka and RabbitMQ.

A self-explanatory term since it means that services exchange messages using a certain broker/channel as an interlink. In detail, to interact with each other, services send their messages to the broker (see the picture). All microservices (subdomains) interested in communicating with these calling services subscribe to the broker to receive the messages. Upon receiving the info encoded in the messages, the services update their own state.

This approach results in such benefits as:

  1. Asynchronous messages support the principle of the loosely-coupled structure of microservices.
  2. They improve the availability of services as the broker/channel layer queued up the messages until the receiver is ready to handle them.
  3. Messaging protocol supports various communication patterns: request-reply, request-synchronous response, publish-subscribe, publish-asynchronous response, notifications, and more.

How does it work? To end up in the registry, a microservice does self-registration of its network location when it starts working and deregisters on shutdown. Using the registry as a phone book, the client discovers the service instance  location by sending a query. Then it calls the needed microservice, making an appropriate request. You might have heard about such ready-made service registries as Redis, Apache ZooKeeper, Netflix Eureka, or Consul.

Circuit Breakers

As we’ve discussed earlier, Remote Procedure Invocation is one of the two most popular service-to-service communication protocols in Microservices architecture, and it has no inter-service message broker. So, if you use it in your app, to receive the request, a service has to be free of other tasks and available for cooperation. Of course, as evidenced in practice, it’s not always possible. Any microservice can end up being unavailable because of a network failure, the heavy load, or else. The failure of the initial call can trigger failures of the other systems through the entire app, like the domino effect we’ve mentioned above.

How to solve this puzzle? By implementing a circuit breaker – a design pattern that lets your app to perform remote invocation of the microservices through proxies. Their structure is akin to an electrical circuit breaker. When the number of consecutive tries to invoke a service surpasses a pre-set limit, the circuit breaker stops reaching out to that remote service, taking a certain timeout.

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Simply put, the circuit breaker deviates the calls if some services are unavailable. After the timeout ends, the circuit breaker resumes its work allowing the selected services to receive a certain number of calls again. Only when the services successfully respond to those client requests, the circuit breaker gets into its normal operation mode. Then, it slowly reintroduces the usual requests’ traffic. Netflix Hystrix, pybreaker, and JRugged are famous examples of circuit breakers.

The doubt?Your microservices easily handle the failure of the invoked services.

The benefit? Establishing the timeout value is a challenging task where you have to avoid ending up with false positives or excessive latency.

Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS)

This one is also for putting the service-to-service calls on hold. CORS greatly helps when you handle the microservices located on different servers. There are technologies, like HTTP, for instance, that have the restrictive same-origin policy. Meaning that to interact with each other, the resources must be hosted on the same server, i. e. have the same origin.

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What is an origin? In short, it’s a combination of protocol, port number, and host. However, you already know that a microservices-based app stores the services in different locations. And when they have to communicate with each other? This is what we call crossing the origin. As browsers restrict scripted cross-origin HTTP requests due to the security reasons, your microservices will need additional HTTP headers (Access-Control-Allow-Origin) to grant the client access to selected resources stored on a different server. These are the essentials of the cross-origin resource sharing pattern.

2. APIs and Contracts. Just business!

Okay, now you probably wonder how exactly each engineering team invokes some external microservices? Well, earlier, we’ve mentioned the API’s role in the communication process. Here we also add another player – the contracts. Just as any business deal, a call, in our case, is sealed with a contract. Such a contract allows the microservices to expose the full set of API’s functions.

For instance, your app’s order processing microservice simultaneously uses two APIs – one for creating new shipment orders, the other one for following the existing orders till they’re successfully delivered. So, how the other system’s services know what is being used and how to invocate it? The microservice issues a certain contract into the system. The other microservices will receive it when needed, read it, and establish a process of remote API’s invocation.

API Gateways

Remember, we’ve discovered that all the elements and components of user interfaces in the microservices ecosystem must be aggregated to form a single app? Still, each component/element must access a particular service. How to achieve it? For instance, you can code the direct client‑to‑microservice connection between the components and your services, but this will raise the need for each request to deal with cross-cutting issues like security.

