What are Microservices?

Microservices are a component of an application that is designed to run independently.

An app that uses a microservices architecture is a collection of loosely coupled, independently deployable, and lightweight services designed for fast development and deployment. Modularity is the ability of a software system to break down into parts or components. A microservice can be changed, modified, and updated separately from the other microservices. Thousands of microservices can make up a single application.

Although it is unnecessary for all microservices in an application to be written in the same programming language or by the same development team, it’s a good idea.

Open-source tools are used to build microservices-based applications. Their creators publish them to publicly available repositories such as GitHub. Other development teams prefer a mix of open-source tools and commercial off-the-shelf software.

What are the characteristics of micro apps?

  • All microservices run their processes and communicate with other components and databases via their respective application programming interfaces (APIs).
  • Microservices use lightweight APIs to communicate with each other over a network.
  • Because microservices are individually developed and maintained, each microservice can be modified independently without reworking the entire application.
  • Every microservice follows a software development lifecycle designed to ensure it can perform its particular function within the application.
  • This is a set of APIs that perform specific functions, such as adding merchandise to a shopping cart, updating account information, or transacting a payment.
  • Microservices expose the functionality of a system so that it can be reused in other applications. This allows you to create new applications without starting from scratch and lets you re-use a piece of an existing application to complete another one.

Microservices are sometimes referred to as cloud-native. Although cloud-native development is increasingly popular, the cloud-native approach to application development includes software development practices and containers, container orchestration, and other tools. Cloud-native apps are developed as containerized microservices using agile DevOps methods, packaged for, and deployed to the public cloud.

Why are microservices being adopted?

Microservices offer an agile path to innovation by allowing services to be created and deployed as independent building blocks that can be deployed, changed, and redeployed quickly.

DevOps is a development tool that speeds time to market by allowing the development, testing, and deployment of applications to occur concurrently without compromising the quality or security of the final product. In addition, the ability to develop mobile and cloud applications that are agnostic of the underlying infrastructure is an essential capability for today’s developers.

Organizations also need to modernize their application delivery when adopting microservices and modernizing application architectures. For example, an application delivery controller (ADC) is essential for improving microservices-based applications’ availability, performance, and security. In addition, most companies adopting cloud-native architectures are building microservices in public clouds to take advantage of the on-demand scalability offered by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and others.

Microservices Architecture

How do microservices work?

A microservice is a lightweight component or service that performs a unique function within an application. The best software solutions are delivered by smaller components that work together as independent parts of a whole. It is common for development teams to develop and maintain large applications and services using separate modules, with each module developed and maintained separately. This helps the team improve their application and services more quickly.

Individual microservices communicate via APIs, often over the HTTP protocol, using a REST API or messaging queue. Microservices are a modern approach to software development. Developing services presents unique challenges for everyone involved, from the teams using the service to the architects who plan it out.

Because they are distributed systems, microservices must be built with extra care and attention, as they require extra care and attention. As a result, Microservices development involves many challenges. One of the main challenges is how to handle service discovery, messaging protocols between the client and services, and between microservices.

Microservices integration is yet another essential consideration when designing a microservices-based application. A best practice is developing business logic code as part of a service and offloading the networking code to a type of infrastructure called a service mesh. Service meshes are a way to manage communication between the individual microservices that make up an application. They mustn’t contain business logic. Instead, a framework of smart endpoints and dumb pipes is used in the microservices architecture. It means that the microservices themselves employ the logic to integrate the application.

In the meantime, microservices deployment follows an agile, scalable, and repeatable process called continuous integration and continuous delivery, or CI/CD. The primary benefit of CI/CD is that it merges application development and operations to reduce microservice deployment times.

DevOps teams can make near-instantaneous changes to applications, and with that agility comes more responsibility. The DevOps movement is a revolution in how developers and operations work together. It requires everyone involved to be highly agile and nimble, with developers able to work closely with the operations team. In addition, it involves application owners taking responsibility for their systems.

What does microservices architecture look like?

Microservices are not a new take on application development: Microservices architecture has roots in the design principles of Unix-based operating systems and the famous service-oriented architecture (SOA) model. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a new concept introduced by SOA International (SOA) and the Open Grid Services Architecture (OGSA). It introduces services and service composition and helps to separate code into functional units.

Microservices architecture is a powerful tool that can separate a business into many microservices that work as independent units. Smaller development teams can run these more minor services, giving your organization a competitive advantage. Agile DevOps is a preferred approach for IT organizations looking to make their applications more agile, scalable, and resilient while making them easier to manage with fewer developer resources.

