This article is the first part of our three-part application modernization series. 

One of the most popular processes in application modernization is adopting a microservices architecture. This article guides readers through the basics of microservices, such as the definition of microservices, its benefits, and the current microservices landscape. We also highlight AWS features and services for building and managing microservices and how managed service providers can help host microservices on AWS

Microservices have gained popularity in software development in the past decade. After industry bigwigs such as Netflix, Amazon, and Uber witnessed success stories with microservices, it caught the attention of organizations across industries.

Microservices promise speedier development cycles and agile delivery, allowing organizations to pivot with changing consumer demands. As consumers today expect more personalized and responsive digital experiences, microservices enable organizations to release software features and updates frequently without disrupting the system.

In this article, we take you through a comprehensive microservices guide, starting with the definition of microservices, monolithic vs microservices architecture, and what spurred the shift to microservices. We will also dive deeper into AWS microservices and their benefits and how a managed service provider can help you host them on AWS.

What are Microservices?

Microservices refer to a software development approach where a large software system is divided into a collection of small, independent services. Each service uses modules that run on distinct processes, and these services communicate with each other through well-defined application programming interfaces (APIs).

Here are some key microservices characteristics.

  • Microservices follow modularization, which involves breaking down monolithic applications into smaller manageable services.
  • Microservices are independently deployable and scalable, enabling separate development, testing, deployment, and scaling.
  • Microservices can be implemented in different technologies, aligning well with continuous integration and deployment of CI/CD practices. This enables faster release cycles and adaptability to changing requirements.
  • Microservices possess their own databases, allowing development teams to choose different programming languages and frameworks for each service based on unique requirements.

The Shift to Microservices Architecture

The combination of technological advancements, the demand for faster development cycles, and the requirement for agile architectures contributed to the widespread adoption of microservices. While the traditional waterfall development model is often slow, microservices are loosely coupled and easy to modify. It’s a perfect fit for companies trying to stay relevant, fail fast, iterate, and then pivot quickly in a competitive business market.

Another milestone contributing to the adoption of microservices is the advent of cloud computing platforms, such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. These platforms provide a scalable and flexible infrastructure that complements microservices architecture. The rise of containerization technologies, mainly Docker, also played a crucial role in adopting microservices. Containers allowed developers to package applications and their dependencies in a consistent environment, making deploying and running microservices across different environments easy.

Lastly, with the rise of distributed systems, organizations began to recognize the importance of designing applications that could function seamlessly across distributed environments. By its nature, microservices embrace the principles of distributed systems and offer solutions to related challenges.

Here is a list of benefits that organizations can enjoy with microservices.

  1. Improved Fault Isolation: Microservices are independent components. Hence, failure in one service does not affect the entire system.
  2. Improved Maintenance: The modular nature of microservices simplifies maintenance. Technical teams can save valuable time, and it simplifies updates and enhancements.
  1. Seamless Collaboration: Microservices align well with DevOps principles, promoting collaboration between development and operations teams.
  1. Efficient Resource Utilization: Microservices can be deployed on distributed systems and use containerization and orchestration tools like Docker and Kubernetes.

Monolithic vs Microservices: Which one is better?

Monolithic architecture is a centralized approach to developing software applications, offering functionality directly opposite to microservices. In a monolithic architecture, the different modules of an application are interconnected, sharing the same codebase and running within a single process.

While microservices offer several benefits, analyzing your unique needs, such as budget, goals, and constraints, is essential before selecting an architectural style for your organization. In some cases, a monolithic system might be the right choice.

So, how do you decide which architecture is best? Let’s look at some scenarios.

Microservices architecture is a good choice in the following instances.

1. Microservices are well-suited for large and complex systems as they facilitate greater scalability and flexibility.

2. Microservices enable independent deployment. As a result, organizations can release new updates and features without affecting the whole system.

3. Microservices are a good choice if an organization prefers implementing diverse technologies, programming languages, and frameworks.

One of the best examples of a large organization using microservices is Netflix. The Netflix platform is divided into a number of microservices that handle individual functions such as streaming, user authentication, content recommendation, etc. Microservices also allow Netflix to scale individual components independently. As a result, during high-traffic hours, Netflix can scale its streaming microservices without affecting other services.

Similarly, organizations should go for monolithic architectures in the following cases.