A way out is to set up an API gateway as a single entry point for all clients. In other words, each client is going to have a unified interface to access all microservices. Different devices request for different data, so rather than providing some universal, all-in-one API, the gateway exposes different, tailored APIs for each client. The gateways are responsible for request routing, protocol translation, and composition.

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Such API gateways have two ways of processing the client requests:

  • Proxy/route some of the requests to the service pre-set to handle them;
  • Fan out other calls to a number of services (requests such as authentication, authorization, service discovery via querying the Service Registry).
  • The popular gateway solutions for microservices architecture are Spring Cloud Gateway, Netflix Zuul, NGINX Plus, Netty, and Finagle.

Afterword

We keep diving deeper and deeper into the technical terms of the Microservices world. Understandably, it might be complicated or confusing, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us to get the needed answers. Our technical experts can help you with free consultations and investigate your project to help you decide whether the microservices architecture is suitable for your business goals or not.

Stay tuned, more fun is coming!

Microservices Vocabulary: Services as They Are

Microservices Vocabulary: Services as They Are

You may say how much more should we discuss the same thing? True, anyone can get tired of repeating the one description over and over again. So, today, we decided to dive a little deeper and explore the services from a more technical side, but still in a simple way. How do they work? Communicate? Interact? Let’s focus on microservices’ communication and relationships with each other.

Services Themselves. At the Scale

As you remember, after you separated your app into subdomains, each of them is then wrapped into the service package. All of them are deployed and ran entirely independently. We also know that these services usually greatly vary in terms of functionality and development requirements, but their end goal is to communicate with each other after release. Simply put, the microservices ecosystem is about services having some kinds of relationships that result in processing all the client’s side requests correctly.

1. Breaking Communication Barriers

When the services of your app’s subdomains reach out to each other, they use particular inter-process communication protocols, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and a specific communication style. The two most common communication protocols in microservices architecture are Remote Procedure Invocation (RPI) and Messaging. What’s what?

  • RPI (also known as Remote Procedure Call) –  is the simplest inter-service communication protocol for distributed, client-server systems. You might have encountered or even used the examples of RPI technologies before – SOAP, REST, gRPC.

This technique utilizes the request-reply concept – the client/service makes requests to a particular service, and this service has to reply back. Take the shipment app we’ve previously divided into subdomains. Here, the order processing microservice calls the admin subdomain to assign the worker responsible for delivery.

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These requests can be both:

  1. Synchronous – the caller halts until the reply comes back
  2. Asynchronous – some service invocates the caller with the request for an action that can be performed in parallel while waiting for a response.

One drawback of this approach is that the client has to discover the service instances’ coordinates. Also, both the client and the microservice have to be free of other synchronous calls during their direct interaction, which reduces their availability for other communication requests.

  • Messaging – is an asynchronous, more complex inter-service communication protocol. The examples of message tools include Apache Kafka and RabbitMQ.

A self-explanatory term since it means that services exchange messages using a certain broker/channel as an interlink. In detail, to interact with each other, services send their messages to the broker (see the picture). All microservices (subdomains) interested in communicating with these calling services subscribe to the broker to receive the messages. Upon receiving the info encoded in the messages, the services update their own state.

This approach results in such benefits as:

  1. Asynchronous messages support the principle of the loosely-coupled structure of microservices.
  2. They improve the availability of services as the broker/channel layer queued up the messages until the receiver is ready to handle them.
  3. Messaging protocol supports various communication patterns: request-reply, request-synchronous response, publish-subscribe, publish-asynchronous response, notifications, and more.

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However, both protocols oblige you to establish the data format that is going to be used for the exchange procedure. Considering the needs of your app’s overall architecture, the data can be transferred as the text or binary sequence (e.g., gRPC protocol). The most commonly used text formats that you might have heard about are JSON, XML, and YAML. These formats are pretty easy-to-implement and debug, but most importantly, they are human-readable. In contrast, while the binary messages are more compact, they are machine-readable and far more difficult to handle.