Microservices - Mobile app and Browser

Container-based microservices are a common way of implementing a microservices architecture. Kubernetes is an open-source platform for managing containers. The container orchestration system, Kubernetes, automates the management, deployment, and scaling of containers across multiple servers by abstracting the underlying infrastructure. Kubernetes makes it easy for developers and operators to automate much of the work of container management by using their preferred open source and commercial tools.

Another architectural style choice to be determined is how to expose the microservices within containers when they receive a request from an external client. For example, a popular way to improve the security of an eCommerce website is to use an ingress controller, which works as a reverse proxy or load balancer.

All external traffic is routed to the ingress controller. Then, it is either forwarded to the internal service or another service if one is available. In addition to the standard REST-based API, you may have a set of APIs provided as web services through an API gateway to simplify your clients’ needs.

An API Gateway helps DevOps teams automate their CI/CD workflows. Each microservice has its API, which manages requests over a protocol such as HTTP to communicate with other microservices and the application. A microservice-based application typically contains many microservices and APIs. For example, an API gateway reduces the latency associated with multiple TCP or TLS encryption hops.

An API gateway enables DevOps to

  • Enforce authentication policies
  • Rate limit access to services
  • Enact advanced content routing
  • Perform flexible and comprehensive transformation of HTTP transactions using the rewrite and responder policies
  • Enforce web application firewall policies

What are the types of microservices?

The primary types of microservices are stateful and stateless.

Stateful microservices

A Stateful microservice records the state of data after an action for use in a subsequent session. For example, online transaction processing such as bank account withdrawals or setting an account’s balance are stateful because they must be saved to persist across sessions. Stateful components can be pretty complex to manage. They require stateful load balancing, so they can only be replaced by other components that have the same state.

Stateless microservices

Statelessness can be defined as the absence of memory. With no memory, there are no states. This is a crucial characteristic of microservices. Stateless microservices are always preferred in cloud environments. They can be spun up as needed and used interchangeably. If you pre-commit to using X servers, storage, and networking infrastructure, you may not be able to use those resources because your cluster might be split across multiple regions.

As organizations increasingly choose multi-cloud strategies for application deployment, they are relying on containerized microservices for application portability across on-premises and public clouds. Because each microservice in a distributed architecture can be deployed, developed, and scaled independently, IT teams can quickly make changes to any part of a production application without affecting the application’s end users. Microservices are a big deal in today’s web development. They enable rapid application development and can help your company to get products and services to the customer faster.

Companies should be agile and flexible to innovate. Many companies are moving their applications to public clouds to achieve that. Moving monolithic applications to the cloud can’t help you take full advantage of the agile, scalable, and resilient features of the public cloud infrastructure.

Microservice-based architectures make it easy to write device and platform-agnostic applications, so organizations can deploy microservice-based applications to a range of infrastructure types and to different platforms and devices. A key advantage is that you save yourself money by buying directly from the manufacturer.

  • Each microservice can be built and deployed independently, allowing for more rapid releases because development work can be spread across multiple teams, and key components can be easily shared and reused.
  • Developers are not limited to using the same frameworks and languages for the entire application because of microservices function as independent processes.
  • Microservices can be easily scaled with tools like Kubernetes to handle increased requests.
  • Microservices don’t require complex integration testing but can use simple automated testing as part of the CI/CD pipeline to deploy the application to production.

How organizations benefit from microservices?

The use of microservices benefits organizations by helping them realize their business objectives, whether an overarching focus like digital transformation or a specific need like refactoring an on-premises legacy application to run in a highly scalable cloud environment.

By using microservices and cloud-based platforms, companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Google have created new products, acquired competitors, and improved their offerings quickly. By building applications using microservices, you can develop features independently of other features in a product or service and release them all at once. This helps you deliver your products and services to customers faster.

How do software development teams benefit from microservices?

A microservice is a small, autonomous, single-purpose service that is easy to develop, test, and deploy—and also easy to change and maintain.

Microservice architecture allows developers to focus on a specific function of an application rather than the entire application.

The use of microservices paired with practices like assembling small teams rather than large teams and making agile software development a part of your culture is the key to the most modern way of software delivery. The best DevOps teams work to constantly narrow the scope of what they are responsible for developing, while also owning the entire software development lifecycle for a particular function.

How end users benefit from microservices?

When a monolithic application must be rebuilt or redeployed for any reason, including to release a major update or to fix a minor bug, the application end-user experience can suffer.

Microservices-based applications let developers quickly make changes to only the affected microservices. They don’t have to wait for a full deployment to be made to an entire application.

Customers who run the application and other end-users who use the application should have no discernible difference when the microservice they depend upon is updated in production.

