Someone on computer wondering about the uses of microservices.

Traditionally, software developers have made monolithic applications that offer a wide range of features and services. Over the last several years, many DevOps professionals have turned away from monolithic architecture and embraced the uses of microservices. If your organization hasn’t started using microservices, this article will help you understand your options and the common benefits of microservice architecture.

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What Are Microservices?

A microservice is a very small program that performs one specific task. When building microservices, developers often weave together several tasks. From the end user’s perspective, it often feels like using a standard application that draws its features from one codebase. Really, the microservices are independent. The appearance of cohesion comes from orchestration management tools such as Kubernetes or Docker Swarm.

Uses of Microservices vs. Monolithic Apps

Developers have moved toward microservices because they help solve many of the problems created by monolithic apps. With a monolithic app’s architectural style, all of the features have connections to shared dependencies. Therefore, trying to update one feature could interfere with other features.

Since changing aspects of a monolithic app can influence other features, developers prefer to treat the apps as concrete products that do not change often. This often means that companies get stuck using outdated software until a development team can write an entire replacement. Depending on the software’s size and features, this could take weeks or months to accomplish.

With the microservices approach, developers can add new features, update aging features, and delete obsolete features. Each microservice operates on its own, so the changes do not have negative effects on the rest of the software architecture. This makes it possible for developers to optimize web applications through continuous integration and continuous delivery without interfering with previous work.

Microservices Architecture

Microservices architecture has a lot in common with service-oriented architecture (SOA). Both approaches bundle discrete services that can work together as needed. The specific architecture of microservices, however, can look very different depending on expected outcomes. Often, related microservices run in side-by-side containers, which lowers the risk of latency despite functioning as distributed systems of services.

Alternatively, virtual machines (VMs) can act as environments where microservices work.

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Are Uses of Microservices and APIs Different?

The uses of microservices and APIs are different but related. Companies frequently rely on APIs to act as regulatory funnels that respond to users’ demands. For example, when a user asks for a web application to submit a form, the request goes through the API gateway to the microservice container. The microservice performs the task and passes the result (in this case, a message indicating that the form has been accepted or denied) to the user.

While the uses of microservices and API gateways differ, they can work together to provide seamless experiences.

Common Benefits of Using Microservices

Some common benefits of using microservices include:

  • Agnostic programming that lets developers use the right programming languages for the job (Java, SQL, etc.).
  • A focus on CI/CD pipelines that extend lifecycles and improve rapid debugging.
  • Faster time to market (developers can always add or adjust microservices later).
  • A modular approach that lets developers fine-tune their products gradually to meet user needs.
  • Easier integration and cohabitation with legacy systems.
  • Scalability that can happen quickly because each microservice scales on its own instead of requiring the entire system to scale.

Most importantly, microservices create more opportunities for innovation. When software developers don’t need to worry about updates interfering with legacy code, they can experiment with inventive features that benefit users in surprising ways. They can also deploy these updates frequently (and delete them just as frequently) to discover which features users prefer.

Use Cases of Microservices

Netflix offers one of the most compelling use cases of microservices. The company needs rapid scalability to meet the demands of subscribers. The service tends to experience peak demand times that can increase load quickly. Microservices allows the platform to remain operational by only scaling the required services at any given moment. Microservice architecture also makes it possible for software developers to address performance issues without interrupting all services.

Netflix’s architecture relies on two major components. The company hosts all of its data, including video content, with Amazon Web Services (AWS). An in-house content delivery system called Open Connect handles requests. The components work simultaneously in conjunction to deliver content to users.

Netflix has a rather complex backend architecture, but it can function much more efficiently because the components operate independently. This increases fault tolerance, improves scalability, and speeds up content delivery. These are all critical aspects to managing a successful streaming service in today’s competitive industry.

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How DreamFactory Can Help

APIs play a critical role in how you deliver microservices to users. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a lot of time generating, publishing, and managing your REST APIs. DreamFactory does the difficult parts for you. You can experience the benefits of DreamFactory before you commit to a plan. Start your free trial today so you can discover how DreamFactory makes microservices more functional for your DevOps team and end users.