2. APIs and Contracts. Just business!

Okay, now you probably wonder how exactly each engineering team invokes some external microservices? Well, earlier, we’ve mentioned the API’s role in the communication process. Here we also add another player – the contracts. Just as any business deal, a call, in our case, is sealed with a contract. Such a contract allows the microservices to expose the full set of API’s functions.

For instance, your app’s order processing microservice simultaneously uses two APIs – one for creating new shipment orders, the other one for following the existing orders till they’re successfully delivered. So, how the other system’s services know what is being used and how to invocate it? The microservice issues a certain contract into the system. The other microservices will receive it when needed, read it, and establish a process of remote API’s invocation.

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In any case, you have to develop your API according to the architecture style you’re using:

  • For SOAP architecture, you need Web Services Description Language (WSDL) – an XML-based interface language that describes the functionality of a web service.
  • For REST, there is Swagger that describes the API’s structure in a way for machines to read them.
  • gRPC, by default, utilizes the Interface Definition Language that describes the service interface and the payload messages’ structure.

Summing It Up

The modern market dictates its own rules, which require to take into account both the wide range of digital devices and network constraints. To gadgets with bigger memory slots that have a stable and secure internet connection, you can send a detailed response with some additional info attached. But if some smartphone stuck in the middle of nowhere with poor internet connection calls the same API, you might want to cut the size of response data in half, at least. Therefore, each device has different capabilities, so you have to build separate APIs with different contracts per each gadget supported by your app.

Need more explanations? Reach out to our tech experts, we’re always happy to help!

Microservices Vocabulary: Teams Organization, User Interface, Data Storing

Microservices Vocabulary: Teams Organization, User Interface, Data Storing

The microservices’ terminology is quite rich, so we’re going step by step to show you how the main elements work. Today, we discuss the terms associated with the microservices’ concepts of built for business, designed for failure, and decentralized data management.

1. Teams Organization

As we explored in previous articles, microservices focus on particular business capabilities and priorities. It’s about having logic everywhere, including a team organization pattern. In most cases, the managers responsible for microservices-based projects deal with a broad tech stack and a lot of external collaboration. This results in having the cross-functional engineering teams, capable of developing user interfaces, databases, and backend parts. Such teams build specific individual services that communicate with each other and own the product for its lifetime.

So, if you choose to utilize the microservices architecture, be aware that it directly affects the way you’d have to organize the project team. As microservices style splits your app’s main domain into separate subdomains, you’ll be assembling not one big team per primary domain but several teams of various sizes per each subdomain.

Yes, the teams for microservices projects are perfectly scalable and right-sized. Based on the tech requirements of each subdomain, you can set up smaller or bigger development units. Of course, the bigger business functionality a subdomain covers, the bigger-sized team you need. The main advantage of this approach is that the teams are totally independent and solely responsible only for the product they build, but entirely from development to deployment, sure.

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That’s why most such projects operate based on Agile and DevOps practices that empower different engineering teams to operate on the maximum productivity within their skill sets. At the same time, these separate teams work closely together in perfect synch, building parts of the same final product that are going to be integrated with each other when the day comes. For sure, having a few cross-functional teams that own each microservice independently requires a deep trust.

So, it’s in your best interest to carefully manage such an organizational structure to ensure that all teams follow a clear version control policy for their code and tech docs, which can be stored in different repositories. Use a version control software (Git, Subversion, etc.) that helps to track each version of the microservices being developed. Keep in mind that one subdomain team can be still working on the 3.3.3 version of their service, while another team can already be testing some far later version of the whole product.

2. User Interface (UI)

And this one is about design for failure, yes. The microservices are independent components, so you have to design your app in a way to tolerate the failure of any separate service. Sure, regular monitoring of the microservices ecosystem helps to prevent crashes. But still, the services can let you down due to a number of reasons, and your app must respond to the emergency as seamlessly as possible and cope with failure appropriately.

