Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Mehdi Daoudi, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo, @DevOpsSummit

Microservices Expo: Blog Post

Are Microservices ‘SOA Done Right’? By @TheEbizWizard | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #Microservices

Microservices architecture will never be SOA done right unless it means building hypermedia systems of microservices.

Given my years at ZapThink, fighting to help architects understand what Service-Oriented Architecture really was and how to get it right, it’s no surprise that many people ask me this question.

If you took my SOA course, you can probably guess my answer: it depends.

Even to this day we don’t have a universally accepted definition of SOA. But even if we did, we’d also have to figure out what “SOA done wrong” means, in order to contrast microservices with it.

However, the question “Are Microservices ‘SOA Done Right’?” itself is a mix of apples and, well not oranges – more like confusion between apples and best practices for running an orchard.

What we really mean to ask is whether microservices architecture is SOA done right. But then, of course, we’d have to figure out what microservices architecture was. And if you think defining SOA is difficult, pinning down microservices architecture is unquestionably frying pan into fire time.

The last thing I want to do, however, is make this Cortex into a discussion of the definitions of terms. True, defining terms is what architects love to do best – even though they never end up agreeing. It’s no wonder that the collective term for these folks is an argument of architects.

SOA Done Wrong

In my Bloomberg Agile Architecture Certification course I paint the difference between what I like to call first generation and second generation SOA. The first generation centered on the role of the ESB, and sported Web Services as the primary type of service.

It might well be argued that this middleware-heavy, XML-laden approach to SOA was SOA done wrong, and to be sure, many times it was – but then again, on occasion a particularly hardworking and indubitably masochistic architecture team actually got this stuff to work.

Second-generation SOA is REST-based, favoring lighter weight approaches to moving messages around than the heavyweight ESBs that gave SOA a bad rep. Note, however, that the rise of REST-based SOA predates the microservices wave – so only through some convoluted revisionism might we call this approach microservices architecture.

We might therefore also ask whether this second generation, REST-based SOA was SOA done wrong as well. Once again, the answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no.

RESTful interfaces clearly cleaned up a lot of the mess that Web Services left behind. But implementing properly abstracted, governed service interfaces in the absence of traditional middleware often proved to be surprisingly difficult.

ESBs might be SOA crutches to be sure, but don’t forget, the alternative to crutches is often falling on your face.

Reinventing the Service

Fortunately, the microservices story isn’t about ESBs. It’s about services. Starting from the earliest days of first-generation SOA and running throughout SOA’s RESTful days, the word service meant a contracted software interface. In other words, a service abstracted the underlying software rather than being software itself.

Microservices, in contrast, rethink the notion of service altogether. No longer is a service a contracted software interface at all. Instead, a microservice is a unit of execution.

I like to define a microservice as a parsimonious, cohesive unit of execution. By unit of execution I mean that microservices contain everything from the operating system, platform, framework, runtime, and dependencies, packaged together. And naturally, microservices are fully encapsulated, supporting interactions entirely through their (usually RESTful) APIs.

See my recent BrainBlog post for a deeper discussion of microservices (in particular, what I mean by parsimonious and cohesive) – as well as some insight into how microservices architecture is supposed to work. But even with my thought-provoking connected car scenario from that post, we still have the questions of the day: is such a microservices architecture SOA? And if so, is it SOA done right?

Microservices typically have RESTful interfaces, and we’re likely to have sufficient metadata that will qualify as a service contract. As a result, we end up with the awkward namespace collision that microservices expose services – but aren’t services themselves in the sense of service as a contracted interface.

But that distinction is neither here nor there. Maybe it’s time to update our notion of service to include units of execution. Especially if we’re using containers.

Microservice Architecture as Container-Oriented Architecture

It’s no coincidence, of course, that the definition of microservice makes them particularly well-suited for containers. And while you could certainly implement microservices without containers and vice-versa, there’s no question that the cool kids are combining these two approaches.

If you’ve been following the activity in the container world, you’ll have noticed that quite a bit of thought has been going into the question as to what container-oriented architecture best practices might be. Docker in particular is blazing this trail – but the work isn’t nearly ready for prime time.

Even in its formative state, however, container-oriented architecture doesn’t look much like SOA – done right or not. And yet, the questions of whether microservice architecture and container-oriented architecture will end up being the same thing – or even whether they should be the same thing – still remain to be answered.

Regardless of which side you fall on these questions, there are aspects of container-oriented architecture that weren’t part of the SOA story – or at least, the first-generation SOA story: cloud architecture best practices.

What cloud computing brought to the SOA table are the principles of horizontal scalability and elasticity, automated recovery from failure, eventually consistent data (or more precisely, tunable data consistency), and a handful of other now-familiar architectural principles.

And in fact, these cloud principles complement next-generation SOA, just as they form the basis of container-oriented architecture. And since microservices are container-friendly by design, our argument of architects might argue that microservices architecture is SOA plus cloud architecture done right.

Service Composition: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

One important aspect of the SOA story is missing from this discussion, however: service composition. Central to first-generation SOA was the goal of composing services in order to implement business processes – a goal that led to the BPEL standard for Web Service composition, a debacle that to this day remains notorious for its abject failure.

Bottom line: if you want to talk about SOA done wrong, look no further than how service compositions failed to implement business processes.

