|By JP Morgenthal||
|March 23, 2017 12:00 AM EDT||
Microservices (μServices) are a fascinating evolution of the Distributed Object Computing (DOC) paradigm. Initial design of DOC attempted to solve the problem of simplifying developing complex distributed applications by applying object-oriented design principles to disparate components operating across networked infrastructure. In this model, DOC “hid” the complexity of making this work from the developer regardless of the deployment architecture through the use of complex frameworks, such as Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) and Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM).
Eventually, these approaches waned in popularity as the distribution frameworks were clumsy and the separation of responsibilities between developer and operations did not meet with the promised goals. That is, developers still needed to understand too much about how the entire application behaved in a distributed mode to troubleshoot application problems and the implementation was too developer-centric to allow operations to be able to fulfill this role.
One aspect of this early architecture that did succeed, however, was the concept of the Remote Procedure Call (RPC). The RPC represented a way to call functionality inside of another applications across a network using the programming language function call constructs such as passing parameters and receiving a result. With the emergence of declarative syntaxes, such as XML, and then JSON, marshalling—the packaging of the data to and from the RPC—became simpler and the need for specialized brokers were replaced with generic transports, such as HTTP and asynchronous messaging. This gave rise to the era of Web Services and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).
To make a long story short, Web Services were extremely popular, SOA, required too much investment in software infrastructure to be realized on a massive scale. Web Services was eventually rebranded Application Programming Interface (API)—there is really no difference architecturally between a Web Service and an API—and JSON became the primary marshalling scheme for Web-based APIs.
Apologies for the long-winded history lesson, but it is important to understand μServices in context. As you can see from this history the more we moved away from the principles of object-oriented toward a more straightforward client/server paradigm there was a rise in adoption. The primary reason for this is that architecture takes time, satisfies needs of longer-term goals, and requires skilled individuals that can often be expensive. With the growing need for immediacy driven by the expanding digital universe, these are characteristics that many business leaders believed were luxuries where speed was essential.
Needless to say, there was an immediate benefit of rapid growth of new business capabilities and insight into petabytes of data that was previously untouchable. Version 1.0 was a smashing success. Then came the need for 2.0. Uh-oh! In the race to get something fast, what was ignored was sustainability of the software. Inherent technical debt fast became the inhibitor to deriving 2.0 enhancements at the same speed as 1.0 was developed. For example, instead of envisioning that three applications all implemented similar logic and developing that once as a configurable component, it was developed three times each specific to a single application.
Having realized the value of architecture and object-oriented design that was dropped in favor of speed, the vacuum created was for a way to use the speedy implementation mechanics while still being able to take advantage of object-oriented design paradigm. The answer is μServices.
While Martin Fowler and others have done a great job explaining the “what” and “how” of μServices, for me the big realization was in the “why” (described herein). Without the “why” it’s too easy to get entangled in the differentiation between this and the aforementioned Web Services. For me, the “why” provided ample guidelines for describing the difference between a μServices, an API and a SOA service.
For simplicity I’ll review the tenets of OO here and describe their applicability to μServices:
- Information hiding – the internal representation of data is not exposed externally, only through behaviors on the object
- Polymorphic – a consumer can treat a subtype of an object identically to the parent. In this particular case, μServices that implements a particular interface can be consumed in the identical fashion
- Inheritance – the ability for one object to inherit from another and override one or more behaviors. In the case of μServices, we can create a new service that delegates some or all behavior to another service.
The interesting thing about these tenets as a basis for μServices, and subsequently the basis for the title of this article, is that answering the mail on this does not necessitate complete redevelopment. Indeed, in many cases, existing functionality can be refactored from the 1.0 software and packaged up using container technology delivering the exact same benefit as having developed the 2.0 version from scratch as a μService.
Let’s revisit our earlier dilemma that similar logic was developed three different times into three different applications. For purposes of this blog, let’s assume that is a tax calculation and was written once each for US, Canada and Europe. Each of these has a table implemented in a database. It would not take much work to take these different implementations, put them into a single μService with a single REST interface using a GET operation with the region and providing the necessary inputs on the query string. That new μService could then be packaged up inside a Docker container with its own Nginx (Web Server) and MySQL database with required tax tables for each region. In fact this entire process could probably be accomplished, tested and deployed in the span of a week. Now, we can create four new applications that all leverage the same tax calculation logic without writing it four more times.