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Not every microservice project has a UI development phase, but when it happens, you should follow a proven technique to aggregate them. Your isolated teams can build and maintain their own set of graphical components, integrate them, and work closely with the designers to create the best user experience for the release version of your app. But how to implement a UI that displays information sent by the combination of multiple microservices?

You have to create a UI mixture using one of the two available design patterns. Here you can choose the server-side page composition to build web pages on the backend by combining HTML elements developed by different teams. Or you can go through the client-side approach, where your browser will form a single interface by composing all UI fragments from multiple teams. In both cases, you have to set up a team able to build the responsive app’s ecosystem that will aggregate multiple UI parts.

3. Data Storing

The good old centralized governance and management don’t work for microservices since this style uses a variety of technologies, tools, and platforms. You can’t manage it all using the centralized approach. Every microservices-based project follows the principles of decentralized data management.

What does it mean? The monolithic software uses a single database for persistent data, while microservices-based apps decentralize their data storing utilizing the Polyglot Persistence concept. Simply put, in microservices software development, each service has its own independent database. 

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This approach might result in some degree of data duplication and consistency maintenance issues, but there is no other way. The necessity is related to the Domain-Driven Design and Bounded Context. This approach divides each big business domain up into multiple bounded contexts outlining the relationships and connections between them. The correlation between the services and bounded contexts is clear and easy-to-navigate, even considering the separations.

To keep being loosely-coupled, independently developed, deployed, and scaled, the microservices have to manage their data via independent data storages with corresponding tech requirements. Considering the specifics of your app, one database can be responsible only for reading and processing the information, the other one will be sending the replies, and the third one will handle only the transactions. This way, if one of your teams implements changes in one service’s database, it won’t affect any other app’s services. The database for each service can be of any type depending on the project you develop.

Afterword

If you have questions on any of the discussed elements, please, don’t hesitate to send us a message. We’re always ready to provide you with a free consultation. Also, stay tuned for our next articles, we’re going to explore the specifics of the distributed microservices, their scalability, security issues, and much more.

Monolith vs. Microservices Architecture

Monolith vs. Microservices Architecture

Continuing our journey on learning more about Microservices, today, we’re discussing the differences in following Monolithic and Microservices architecture patterns. As we’ve already investigated what microservices are, let’s start with the concept of the monolith.

Building a Monolithic App

A monolithic architecture pattern implies that you build an app as a single-tiered and self-contained software unit without modularity. Here all elements of the app’s code represent a single layer from a single platform, independent from other applications.

The design philosophy behind the monolith approach is to make the stand-alone software responsible for a full cycle of designated functions, not just for one particular task. Take for example, personal finance management apps and word processors – most of them had been using only the monolith basis until recently.

Following Monolith Pattern

Let’s say, your project is to build a shipment web app. At first glance, this software has to have such features as user registration and management, orders form, logistics options, routes maps, price and delivery time calculators, invoice generator, various payment options, and admin panel. And once a shipment company receives an order, the app has to present admin with the list of matching delivery options, contacts of responsible workers, and so on.

The monolith formula is to model the app first. A team of business analysts, PMs, engineers, and architects create a project roadmap of how things are going to work at the scale. Where each form goes, what will be the user stories, business logic, how many shipment categories the will have, etc. A database will be responsible for storing all the app’s information; there also has to be an easy-to-navigate, intuitive user interface. So, basically, we have a frontend side that communicates with a backend side.

This backend is deployed exactly as a monolith with its own attached database. The app can also communicate with third-parties APIs, and it supports a full range of devices (desktop, mobile, tablets). Sounds familiar? It’s because we’re very accustomed to this architecture. It’s been working efficiently for us for a long time.

Why? Due to its simplicity in many fields:

Simple Development – your overall tech stack on the project will be only a few languages, frameworks, and databases; a single IDE is usually enough for your monolithic code.

  • Simple Testing – having a monolith, you mostly test a single piece of software, with the occasional need to mock several external services for integration testing.
  • Simple Deployment – you just need to deploy the final artifact of your monolith (WAR file or directory hierarchy) on the suitable runtime and configure the designated properties.
  • Simple Scaling – you can scale and improve the app’s availability by running multiple copies of the software behind a load balancer.

