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Planning For ISV Growth With Microservices

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Planning For ISV Growth With Microservices

An overview for planning for the growth microservices are expected to have.

· Microservices Zone ·
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There are few uncertainties about what constitutes a Microservice and a Microservices Architecture, and whether they represent an evolution or a revolution.

There is a growing urge in the industry for agility, cost optimization, and shifts between Capital Expenses (CapEx) and Operating Expenses (OPEX). Microservices Architecture is proving to be the facilitator for all of these. Also, this is convenient for the testing strategies and DevOps paradigm. The discussion in this White Paper highlights the recommended approach and the best practices in undertaking the transformation journey to Microservices architecture.

The paper delves into the optimization of Microservices migration. Microservices can fail during runtime for many reasons; however, planning for dealing with this failure and providing resilience is a key part of a Microservices architecture. It also talks about how Techcello is an appropriate one-stop solution, to bridge the challenges of today and opportunities of tomorrow.

Introduction

Microservices are service-oriented architecture patterns where applications built as a collection of various smallest independent service units. It is a software engineering approach decomposing an application into single-function modules with well-defined interfaces. These modules independently deploy and operate by small teams who own the entire lifecycle of the service.

If an ISV has built a product and if the product has grown large, they would already be facing the challenges of monolithic architecture and would be contemplating the move to Microservices. Techcello’s approach to Microservices is more feasible and diverted to making your IT future-ready. It makes your SaaS migration simple and smooth. This paper discusses why Microservices migration is essential for growing ISVs and how they can embrace it.

Vision and Goals

Before talking about Microservices migration directly, it is important to map how the benefits of Microservices migration map back to an ISV’s business vision.

Following table provides a sample structure of vision, goals, and action:

Vision

Goals

Action

Be a market leader in the space in the next 4 years

Improve customer satisfaction index by 10%

Switch to an architecture that supports continuous deployment easily


Decrease operational cost by 30%

Move to an architecture that reduces maintenance cost significantly


Grow by 25% every year

Shift to an architecture that can scale exponentially and offers economy of scale

Table 1: Sample vision, goals and action

Microservices Tactical and Strategical Benefits

Tactical Benefits

Flexibility: Microservices architecture is quite flexible. Different Microservices develop in different technologies. Since Microservices are small, the code base is quite less, so it’s not that difficult to upgrade the technology stack versions. Also, we can incrementally adopt a newer technology without much difficulty.

Reliability: Microservices architecture is very reliable. If one feature goes down, the entire application doesn’t go down. We can easily fix the issue in the corresponding microservice and immediately deploy it.

Increased Resilience: With Microservices, the entire application decentralizes and decouples into services that act as separate entities. Unlike the monolithic architecture wherein a failure in the code affects more than one service or function, there is a slight impact of a failure using microservices. Even when several systems will bring down for maintenance, your users won’t notice it.

Development Speed: Development is fast in this architecture. Since the volume of code is much less for Microservices, it’s not difficult for new team members to understand and modify the code. They become productive right from the start. Code quality maintains well. The IDE is much faster. Microservices take less time to start up. All of these factors considerably increase developers' productivity.

Decreased Maintenance Cost: Microservices architecture enforces stability and hence it is very easy to maintain almost cutting the maintenance cost to half.

Building Complex Applications: With Microservices architecture, it's easy to build complex applications. If the features of the application analyze properly, we can break it down into independent components that can deploy independently. Deciding the boundaries of Microservices can be quite challenging. It’s an evolutionary process, but once we decide, it’s easy to develop, as there is no limitation in technologies.

High Scalability: Scalability is a major advantage. Each Microservices scale individually.

Continuous Deployment: Continuous deployment becomes easier. In order to update one component, we must redeploy only that Microservices.

Strategical Benefits

Easier Team Expansion: It is easier to find developers and application teams to work on new applications rather than to work on an existing application. Microservices are almost like a new application and hence it is easier to add new teams much faster to work on them. Also, Microservices are small enough for anyone new to understand, making it easier to induce teams to work on it.

OpEx Instead of CapEx: Once you have the base, it is very easy to add more and more Microservices at scale and hence instead of looking at the cost per application, the costing changes to per Microservice. This allows incurring on-demand development costs with ease rather than a huge development cost upfront.