This works great as long as the tax tables don’t change or we don’t want to add a new region. In that case, additional development would be required and the container would need to be re-created, tested and re-deployed.
Alternatively, we could develop a reusable tax service and deploy this new μService in a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Assumedly, we could extend this service with new regions and changes to tax tables without impacting any other region, having to regression test the entire tax service, or take the μService out of service during the redeployment period. Moreover, the new region would be available simply by modifying the routing rules for the REST URL to accept the new region.
The diagram below illustrates these two different options. The .WAR file represents the deployable tax calculator. As you can see one or more containers would need to be either patched or re-created to deploy new functionality in the Deployment Architecture model, whereas we could continue to deploy multiple .WAR files in the PaaS Architecture, which would handle routing off the same URL-based interface giving appearance of being a single application.
Thus, the two faces of μServices are those create through deployment and those created through design and development. As a lifelong software architect, I recognize the pragmatism in getting to market faster using the deployment architecture, but highly-recommend redesign and development for greater sustainability and longevity.
If you found this article useful, please leave a comment.
For organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
Mar. 23, 2017 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,401
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Mar. 23, 2017 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,296
In recent years, containers have taken the world by storm. Companies of all sizes and industries have realized the massive benefits of containers, such as unprecedented mobility, higher hardware utilization, and increased flexibility and agility; however, many containers today are non-persistent. Containers without persistence miss out on many benefits, and in many cases simply pass the responsibility of persistence onto other infrastructure, adding additional complexity.
Mar. 23, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,089
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
Mar. 23, 2017 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,380
Everyone wants to use containers, but monitoring containers is hard. New ephemeral architecture introduces new challenges in how monitoring tools need to monitor and visualize containers, so your team can make sense of everything. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, David Gildeh, co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, will go through the challenges and show there is light at the end of the tunnel if you use the right tools and understand what you need to be monitoring to successfully use containers in your...
Mar. 23, 2017 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,072
The IT industry is undergoing a significant evolution to keep up with cloud application demand. We see this happening as a mindset shift, from traditional IT teams to more well-rounded, cloud-focused job roles. The IT industry has become so cloud-minded that Gartner predicts that by 2020, this cloud shift will impact more than $1 trillion of global IT spending. This shift, however, has left some IT professionals feeling a little anxious about what lies ahead. The good news is that cloud computin...
Mar. 23, 2017 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 833
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,390
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,818
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership abi...
Mar. 23, 2017 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 10,668
Thanks to Docker and the DevOps revolution, microservices have emerged as the new way to build and deploy applications — and there are plenty of great reasons to embrace the microservices trend. If you are going to adopt microservices, you also have to understand that microservice architectures have many moving parts. When it comes to incident management, this presents an important difference between microservices and monolithic architectures. More moving parts mean more complexity to monitor an...
Mar. 23, 2017 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,229
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Mar. 23, 2017 02:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,453
Microservices (μServices) are a fascinating evolution of the Distributed Object Computing (DOC) paradigm. Initial design of DOC attempted to solve the problem of simplifying developing complex distributed applications by applying object-oriented design principles to disparate components operating across networked infrastructure. In this model, DOC “hid” the complexity of making this work from the developer regardless of the deployment architecture through the use of complex frameworks, such as C...
Mar. 23, 2017 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,023
As Enterprise business moves from Monoliths to Microservices, adoption and successful implementations of Microservices become more evident. The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Documenting hurdles and problems for the use of Microservices will help consultants, architects and specialists to avoid repeating the same mistakes and learn how and when to use (or not use) Microservices at the enterprise level. The circumstance w...
Mar. 22, 2017 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,080
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Mar. 22, 2017 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 8,288
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
Mar. 22, 2017 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,708
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Mar. 22, 2017 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 7,239
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.
Mar. 22, 2017 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,780
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
Mar. 22, 2017 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,696
As software becomes more and more complex, we, as software developers, have been splitting up our code into smaller and smaller components. This is also true for the environment in which we run our code: going from bare metal, to VMs to the modern-day Cloud Native world of containers, schedulers and micro services. While we have figured out how to run containerized applications in the cloud using schedulers, we've yet to come up with a good solution to bridge the gap between getting your contain...
Mar. 21, 2017 10:15 PM EDT Reads: 7,222
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
Mar. 21, 2017 09:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,082