Then why even bother about microservices? As with anything, there are two sides to the coin. Along with benefits, the monolith has a number of drawbacks. For instance, you might want to empower your shipment app with additional features. The app’s codebase has to grow by who knows how many lines. The team grows in size since you probably add more needed engineers. Here come the problems.

The bigger your app becomes, the harder for each new developer to show productivity right from the first days. It’s because the app’s codebase gets challenging to sort through or modify. Not to mention that you might need to set up several teams to maintain the particular functionalities of your massive monolith – for design, for frontend, for backend, for QA, for deployment. And these teams can’t work independently; they must coordinate their actions and efforts to meet each other at the redeployment stop.

So, at this stage, the drawbacks of the monolithic approach become more visible and significant:

  • The code has an enormous number of lines that not every developer is able to navigate through;
  • New developers’ productivity is low;
  • Monoliths have limited reusability;
  • The app is difficult to modify and update, which slows down the development phase;
  • The IDE overloads and becomes slower, less productive;
  • The technical debt increases over time, but the tech stack must remain the same as at the start of development;
  • Due to the lack of modularity, the code’s quality declines with each change being made;
  • Continuous deployment of an entire app becomes harder and harder as the code grows;
  • The operational agility collapses because of the frequent redeployment rounds;
  • Scaling gets more complicated, one-dimensional due to the increasing volume of data – caching is less effective, memory consumption increases, and the app gets slower.

Just imagine, you need to change the database for one small part of your app. What to expect? A lot of redevelopment for several app’s sections, not just for that little feature. This comes along with huge risks of scaling the entire piece of software, slower deployment, and inability to predict if the redevelopment will even work.

Building a Microservices-based App

So, what about the microservices pattern? Business-oriented APIs represent their capabilities. Simply put, each microservice carries out a core business capability, a valuable asset to the business. These assets are highly scalable to be used in multiple contexts, without direct binding through must-have languages or shared libraries. Each service is reusable for more than one business process and over different business channels.

As the microservices are loosely-coupled, the dependencies between them and their end-users are minimal – the consumers won’t feel any changes in the implementation of the particular service. Combining robust API management and up-to-date cloud deployment and integration technologies, the microservice architecture pattern divides the monolith into a set of fully independent software units. This principle of modularity allows updating, modifying, and replacing the whole systems or service components, without any impact for end-users.

Therefore, the microservices bring the following benefits for your application:

  • Principle of modularity increases the overall agility of the development process;
  • High modularity, scalability, and reusability of the app’s logic parts;
  • The development tech stack is unlimited;
  • Easy code maintenance – fixing, modifying, and replacing the parts of your app doesn’t require wholesale redevelopment;
  • Scalable and independent engineering teams – services are small, so you need only a handful of developers;
  • New developers’ productivity is higher due to the smaller codebase;
  • Services are independently developed and deployed artifacts, which significantly speeds up the time to market.

Summarizing

So, what about the microservices pattern? Business-oriented APIs represent their capabilities. Simply put, each microservice carries out a core business capability, a valuable asset to the business. These assets are highly scalable to be used in multiple contexts, without direct binding through must-have languages or shared libraries. Each service is reusable for more than one business process and over different business channels.

As the microservices are loosely-coupled, the dependencies between them and their end-users are minimal – the consumers won’t feel any changes in the implementation of the particular service. Combining robust API management and up-to-date cloud deployment and integration technologies, the microservice architecture pattern divides the monolith into a set of fully independent software units. This principle of modularity allows updating, modifying, and replacing the whole systems or service components, without any impact for end-users.

Therefore, the microservices bring the following benefits for your application:

  • Principle of modularity increases the overall agility of the development process;
  • High modularity, scalability, and reusability of the app’s logic parts;
  • The development tech stack is unlimited;
  • Easy code maintenance – fixing, modifying, and replacing the parts of your app doesn’t require wholesale redevelopment;
  • Scalable and independent engineering teams – services are small, so you need only a handful of developers;
  • New developers’ productivity is higher due to the smaller codebase;
  • Services are independently developed and deployed artifacts, which significantly speeds up the time to market.