Easier Innovation and Experimentation: Since these are very easy to add as well as discard Microservices, it is possible to quickly and cost-effectively build a new feature.

Competitive Edge: As innovation and experimentation are easier, it provides the ISVs highly competitive edge.

Easier Course Correction: Many applications contain tons and tons of features that never use. These exist in the code because of a fear that it would break something else. With Microservices, it is very easy to continuously assess business value and retire features that do not add significant value. This leads to a significant saving in maintenance costs.

Faster Innovation to Adapt to Changing Market Conditions: Microservices can also help you to adapt more quickly to changing market conditions. Because Microservices allow applications updated and tested quickly, you can follow market trends and adapt your products faster.

With Microservices architecture, organizations can try out a new technology stack on an individual service with fewer concerns about dependencies, and you can roll back changes much easier if necessary. And if a module fails, it doesn’t impact the rest of the application.

Now, we have clearly established the advantages of Microservices, the above table of mission, goal and action transform to

Vision

Goals

Action

Be a market leader in the space in the next 4 years

Improve customer satisfaction index by 10%

Switch to a Microservices architecture that supports continuous deployment easily



Decrease operational cost by 30%

Move to Microservices architecture that reduces maintenance cost significantly


Grow by 25% every year

Shift to Microservices architecture that can scale exponentially and offers economy of scale

Table 2: Vision, Goals, and action after migrating to Microservices

Achieving Microservices Migration

Once an ISV decides that Microservices is the right way forward, the next step is to act the same. It is very important to look at the end to end factors in this movement.

Many think that Microservices migration is only about dealing with technical changes. Though technical alignment is very important, there are other factors that will account for when an ISV moves towards Microservices architecture.

Team Structure Alignment: A successful pattern of organizing teams is by Conway’s law which states that ISVs design systems constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these ISVs. This means that the structure of your software should reflect the structure of your software development ISV. Teams should align with the services and must organize in a way that allows them to own what they’re responsible for, end to end. Amazon calls this as you build it, you own it, or build and run teams, responsible for development and production throughout the entire lifecycle for a chunk of software. The team size for one build and run team should not be more than 10. Since ISVs are going to end up with multiple smaller teams at any points, they should also build an overall governance team which spans across all the teams for providing governance and also align individual goals of the team to an overall goal.

Process Alignment

While the overall agile methodology holds good for Microservices development as well, there are many things that we need to bring into the process that might not be relevant for monolithic applications. Following points cover the most important ones:

At the beginning of the Microservices development, at least three to four sprints dedicate for defining the software architecture, infrastructure architecture, DevOps architecture, standard guidelines and practices for the Microservices. This is very important to avoid massive reworks and failures later. A general naming, we follow for these sprints are Foundation sprints.

Once the development has started, multiple parallel scrum teams need to run for the Microservice that are in development respectively. A scrum of scrums needs to run aligning the different delivery goals of the independent Microservices to an overall goal of the product release.

The Testing strategy needs to be different for the Microservices application. Microservices should not rely on manual testing. Since Microservices are smaller in scope, the time required for this automation testing is generally small and it is simple. Automated testing is the one that helps majorly in the faster release to market. Microservices without automated testing is a road to failure. The types of automated tests that each Microservices should develop are:


  • Unit Tests

  • API Tests 

  • Even-driven Integration tests 

  • Saga automation tests

  • Contract tests 

  • End to end tests

Again, like any other application, these tests should follow a pyramid with the highest number of unit test cases to lowest end-to-end tests.

A standardized DevOps process defines for all the Microservices. IAC and pipeline as a code need to adhere. It is highly anti-productive to define this process for each Microservices. IAC and Pipeline code library needs to be available from which each of the Microservices can choose from. If it is very much necessary, Microservices can alter it for their needs. This indicates specifically as a task during scrum planning.

Dependency management highlights explicitly during planning. Developers need the habit of tracking and ensure that their versioning strategy does not affect the dependents. It is highly recommended to use a specialized Microservice dependency tracking system to do this.