As we moved to second generation, REST-based SOA, the service composition story takes an interesting turn, as REST does have an angle here: hypermedia. Roy Fielding’s original vision for REST was as an architectural style for building hypermedia systems – and lo and behold, what is a hypermedia system but an executable composition of RESTful services?

Still with me? No? Well, you’re not alone. Few people understood all this gobbledygook about hypermedia, in particular, REST’s hypermedia constraint – you know, hypermedia as the engine of application state? – so they decided to punt on the whole shebang. REST in practice became little more than an API style, which it remains to this day.

So now we’re discussing microservices architecture – which means we have to ask how best to compose microservices. The jury is still out on this question, but there’s one thing I can say about microservice composition: it must be parsimonious and it must be cohesive.

And given that microservices have RESTful interfaces, the architectural approach for composing them that is both parsimonious and cohesive is to treat microservice compositions as hypermedia systems.

Mark my words: microservices architecture will never be SOA done right unless it means building hypermedia systems of microservices. You heard it here first, folks.

The Intellyx Take: SOA Done Right

SOA has always been a rather loose collection of architectural best practices. And you know what makes a practice a best practice? You try a bunch of things, and the one that sucks the least is the best practice. At least, until a better one comes along.

Now that SOA has a few decades under its belt, the loose collection of best practices we call SOA continues to mature, as new practices gradually supplant earlier contenders. In this bucket we’re now adding various microservices best practices and container best practices – both unquestionably in their “whatever sucks the least” phase.

And we’ve also added cloud best practices and REST best practices to the mix – including the hypermedia best practices that have always been the raison d’être of REST. And to be sure, we have our tried and true SOA practices – not the ones that led us to failure, but the practices that through years of hard work and trial and error finally led us to successful implementations that supported our business agility drivers.

SOA done right, therefore, isn’t a fixed goal to aspire to. It’s a journey of architectural discovery, as we piece together the hard-fought lessons of enterprise system deployments, one practice at a time. And as long as we learn the lessons of the past, we will continue to make progress toward our ultimate business goals – sucking less as we go.

Intellyx advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. At the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. Image credit: Aussie~mobs.

 

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Many organizations adopt DevOps to reduce cycle times and deliver software faster; some take on DevOps to drive higher quality and better end-user experience; others look to DevOps for a clearer line-of-sight to customers to drive better business impacts. In truth, these three foundations go together. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 21st Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, industry experts will discuss how leading organizations build application success from all...
The last two years has seen discussions about cloud computing evolve from the public / private / hybrid split to the reality that most enterprises will be creating a complex, multi-cloud strategy. Companies are wary of committing all of their resources to a single cloud, and instead are choosing to spread the risk – and the benefits – of cloud computing across multiple providers and internal infrastructures, as they follow their business needs. Will this approach be successful? How large is the ...
‘Trend’ is a pretty common business term, but its definition tends to vary by industry. In performance monitoring, trend, or trend shift, is a key metric that is used to indicate change. Change is inevitable. Today’s websites must frequently update and change to keep up with competition and attract new users, but such changes can have a negative impact on the user experience if not managed properly. The dynamic nature of the Internet makes it necessary to constantly monitor different metrics. O...
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
Today companies are looking to achieve cloud-first digital agility to reduce time-to-market, optimize utilization of resources, and rapidly deliver disruptive business solutions. However, leveraging the benefits of cloud deployments can be complicated for companies with extensive legacy computing environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, founder and CEO of Metavine, will outline the challenges enterprises face in migrating legacy solutions to the cloud. He will also prese...
Most of the time there is a lot of work involved to move to the cloud, and most of that isn't really related to AWS or Azure or Google Cloud. Before we talk about public cloud vendors and DevOps tools, there are usually several technical and non-technical challenges that are connected to it and that every company needs to solve to move to the cloud. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Stefano Bellasio, CEO and founder of Cloud Academy Inc., will discuss what the tools, disciplines, and cultural...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
With the rise of DevOps, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in Enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery for the business. When it comes to adopting containers in the enterprise, security is the highest adoption barrier. Is your organization ready to address the security risks with containers for your DevOps environment? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Van Tuin, Chief Technologist, NA West at Red Hat, will discuss: The top security r...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
The nature of the technology business is forward-thinking. It focuses on the future and what’s coming next. Innovations and creativity in our world of software development strive to improve the status quo and increase customer satisfaction through speed and increased connectivity. Yet, while it's exciting to see enterprises embrace new ways of thinking and advance their processes with cutting edge technology, it rarely happens rapidly or even simultaneously across all industries.
These days, APIs have become an integral part of the digital transformation journey for all enterprises. Every digital innovation story is connected to APIs . But have you ever pondered over to know what are the source of these APIs? Let me explain - APIs sources can be varied, internal or external, solving different purposes, but mostly categorized into the following two categories. Data lakes is a term used to represent disconnected but relevant data that are used by various business units wit...
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
One of the biggest challenges with adopting a DevOps mentality is: new applications are easily adapted to cloud-native, microservice-based, or containerized architectures - they can be built for them - but old applications need complex refactoring. On the other hand, these new technologies can require relearning or adapting new, oftentimes more complex, methodologies and tools to be ready for production. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, Solutions Marketi...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory?
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.