Following Microservices Pattern

So how to build your shipment app using the microservices? It all starts with the design phase, where you need to define the structure that will present the app’s functionality as a set of loosely-coupled services. This means identifying the subdomains of your main domain, which correspond with particular services that represent different parts of your business.

Exploring the main domain of the shipment services, we can roughly subdivide it into 3 subdomains:

  • The user subdomain that will deal with user authentication and management.
  • The order processing subdomain that will be responsible for the full cycle of orders processing – price calculation, invoices, discounts, and delivery options.
  • The admin subdomain related to the supplier’s side and management of workers responsible for delivery.

Now you have to have clear the connections between these subdomains. Remember, your microservices should be totally independent of each other. So, you need to follow the domain-driven design techniques and patterns to design an appropriate model. First, you should duplicate the features that actually depend on each other in all subdomains to make them separate entities. Then, each subdomain will process its own data on its own terms, so there have to be separate databases for each of the three. Avoid sharing databases – it’s bad manners in the world of microservices.

When these things are cleared up, you’ll end up with a map of services for each domain that can be put into design and production. Having small parts of the software to develop, test, and deploy, your team will work faster and more productive, avoiding overloaded IDE, limited tech stack, and overall chaos related to redeployment.

Summarizing

Of course, both architecture patterns have their advantages and drawbacks. Microservices are not panacea for any project, but it’s definitely a good choice for large, complex software. Small teams, higher agility, easier management, faster development cycle… Is it the best fit for your project? The choice is yours. In the following articles, we’re going to explain all the elements in the microservices ecosystem to help you determine when using this architecture is smart.

P.S. If you’d like to get a free professional consultation, reach out to us at any time. We’re ready to help you decide whether the microservices are right for your project.

What Are Microservices: An Easy Guide

What Are Microservices: An Easy Guide

As you’ve probably noticed, the term “Microservices” has been floating around in the software development industry for the last few years. While engineers are more than accustomed to this term, it still confuses many business owners due to the substantial lack of precise definition. All non-tech-savvy people are used to hear is that “Microservice Architecture” describes a more agile and faster way to design and develop software products as the sets of loosely-coupled services. We want to explore it a little bit deeper to help you navigate through this topic.

Quick introduction

Microservices architectural style means dividing an application into a suite of independently deployable fine-grained services. Microservices are technology agnostic. So you can build such services with pretty much any programming platform that allows you to operate within microservices ecosystems. However, the most commonly used languages in this field are Java, Go, Node.js, and .NET core. While a developer or an architect can start from here, for most CEOs, CTOs, and startup owners, this doesn’t say much.

The business people require crystal-clear details, that’s why we’re here explaining what microservices are and what they do. We won’t teach you how to develop a product rather present you with enough information on the specific common characteristics that microservices have in terms of organization around business capability, decentralized control, and automated deployment. Furthermore, we hope this material helps you to quickly decide if the microservices approach meets the goals of your project or company.

Software Development Lifecycle

It doesn’t matter if your project utilizes Waterfall or Agile development methodologies – it all starts with a software development lifecycle. During such a cycle, your team turns a project into an actual, released product. Since Agile is far more popular these days, let’s use it as a starting point for further discussion.

So, a typical Agile software development lifecycle consists of such stages as:

  • Analysis Phase/Requirements Gathering
  • Planning & Design
  • Development
  • Testing (Unit, regression, penetration, and so on)
  • Deploy & Release
  • Monitoring (User feedback)

If you’re following the Microservices architectural patterns, they significantly impact your product’s development lifecycle. Microservices affect the technology stack, the way you organize a team and its size, the development timeline, and the way your application goes into production. In a nutshell, microservices are software pieces, so they also follow your product’s software development lifecycle, with only some slight differences.

