15 Benefits of Microservices You Need to Know About
(+ 23 Disadvantages)
Modify, Scale, and Update Your Applications to Meet Changing Business Needs with This Updated Approach to Application Development
Microservices are a topic of interest for many large organizations, offering at first glance a better way to manage large applications. Many liken the microservices architecture to the next evolution of a service oriented architecture (SOA). As the conversation grows around their use, now is the time to get familiar with what they can do for you. Let’s start with a basic definition of what a microservice is:
Microservices are single-purpose applications that can be assembled to create large-scale software systems. Each microservice is built around a set of business capabilities and is independently deployable.
Microservice can deliver a variety of advantages that make their use very enticing. It’s critical to keep in mind, however, like any technology or technical strategy, their use isn’t appropriate for every project or every organization.
Benefits of Microservices
For the right project, microservices can offer an organization a wide variety of significant benefits. Here are 15 of the possible benefits your project could see from the use of microservices:
- Complexity localization. One of the wonderful things about a microservice-based architecture is that it allows you to think about services as self-contained, independent applications. The development team for each service is only concerned with understanding the complexities of their service. Other teams only need to know what capabilities are being provided by the other services; they don’t need to know how they work internally. This localization of complexity and compartmentalization of knowledge can help you create and manage large applications more effectively.
- Cross-cutting business functionality. The use of microservices eliminates the need to build standard pieces of functionality used across the organization multiple times; for example, authentication and user management. By developing these business services that support multiple different applications as microservices, you can break up monolithic applications into several smaller and more maintainable applications.
- Increased Resiliency. Since applications consist of a number of services communicating together when one fails the client should be designed to allow its neighboring services to continue functioning as it steps out as elegantly as possible. This type of improved fault isolation means larger applications remain largely unaffected by the failure of a single module resulting in improved service availability and an uninterrupted user experience.
- Better scaling. Using microservices reduces the amount of effort required to identify slow bottlenecks in an application. It also allows for individual microservices to be scaled in order to resolve those bottlenecks providing for a better overall user experience.
- Output Flexibility. By simplifying the way data can be extracted for various end users, microservices allows developers to tailor the presentation of the data for different audiences easily.
- Real-time processing support. The publish-subscribe framework at the core of a microservices architecture enables data processing in real time to deliver direct output and insights.
- Support for best technology use. By breaking a large application’s functions up into microservices, you are no longer limited to select a single technology set for the overall project. Each service can be developed using the best programming language and data storage technology for its function.
- Efficient system optimization and organization. Scaling decisions can be made at a more granular level with a microservice architecture. You can select where to apply resources to meet your scaling needs based on smaller, more granular components, allowing for more efficient system optimization and organization.
- Rapid growth facilitation. Due to their modular architecture, microservices enable a high level of code and data reuse, making it faster and easier to deploy additional data-driven use cases and solutions for additional business value.
- Cross-functional teams. A microservice architecture is typically organized around business capabilities and priorities. Such services take a broad-stack implementation of software including project management, user-experience, persistent storage, and any external collaborations so they can deliver services communicating via message bus; consequently, the teams are cross-functional.
- Outsourcing flexibility. While many business owners want to be able to offload work to third-party partners, they are often concerned about protecting their intellectual property. Microservices allows the business to segment off work for outsourcing of their non-core business functions without disclosing their core services.
- Team optimization. Due to their focused functionality, microservices allow you to create optimized teams by selecting members based on their specific capabilities allowing them to fully focus on the particular scaling and availability requirements of their assigned service(s).
- Technology experimentation flexibility. Since each microservice is technically independent, you have the flexibility to try out a new technology stack on an individual service. Compared to monolithic designs, any dependency concerns you might have will be smaller and rolling back changes is simpler since there is less code in play. As a resulting bonus, they inherently eliminate the classic long-term commitment to a single technology stack most companies are all too familiar with.
- Cross-team coordination support. Microservices use event-streaming technologies to enable easy integration compared to the heavyweight inter-process communications protocols of traditional SOA architectures.
