A Beginner's Guide to Microservices | Dreamfactory

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Microservices are a style of architecture used by many organizations for software development. In the past, the IT industry used monolithic or service-oriented architecture (SOA) solutions as the standard. However, the lack of dynamic scalability of this type of architectural system is no longer adequate for the increasing complexity of today's infrastructures. Microservices addresses this by providing a highly agile and scalable alternative. So what exactly are microservices, and what is their practical use? How can you best use them? All the answers are in this beginner's guide to microservices.

What Is a Microservice?

There are several definitions for microservices. However, the most common and generalized one remains that of Martin Fowler, who states: "The microservices architectural style approaches developing a single application as a software suite that integrates multiple services. These services are built around enterprise capabilities and can be deployed independently."

In concrete terms, microservices are a software development method used to design an application as a set of modular services. Each module serves a specific business purpose and communicates with other modules. For Fowler, microservices should require the bare minimum of centralized service management, and they may comprise different programming languages. Are there any examples of successful microservices? Yes. These are some of the most innovative and profitable microservices examples among enterprise companies in the world.

What Is The Difference Between Microservices and APIs?

Microservices and APIs (application programming interfaces) have been the subject of so much communication that there is now some confusion about how they relate to each other. Microservices and APIs are two different things. A microservice is an architecture for applications that separates an application into several small autonomous web services.

The API is, as its name suggests, a programming interface. It is the framework through which a developer can interact with an application. APIs are a set of classes, methods, functions, and constants that serve as an interface through which software can offer its services to other software. They essentially access an application's data and use its functionality. Confusion arises because there is an overlap between these two IT concepts. Many microservices use APIs to communicate with each other.

Misconceptions About Microservices

Before diving into microservices architecture, a few preconceived notions about this architectural style need to be clarified. First, the prefix "micro" may lead one to believe that it is a tiny service and, therefore, does not allow for complex tasks and functions. This is false. A microservice is a small component, but developers can program it for the most complex to the simplest of business applications. For example, they can use it to set up a connection system and a payment engine.

The second most common misconception is that many people assume microservices are a new type of protocol. But they are neither new nor a protocol. As mentioned above, microservice architectures use existing APIs such as REST, SOAP, AMQP, and JMS.

The Advantages of Microservices Architecture

Microservices exist to meet the data processing and organization needs that monolithic SOA architectures can no longer meet. Among all the advantages of the microservices ecosystem, there are five main ones:

Reduction of Development Time

Thanks to distributed development, developers can work on several microservices simultaneously. The application's development time is thus less because several developers can work on a project without disturbing each other and interfering with each other's work.

Increased Scalability

With microservices and their independence in development and deployment, developers can update a component without affecting the other components of the solution. This lets the application evolve to meet new needs and demands without disrupting the system.

Reduced Downtime

Because microservices are independent, unlike monolithic applications, the entire application does not stop working when one component fails or encounters a problem. It is also easier to identify and resolve a failure in this type of ecosystem.

The Adaptability of Each Microservice to the Working Tools

The independence of the components makes it possible to set up the microservices with different programming languages. Thus, the operational tools used by the company can be compatible with the global solution. Technological evolution is no longer a problem with this type of architecture since the implementation languages of each microservice can vary to adapt to innovations.

Best Practices for a Microservices Ecosystem

A microservice requires a large infrastructure, and developers must design it from scratch. They cannot completely isolate it because it runs and interacts in a dedicated environment: the microservices ecosystem. For implementation to be successful, it must include a spirit of sustainability. Indeed, you must think upstream about stabilizing the environment, facilitating its evolution, and ensuring it's reliable and fault-tolerant. Here are the best practices, divided into four layers, for a microservices ecosystem:


This layer includes the physical host servers, databases, and operating systems. Whether Linux, Solaris, or Windows, the operating system should use a configuration management tool such as AnsibleChef, or Puppet. It must also be the vehicle for installing all applications and defining the configurations. Without this upfront work, you will have scalability issues. If you need to scale, everything will need to be configured again. You'll also need host-level monitoring to troubleshoot any problems you encounter.


This layer of the microservices infrastructure affects all other layers. Without proper communication, none of the other parts of the architecture can function. For data, microservices can use HTTP plus RAF or a TIFF communication channel. For messaging, the microservice will send messages over the network via HTTP or the chosen protocol. It is also important to include discovery, logging, and load balancing in the communication layer to facilitate dynamic communication across the infrastructure.


This is the phase during which you develop your applications. Therefore, this layer must host all the self-service development tools for creating new databases, tables, schemas, and ports. The integration of logging and monitoring tools is a vital step in the development layer. If you have built everything right, deployment should be automatic.

The Microservice

This is the last layer, and it is the simplest. This is where the microservice lives and runs. It is also where the configuration file lives and where you should place self-service tools from other layers if changes are required. Microservice architecture is becoming more and more popular for developing software and applications because of its many advantages, such as its scalability. In addition, the modular style allows for continuous evolution practices. As a result, enterprises are increasingly turning to microservices for their development and cloud application architectures.

Microservices and DreamFactory

Building a microservices architecture requires not only the right technical skills but requires a shift in how you manage your projects internally. This can make it feel like a daunting undertaking, but with the right resources on your side, you’ll be able to reap the many benefits of microservices sooner rather than later.

DreamFactory is a modern, easy to use, no-code auto API generation platform that is tailor made to support microservice development, making it easy to stay on top of all the microservices trends. Interested to learn more about how DreamFactory can help spearhead your adoption of microservices architecture? Start your free trial!

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