What are Microservices? How does Microservices Architecture Work?

middleware team

MW Team

September 23, 2021

What are Microservices? How does Microservices Architecture Work?

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Microservices architecture, often just referred to as microservices, refers to an architectural approach or style of application development that involves the division of large applications into smaller, functional units that perform their own respective functions and communicate via APIs. Although independent units, any number of these microservices may be called upon by the application to work together and achieve desired results.

What are Microservices?

Monolithic Architecture vs Microservices Architecture

Microservices architecture was developed as a means to overcome the challenges and difficulties posed by monolithic architecture approaches to application development. Monolithic architecture can be understood with the analogy of a big container in which all the software components of one application are contained; User Interface, Business Layer, and Data Interface. This had several limitations such as inflexibility, lack of reliability, difficulty in scaling, slowed development, and so on. It was in order to bypass these issues that microservices architecture was created. 

As opposed to monolithic architecture, applications that run on microservices architecture are deconstructed and separated into smaller units called microservices that the client can access with the help of an API gateway. These microservices each operate in their independent capacity but at the same time are also capable of communicating with each other as and when required. The breaking down of an application into microservices, therefore, allows for faster development, easier bug detection, and resolution, smoother maintenance, flexibility, and higher availability and scalability as compared to monolithic infrastructure.

How does Microservices Architecture work?

Microservices Architecture

Microservices architecture focuses on compartmentalization of otherwise large, bulky applications. Each microservice is designed to address one particular aspect and function of the application such as logging, data search, etc., and multiple such microservices come together to form one efficient application. 

This intuitive division of functions of an application allows for several benefits. The client is able to use the User Interface to generate requests and via the API gateway, one or more microservices are engaged to complete the requested task. Larger complex problems, therefore, that require the microservices to combine together, can also be solved with relative ease. 

Key Benefits of Microservices Architecture

Benefits of Microservices

There are numerous benefits of using microservices architecture in application development and some of them are mentioned below. 

1. Requires less development effort to scale up

Due to the independent nature of microservices, smaller development teams can work parallelly on different components in order to update existing functionality. This makes it significantly easier to not only identify hot services and scale independently of the rest of the application but also easier to develop improvements to the application as a whole.

2. Can be deployed independently

Each microservice that constitutes an application must be full stack in nature by itself and this enables microservices to be deployed independently at any point in time. Since the microservices are granular in nature, it is easy for development teams to work on any one microservice in order to fix errors and then redeploy the microservice without having to redeploy the entire application itself. 

3. Microservices offer improved fault isolation

In monolithic applications, the failure of even a small component of the overall application could render it inaccessible as a whole. In some cases, the determination of the error could also prove to be tedious. With microservices, isolation of the problem-causing component is easy since the overall application itself is divided into independent and fully functioning software units. When errors do occur, other non-related units will continue to function.  

4. No dependence on one Tech Stack

A technology stack refers to the set of programming languages, databases, front-end and back-end tools, frameworks, and other such components that is used by the developers to build an application. With microservices, developers have the freedom to pick a technology stack that is most suited for one particular microservice and its functions instead of being forced to opt for one standardized tech stack that encompasses all the functions that an application is supposed to perform. 

What is Microservices Architecture used for?

In very simple words, microservices architecture makes app development quicker and more efficient. Agile deployment capabilities combined with flexible application of different technologies drastically reduce the duration of the development cycle. The following are just a few fields in which microservices architecture is used. 

Uses of Microservices Architecture

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1. Data processing

Microservices drastically speed up data processing tasks since applications that are running on microservice architecture are able to handle more simultaneous requests. Larger quantities of information can therefore be processed in shorter spans of time allowing for faster and more efficient application performance. 

2. Media content

Companies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video handle billions of API requests on a daily basis. Services such as OTT platforms offering swathes of media content to their users will benefit from the deployment of microservices architecture. Microservices will ensure that the plethora of requests for different subdomains pouring in every minute from across the world can be processed without any delays or errors. 

3. Website migration

Website migration involves substantial change and redevelopment of the major areas of a website such as its domain, structure, user interface, and so on. Using microservices will help you avoid business-damaging downtime and ensure that your migration plans are executed smoothly without any hassles. 

4. Transactions and invoices

Microservices are perfect for applications that need to be able to handle high volumes of payments and transactions and generate invoices for the same. A failure of an application to process payments could cause huge losses for companies and with the help of microservices, transaction functionality can be made more robust without having to change the rest of the application. 

In summary

Microservices architecture is the most accepted and reliable approach today in the development of cloud applications. It is highly backed due to the various advantages it offers to tech development teams in the form of shorter development times, improved flexibility, and greater reliability. 

It is also not necessary for a business with pre existing applications to build them from scratch on microservices architecture. There are several options now available that allow for the converting of web applications from monolithic to microservices architecture.

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