Applications, like all things that evolve, are governed by natural selection – or in this case, “functional” selection. The enterprise applications that survive the test of time are those that help companies continually adapt to the shifting business environment. Enterprises need to be able to scale, be agile, personalize offerings, and move quickly. Naturally, the most strategic developers have evolved applications to incorporate all of these components.
Enterprises are moving faster than ever in a race to be the first; the first to innovate, the first to adopt new technology, the first to hit the market. As organizations rely on an increasing number of applications, they need to be able to make these applications work exactly as needed.
This is why applications have evolved to being microservices designed, rather than monolithic, all-in-one packages. Microservices is an approach to developing a single application as a suite of small services, each running in its own process. These services are built around specific business capabilities and can be independently deployed, but combined with others to form larger, cohesive programs. Microservices are changing the speed of business innovation and are opening up entirely new possibilities for organizations. Carsten Thoma, president and co-founder of SAP Hybris went as far as to say microservices, “might be even more disruptive than any other tech paradigm shift that has come before.”
The End of the Monolith Era
Traditionally, enterprises have relied on massive, all-inclusive coding applications to meet customer demands. With these types of applications, key capabilities for managing data analytics – input/output, processing, UI and error handling – were all packaged into one, monolithic process. The trouble with this framework is that it has its limits in terms of scale and speed. This is particularly problematic for industries, such as oil and gas, manufacturing, and supply chain, that rely on real-time data insights from numerous sources and processes.
For example, the exclusive supply chain management company for Dunkin Donuts, National DCP might want to try new tracking mechanisms that require additional capabilities for GPS, data entry and logistics. To accomplish this, a monolithic application developer would need to reiterate the entire application’s design. Not only is this a slow process, but it is also a higher risk, as scaling the whole ERP requires debugging and other troubleshooting measures to be taken. Microservices applications, on the other hand, allow for specific business challenges to be solved with speed and agility.
Microservices-based design also helps build more resilient applications. If one feature of an application goes down, the problem can be contained to that one service. The developer team can work on that one problem without taking down the entire application and can easily deploy that service once it’s fixed. This is where microservices shine and enterprises have taken notice.
The evolution towards microservices seems natural when you consider the alternative: a clustered monolith whose computing power is used to achieve several capabilities at once, which is less than optimal. The benefits are endless. For starters, microservices are easier to maintain as they can be refined without having to edit the whole suite and fulfill the Single Responsibility Principle that emphasizes the value of having specialized services. Coupled with the scalable nature of running in the cloud, microservices give businesses the ability to change, test and refine offerings based on customer feedback and insight – and fast.
Microservices-based architectures allow decentralized developer teams to take customer feedback and adapt offerings to meet customer demands. This means organizations could take a larger solution, which is based on a microservices architecture, and break it out to build and use flexible extensions and solutions that meet their specific needs. Solution providers can take this insight to improve their offerings to suit the needs of their customers. With monolithic architecture-based solutions, there is a lengthy and complicated process for making these types of changes. The agility microservices provides helps organizations stay ahead in the innovation race and profit from disruption rather than succumb to it. Not to mention, there is continual improvement of customer experience with constant refinement.
Time to Evolve
Monolithic architectures certainly have their purpose, but the dramatic rise in microservices popularity is only going to increase. The ability to break up a product into pieces and let customers keep what they like, leverage what they have, and do it on a global scale is necessary for today’s business environment.
This type of specialization is where we are seeing leaps and bounds being made in enterprises as microservices designed for specific tasks have become the new normal. With microservices, we can uncover innovations that we never thought possible, thanks to the innovation being driven by leaders in industries majorly impacted by microservices such as manufacturing, utilities, financial services and other vertical industries facing constant disruption.