Microservices best practices

Microservices best practices often involve automation, but are often applied in concert with other automation strategies. CI/CD is the latest development approach used by microservices teams today, which is why developers are challenged to keep their microservices in sync. Large organizations are able to efficiently manage their Kubernetes cluster with the help of a container orchestration platform such as Kubernetes.

Kubernetes is a tool used to run containers (or ‘containers’) in a cluster of virtual machines. However, Kubernetes environments are difficult to deploy and troubleshoot, so many organizations struggle to deploy microservices-based applications quickly and reliably. With our approach to architecture and design that addresses challenges and open questions in the architectural planning phase of development, we are better equipped to meet our clients’ unique needs.

DevOps can effectively solve for such microservices best practices concerns as:

  • Choosing the right architecture for providing the greatest benefits relative to the complexity of implementation and available skill sets
  • Using automated processes and tools to manage at scale
  • Gaining visibility into microservices at scale
  • Minimizing the complexity of testing a large number of services that each have unique dependencies
  • Achieving better performance and scale for large clusters with a lower memory footprint and lower latency
  • Eliminating the observability blind spot for east-west traffic between microservices
  • Quickly pinpointing issues when a service fails or a server goes down
  • Ensuring a consistent security posture across all microservices and APIs, including for ingress (north-south) traffic and intra-cluster (east-west) traffic

Microservices security and authentication

When building security in microservices applications, it starts with adopting a zero trust approach, where every request to every resource must be authenticated and authorized. Containerized applications are great, but it’s important to correctly apply role-based access control (RBAC) permissions and security policies in Kubernetes. This eBook provides tips on how to enforce security within a Kubernetes cluster and how to secure ingress and egress.

Microservices management

One challenge of microservices management is maintaining the speed of development while not sacrificing security. Microservices in microservice-based applications protect north-south traffic from the application, and also help east-west traffic by moving it away from the services where the load is greatest.

Microservices Management
Many of the same security challenges that are present with monolithic applications also exist in microservices-based applications, especially with regard to north-south traffic that requires:

  • Controlled access to the application
  • Prevention of unauthorized bot traffic
  • Verification of requests to prevent application attacks
  • Traffic steering to the right resources to be processed
  • Encrypted traffic needs to protect data in transit

Microservices access control

Microservices need to have unique identifiers for users. From an identity and access management perspective, this means that all users must be identified in order to grant them access to a particular microservice.

By using a centralized directory service as a single source of identity and authentication, DevOps teams can abstract the function of global authentication and authorization away from individual microservices. A microservices-based architecture for an application that runs in a containerized environment must solve for providing secure access to dynamic services whose locations change.

An API gateway acts as the single point of entry and ensures secure and reliable access to the APIs and microservices within the application. The API web client calls the API gateway, which forwards the call to the appropriate services on the back end.

Security policies are used to protect your containers and pods, so they can be secure and accessible. The system can also detect whether the application is being attacked by an attacker. If it detects that the application is being attacked, the system can block the attack. We can’t stop hackers from getting in, but we can limit their ability to take over our systems and wreak havoc. To do that, we need to control access to the things that make our systems work.

Microservices monitoring

One of the three key sites for observability is monitoring microservices. Microservices provide a unified view for the environment and as such should be monitored. Monitoring the status of a large number of microservices is not easy.

There are many endpoints, which makes it a more attractive target for cyber attackers. Microservices are highly-scalable and secure, which means that if you find an unexpected performance problem, your ability to diagnose it and isolate the issue quickly is essential.

Root cause analysis can be very difficult to identify and troubleshoot for dynamic applications. When a microservice fails, it needs to be troubleshot. This includes seeing where the failure happens, why it happens, and who is impacted. A key metric that needs to be monitored is infrastructure, containers, and their contents and their API endpoints. An alert system plays a crucial role in helping to pinpoint issues that need to be addressed.

AppViewX solutions for microservices

To adopt microservices and a modernized application architecture, organizations must also adopt a modernized approach to application delivery and security.

An application delivery controller (ADC) is key to improving the availability, performance, and security of microservice-based applications. While some companies have not yet decided which technologies to use in cloud development, many developers are already building applications in cloud technologies that require the use of containers and microservices.

AppViewX supports an organization’s transition to microservices-based applications by providing operational consistency for application delivery across multi-cloud environments to ensure an optimal experience for the application end user.

AppViewX offers production-grade, fully supported application delivery and security solutions that provide the most comprehensive integration with Kubernetes platforms and open source tools. They’re greater in scale, and with less latency, and they have consistent application and API security.