What Are Microservices? Part 1: Micro

Originally born in 2011, the term “Microservices” outlines a software development approach that tends to implement the best practices, principles, and architectural patterns for increasing the speed and efficiency of designing, developing, and managing complex software solutions at scale. Being technology agnostic, microservices present enormous engineering abilities on the most complicated projects as they do not require one single platform or programming language to be built. If your project uses numerous programming languages, you can be sure that you’ll find at least one among them that is suitable for creating microservices architecture. Let’s dive even deeper. The word Microservice itself consists of micro and services. The reasonable question would be – how big is one microservice? How many features should it include? The team of which size can build it? How many lines of code does it suppose to have? But there is no universal measure defining the ideal size of a single microservice. What is “big” or “small”? Who sets the benchmark? Nobody knows. The one thing we all know for sure, according to James Lewis and Martin Fowler, is that each microservice has to be designed to do one thing and do it well. Therefore, the “micro” part is about the scope of the service’s functionality itself, not the length of code or team size. Now let’s get down to a “service” part.

What Are Microservices? Part 2: Services

In Microservices architecture, each service is an independently deployable component/element of bounded code (engineers call it bounded context) built around a specific business capability. It also supports interoperability through message-based communication. Quite similar to Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), yes. It brings to your product the same concepts of modularity and message-based communication that SOA follows.

How does it work? To create sophisticated enterprise software, you have to define the sub-domains of your primary business domain. Then you’ll be able to present each sub-domain as a separate microservice. For instance, you can split a large enterprise employee management application into a few smaller sub-domains – profile authorization, user management, communication portal, and so on.

“In short, the microservice architectural style is an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API. These services are built around business capabilities and independently deployable by fully automated deployment machinery. There is a bare minimum of centralized management of these services, which may be written in different programming languages and use different data storage technologies.”

James Lewis and Martin Fowler (2014)

James Lewis and Martin Fowler also wrote a book and various articles that list the common characteristics of Microservice architecture patterns without turning to a precise definition of the term.

Some of these characteristics are:

  • Componentization via smaller, independently deployable services
  • Services focus on business capabilities
  • Services are autonomously developed, messaging-enabled, and bounded by contexts
  • Microservices run independently, but they all rely on each other in the overall ecosystem
  • Decentralized governance system and data management
  • Automation – as much as possible
  • Products not projects are the end goal
  • Evolutionary Design
  • You can use different tech stack as long as it fits the project goals

Microservices’ Impact on the Development Lifecycle

So, when you manage to split a presumably monolithic app into smaller microservice components, you can concentrate on something smaller, more narrow-oriented. The smaller projects iterate much faster on all stages of the lifecycle, from requirements analysis to development and to release into production. Which significantly speeds up the product’s time to market.

Smaller projects also require a different way of team organization. Instead of trying to manage and connect several teams in different locations, you need only one small-sized squad, working closely together on the limited scope. Such a team will decompose your large app into small, highly-cohesive, autonomous, and loosely-coupled services that work together and communicate with each other efficiently, but will be deployed independently.

We’ve used to develop software ‘as one project results in one product or one app (one piece of software)’ at a time. This meant the longer lifecycles for complicated projects, where you could spend months or even years just gathering the requirements before the actual production. Microservices architecture, on the other hand, makes you more agile in all fields – with the developers, operational and QA teams, and other users.

Conclusions

Microservices are small, autonomously developed, independently deployable, self-contained pieces of business functionality that have own clear interfaces and focus on your business’ capability. Microservices are deployed in production at their own pace, on their own terms. The essential characteristic of this approach is that everything concentrates on being micro and bounded by context, while effectively exchanging messages to communicate within one ecosystem.

Microservices is the best choice when you need to solve the problem of a software system that is too big. Microservices architecture somewhat follows the Unix philosophy – do one thing and do it well. And here, unlike the monolithic architecture, a change of a single microservice within an app doesn’t require the redevelopment of the whole platform. Such industry giants as Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, eBay, PayPal, and others already benefit from moving onto a microservices architecture.

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