- High-quality. Breaking a large application into components by business capability enables development teams to focus on one small set of functionalities at a time. The overall coding and testing process for individual services is more precise as a result.
This impressive list of benefits makes microservices look very enticing! In practicality, putting microservices to use in your organization is dependent on a wide variety of factors both technical and organizational. The benefits you will realize are also dependent on project’s specifics.
Disadvantages of Microservices
Now let’s take a look at the negative side of microservices and explore their possible disadvantages. Many of the disadvantages are similar to those with implementing any new technology or architecture. Just as with the benefits, the specific disadvantages that might apply to your project are directly related to its specifics, your team, and your organization. Here are the main disadvantages you need to be aware of as you look into utilizing microservices:
- There is not a commonly agreed upon definition of the size, scope, and boundaries of a microservice.
- Implementing microservices requires a change in development mindset: the architecture should be designed with managing service failure as a top-level requirement.
- A high degree of complexity exists at a higher level regarding orchestrating the services and business processes throughout them.
- Maintaining the complex and rich business logic in enterprise applications can be difficult to maintain in a microservice architecture.
- A high level of communication between teams is required to make sure an update to one service doesn’t break some other functionality.
- Teams must maintain updated schemas and interface documents to help other teams using their service resulting in increased documentation overhead.
- Organizational changes may be required to give teams the power they need to achieve the necessary level of independence they must have to cover the whole lifecycle of a microservice.
- Microservice increase the overall operational complexity of a project and as a result, require a mature operations team to manage the services.
- Testing a microservices-based application with its asynchronous communication and distributed nature can be challenging.
- Each dependent service needs to be confirmed before you can test the application as a whole.
- Understanding, managing and testing dependencies is challenging.
- Automation testing gets more difficult when each microservices is running on a different runtime environment.
- Large numbers of microservices are harder to secure.
- The issues with distributed systems are introduced into the application including development, deployment, and operational management overheads.
- Time to market may be impacted.
- Remote calls may experience latency and are at risk of failure.
- Maintaining high levels of consistency is difficult.
- Writing extra code to handle service issues is required to avoid application disruption.
- Deploying microservices can be complex and result in increased operational costs when services span across multiple systems since different service types require additional deployment configuration files and job scripts to run.
- There are increased configuration management needs across the application since each microservice requires a dedicated build and delivery pipeline.
- Implementing transactions correctly and maintaining their safety can be challenging when multiple microservices are involved.
- Operational expenditures and overhead could be significantly higher depending on the complexity of the system.
- There is a higher initial investment required to run these applications as all the independently running components need their own runtime containers and utilize more memory and CPU.
- There is a larger overall memory footprint resulting in increased memory consumption since you are replacing the number of monolithic application instances with an increased number of services instances and potentially additional instances of some utility classes and libraries.
- Reliable and fast network connections are required to support the increased amount of network communication from services interacting with each other.
- Additional processing power is required as data is moved between services.
- The costs and complexity involved in monitoring applications using microservices in production are higher.
- Applications may see a decrease in performance since inter-process communication is slower than shared process communication and message flow increases with the number of microservices.
- Release risk is increased since even simple cross-cutting changes require changes to many other components, all having to be released in coordinated ways.
- A change in requirements requires you that you either create a new microservice for the new feature or rewrite and add it to an existing service.
- If you need to moving code between services, you must change all dependent services making refactoring hard.
- Maintaining dependent services compatibility can be challenging when updating a single service even when using versioning. Plus, there is no well-defined way to handle versioning of services.
- Being able to choose a different technology stack for various services results in non-uniform application design and architecture which can increase long-term maintenance costs.
By being fully aware of these negative points, you will be better able to make an educated decision about whether or not utilizing microservices is appropriate in your case and have the opportunity to address them should you decide to move forward with microservices.
As with any new strategy you are looking to implement, you need to take into consideration the potential return on investment (ROI) versus risks. The path to getting started with microservices is dependent on the specifics of each project. The development team at QAT Global is here to help you determine where you could benefit from the use of microservices.