The release process needs an end-to-end automated process for Microservice. The stages for the release pipeline and the approval authorities need to be set in place from the beginning.

Periodic audits conduct to ensure that Microservices are adhering to the right guidelines.

Technology Alignment

Designing, delivering and operating Microservices application needs to follow a different mindset as opposed to monolithic. We will discuss the topmost technical principles below:

API, Events, bounded context as the first-class citizen: People who are working on monolithic applications tend to jump directly to database structures and classes when designing the solution. While working with Microservices, the team should think about APIs, Events and the bounded context it represents. The underlying implementation should follow only after these details ironed out.

Authentication and Access Control: Authentication and access control in Microservices has different needs as opposed to a monolithic application. As there are many Microservices that are widespread, so, it is advisable to have a single gateway for all the external endpoints for the Microservices. Granular access control enforces by individual Microservice and an overall authentication check enforces at the gateway. One other authentication need is for inter-service Microservices call. In this case, either the Microservices can adopt a policy of full trust between them which does not need authentication or adopt a policy to carry forward the authentication for interservice communication as well. These policies adopt depending on the nature and sensitivity of the endpoint.

Data Consistency: Eventual consistency is the norm in Microservices. Because of the widespread nature of Microservices, a single business process and transactions can span multiple Microservices. There are patterns to achieve this all relying on eventual consistency.

Dependency Tracking: At any point, multiple teams are going to be working on Microservices. It is very important to minimize the dependencies by design. Though we can achieve it to a great degree by properly compartmentalizing the Microservices, there are going to be dependencies between them. ISVs need to have a different mindset and depend on proper tools to visualize, track and validate the dependencies. Failing this will lead to dependency chaos in a short while.

Infrastructure Management: Instead of deploying and managing a single Microservices, there are Microservices provisioned and maintained. Hence Automate the deployments and use a single pane where DevOps can provision and manage the infrastructure using best practices. The entire release automates via DevOps. Monitoring should be enabled to monitor all the microservices via a single pane.

Observability: User calls can span multiple Microservices and end-to-end tracing should be enabled to troubleshoot. This builds right into the core design and enforces architecturally.

Skill Alignment

Microservices are different in the way of developing compared to monolithic and hence, the engineering team needs to get trained and their thought process needs to realign. There is a lot to learn and unlearn for every role in the engineering team right from the product owners to architects, testers, developers, operations teams.

Optimizing Microservices Implementation

Once the Microservices migration has commenced, it is important to track the goals and where an ISV stands to post the migration effort. If there is a significant difference between what we expect and what we achieve, there are possibilities that the ISV has missed out certain important principles. ISVs must optimize and take right corrective actions.


Following are some of the sample observations that generally leads to the issues

  • Operational Cost:

    • Improper infra management

    • The gap in skill alignment of Infra and DevOps team

  • Maintenance Cost:

    • Improper testing Strategy

    •  Improper release process

    • Improper dependency tracking

    • Insufficient Observability across microservices

    • Data consistency handing is insufficient

  • Release time:

    • Improper DevOps process

    • Scrum of Scrum team is not set up efficiently

    • The gap in skill alignment of developers

  • Scaling Issues:

    • Improper infra management

    • The improper boundary of Microservices

    • The gap in skill alignment of Infra and DevOps team

Conclusion

Microservices architecture offers a unique kind of modularization, makes big solutions easier, increases productivity, offers flexibility in choosing technologies and is great for distributed teams. ISVs must analyze their data, innovate, and launch new products and services better and faster than their competitors. They need to be flexible to meet the changing needs of their customers. We have seen how an ISV can achieve its goal of growth using Microservices and how to adopt the right approach for migration. Microservices enablement just does not stop with the first step of migration. ISVs need to measure the benefits and optimize the implementations to eradicate the gaps. With the help of Techcello, companies developing Microservices will help your businesses by reducing engineering efforts by 50%. Techcello assists organizations to redefine their legacy models to a simple and agile architecture built on Microservices and the cloud.

We hope this white paper can provide you with perspectives to “Plan for ISV growth with Microservices”. Please feel free to email your feedback at info@techcello.com. Please visit www.techcello.com to know more.

Topics:
microservice architecture ,microservices application ,microservices

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