Microservices architecture is a pattern for organizing computer systems into services that can scale with demand. This type of architecture is very popular these days due to its ability to instantly slice up a traditional monolithic app into a variety of smaller services. This methodology is very handy when you need to optimize your business functionality, scale your app, make it more failure-proof and resilient, and much more. But there is more, much more to the microservices methodology. Intrigued? Then, familiarize yourself with today’s post. For more exhaustive information on microservices, visit the page on our dedicated blog.
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How It All Started: Monolithic Apps
Back in the 1990’s, an Internet company would run a big monolithic program on the server that the company maintained on-premise. To serve an increase in traffic, a popular company would simply add more instances of the monolith. Though now it may seem like an inconvenient option, in fact, monolithic architectures do have some positive features. A monolith might come in exceptionally handy when there is a need to centralize the codebase, which helps access and store important data in one place. This enables engineers to step through any part of the code during the debugging process. What’s more, user requests that are completely served by a monolith do not have to make calls across a network, which reduces the chance of network failure.
Most software companies still have their code in a monolith today. And they could be completely satisfied with this tried-and-tested architecture if it wasn’t for one considerable problem – it gets really tough to maintain a monolithic solution once it starts to grow. The point is when a company uses decentralized code, sooner or later it’s bound to encounter the tight coupling issue. Such couples are very difficult to break up, which hampers further scalability and overall performance of a monolithic program. In other words, if a program gets too big, it won’t be able to run on a typical machine.
The Advent and Evolution of Microservices
Fortunately, in the early 2000s, Internet giants undertook their first attempts to break up their applications into more manageable services. The new service-oriented architecture eliminated the need for scaling the monolithic app by providing software engineers with the tools necessary to tweak the individual application parts that were under load.
Operating system virtualization made service-oriented architecture more economical. One server could host multiple virtualized operating system instances, and each of those instances could run a service. But this also meant that engineers had to manage more and more layers of infrastructure: the virtual machine host, the hypervisor layer, and the hardware itself. As a result, failures became more complex and debugging got harder.
In 2003, Amazon Web Services launched the Elastic Compute cloud, or EC2. This service allows software developers to rent virtual machines in Amazon’s data centers. With Amazon taking care of potential failures at the hardware and hypervisor level, developers now can focus on the virtual machine hosts where their application code is running.
But using an entire virtual machine for running a small piece of app code might be too wasteful an undertaking. That is where containers come in and save the day. Containers allow a virtual machine to be sliced up into isolated file system regions. A container can be as large as the entire virtual machine or as small as your smallest service. Hence the term ‘microservice.’
Microservices run in containers, which run on a virtual machine, which runs on a hypervisor, which runs on a server, which sits in a data center, which is part of a network of data centers called the cloud. Despite its numerous benefits, containerized architecture led to a new problem. Companies that ran thousands of microservices in containers on the cloud didn’t have a simple way of managing them. Luckily, today, new techs provide engineers with access to a centralized system for managing containers. And Kubernetes, an open-source project by Google, is one of such useful innovations. Kubernetes also makes these services portable, creating a competitive tension between Amazon Web Services and Google cloud platform.
The days of microservices are just getting started. Software development has never been easier, and the two biggest companies in the cloud are competing for users. What’s more, there are smaller software development companies that can help you create a complex and highly functional product, which will give your business a boost. Thus, the development of cutting-edge microservices solutions are promised to keep getting easier and cheaper. So, why not avail yourself of them right now?