Back in early days software was developed as a single unit constructed from a mishmash of custom technologies that were clubbed together. As can be imagined, with the addition of more features, it started becoming more complicated with a codebase that steadily grew bigger and harder to work with. Microservices break apart this model into a set of small, discrete and most importantly, independent processes, helping developers improve the software faster and more efficiently.
Microservices are a style of software architecture pattern where the applications are composed of small-scale independent modules which communicate with one another using well-defined API contracts. The microservices work in much the same way for software as the assembly line had done for Henry Ford's car parts. The general aim of microservices architecture is to make the development and scaling of applications more accessible.
Azure's microservices model offers standardized modular blocks of code for individual processes that can be plugged in for a cleaner, more efficient build. Working with smaller, independent units means that business capabilities can be created out of composable building blocks that foster collaboration between autonomous teams and enable them to bring new functionalities to the market faster.
The Assumed Why
Microsoft Azure's monolithic single-tiered applications had emerged to combine the user interface and data access code into a single program from a single platform. While monolithic applications were often simpler to design, the bottleneck was the tight coupling between their tiered layers and the inability to scale the individual components. Addressing these bottlenecks, Azure came up with its microservices, that closely align with the above business requirements.
A critical benefit of these services is that the teams are driven more by business scenarios than by technology. Smaller groups develop a microservice based on a customer scenario and use any technology they want to. With microservices, every individual typically encapsulates more straightforward business functionalities, which can be scaled up or down, tested, deployed, and managed independently.
Many companies have adopted Azure's microservices - Service Fabric, Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS), Azure Functions, and API Management. With Service Fabric, companies can get automatic scaling, rolling upgrades, and self-healing from faults with a custom-built microservices framework.
AKS helps use a fully managed Kubernetes service to handle provisioning, upgrading, and scaling cluster resources on demand. Azure functions will build apps with simple, server-less features that scale on request based on the number of executions—without managing infrastructure. With API management, specific parts of applications can be exposed and published as an API, no matter where the implementation is hosted.
Microservices simplify the development of distributed cloud applications by making people rely on built-in, enterprise-grade security, and auto-scaling. Switching to a microservice architecture seems easy, but tech leaders tend to underestimate the complexity of the project and make disastrous mistakes. There appears to be a strong emphasis in the market, by technology vendors, for positioning microservices as being only for new projects. However, a recent survey has revealed that organizations are also using microservices to re-architect existing and legacy applications. The market size of microservices has been increasing and is expected to keep growing.
For many years now, Azure has been building systems and getting better at it. Several technologies, architectural patterns, and best practices have emerged over those years. Microservices is one of those architectural patterns which was developed from the world of domain-driven design, continuous delivery, platform and infrastructure automation, scalable systems, polyglot programming, and persistence.
The Ultimate Panacea
Robert C. Martin had coined the entire concept by stating, “Gather together those things that change for the same reason, and separate those things that change for different reasons.” Once developed, microservices offer improved fault isolation whereby in the case of an error in one service, the whole application doesn’t necessarily stop functioning. When the error is fixed, it can be deployed only for the respective service instead of redeploying an entire application.
The most significant advantage that this innovation brings to the table is to make it easier to choose the technology stack (programming languages, databases, etc.) which is best-suited for the required functionality (service) instead of being required to take a more standardized, one-size-fits-all approach.
In this age of hyper-speed innovation and supersonic business ships, having the speed and agility to adapt is the key to change, and more importantly, to survive. If you're looking to steer your business into the future, microservices can be the vehicle to take you there, and if you ever need a road-map, Azure is there to help.