1. In the case of smaller projects or teams, monolithic architecture offers greater development speed due to its simple structure.

2. If components of your system need to tightly integrate and share a lot of code, a monolithic architecture might be more appropriate.

3. In some cases, a monolithic architecture can be more resource-efficient as it avoids communication overhead between distributed services.

eBay is a classic example of a multinational company that initially adopted monolithic architecture. When eBay was just starting out, its system was built on a monolithic Perl application where all functionalities were tightly integrated into a single codebase. However, as eBay expanded out of its growth phase, it transitioned toward a microservices architecture.

Implementing and Managing Microservices on AWS

It is essential to carefully evaluate your use case before selecting a cloud platform for implementing microservices. AWS is one such example which offers a robust and feature-rich environment to build and manage microservices.

AWS’ scalable cloud infrastructure accommodates varying workloads associated with microservices architectures. Moreover, Amazon’s wide range of services, such as Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and AWS Lambda, also simplifies the deployment of microservices.

For organizations using containerized microservices, AWS also offers Kubernetes services like Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), which makes it easy to deploy and manage containerized applications. Moreover, AWS provides a secure cloud environment and features such as identity management tools and compliance certifications, which are crucial for applications with strict regulatory requirements.

However, using the right AWS services and adopting the best practices for microservices architecture can be challenging for many organizations. In such a scenario, organizations may benefit from employing managed service providers (MSPs) to host microservices on AWS.

Here are some key ways MSPs can ensure your microservices architecture on AWS is well-designed, secure, and efficiently managed.

  • MSPs can help you develop and deploy microservices architecture on AWS using container technologies such as Docker.
  • They also take charge of leveraging AWS services such as ECS and EKS for managing and orchestrating containerized microservices.
  • An AWS MSP can offer expertise in services like AWS CodePipeline, AWS CodeBuild, and AWS CodeDeploy to support DevOps, which speeds (CI/CD) for microservices.
  • MSPs also monitor and log solutions on AWS, ensuring the health and performance of your microservices architecture.
  • They utilize tools like Amazon CloudWatch,, and others to provide real-time insights and facilitate efficient troubleshooting.
  • MSPs design and implement backup and disaster recovery strategies on AWS, ensuring data backup and that the microservices architecture can quickly recover in case of unexpected failures or disasters.

Conclusion

Ultimately, microservices are the right choice for organizations looking for rapid application innovation, continuous delivery, and faster time-to-market. However, it’s crucial to consider organizational readiness and needs, as microservices require a robust DevOps culture.

Although there are several cloud platforms for hosting microservices, AWS offers numerous benefits. AWS provides a comprehensive set of tools and services, such as AWS Lambda, Amazon ECS, and Amazon API Gateway, which streamline microservices’ development, deployment, and management.

While the first part of our series focuses on understanding the basics of microservices architecture, we talk about combining microservices architecture with serverless technologies in the next part. Serverless technologies can offer several benefits, such as cost-efficiency, automatic scaling, and scalability for individual microservices. Read on to learn more.

If you are looking for a managed service provider to take charge of hosting AWS microservices, Ibexlabs could be the solution for you. In addition to being an AWS partner, Ibexlabs’ Microservices Hosting Accelerator is designed to build, scale, manage, and support microservices on AWS.

FAQs

What is microservices architecture?

Microservices architecture is an approach to developing software applications as a collection of small, independent services. Microservices architecture is designed to perform a specific business function and can be developed and scaled independently.

What are the benefits of microservices architecture?

Microservices enable independent scaling of services, and this agility is crucial for organizations looking to respond quickly to changing business requirements. Microservices make it easier to adopt new technologies without overhauling the entire system.

Which software development architecture is better, monolithic or microservices?

Monolithic and microservices architecture have unique features, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Monolithic architecture is a good option for organizations looking for ease of development, debugging, and data consistency. On the other hand, microservices are well-suited for organizations looking for autonomous development and deployment and improved scaling.

What are some benefits of implementing and managing microservices on AWS?

Implementing and managing microservices on AWS offers several benefits due to the platform’s extensive set of services. For example, AWS provides containerization with Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS, which makes it easy to manage and scale containerized microservices. AWS’s serverless computing services allow developers to run code without managing servers.


Focus on the benefits of microservices rather than the tedious task of managing the underlying infrastructure and operational aspects of the microservices architecture.
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