The microservices architecture has revolutionized application development and become extremely popular in the recent years. It is based on the idea of extracting large components into a set of loosely coupled, lightweight entities grouped by a purpose. Each of these components is responsible for its own specific functions and interacts with other components through an API.
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Breaking a monolith into separate, self-contained components allows organizations to increase productivity and make the development process more flexible. Developers gain greater control over their applications, while building and updating services faster, and making changes without worrying about the impact on application performance.
However, while all of these benefits are attractive, microservices migration itself is a complex process with a number of pitfalls that can lead to cost overruns, resource overload, and increased management complexity. A microservices architecture requires more effort and discipline to design, create, and manage it.
Why should you migrate to microservices from monolithic?
But first, let’s find out why many leading companies such as Amazon, Netflix, Uber, and Spotify have already implemented microservice architectures. With monolithic approach, the components tightly interrelated, so changes to a single line of code affect the whole application.t. Besides this, there are several drawbacks of monolithic architecture, including:
- Lack of flexibility and innovation
- No possibility to scale part of the system
- Difficulty applying new technologies
- Additional challenges to make updates/changes
- Component interdependence
On the contrary, microservices architecture is rapidly evolving to solve these problems of monolithic systems. Unlike old legacy systems, microservices are faster to develop and deploy. Moving to microservices also allows your organization to optimize resources, reduce downtime through fault isolation, provide flexibility in your choice of technical stack, offer easier scalability, improve collaboration between teams, and streamline business processes.
Pitfalls of microservices migration
The pitfalls may reside both in the organizational and technical aspects of the migration process. The most common pitfalls companies can face on an organizational level are:
- Rushing for migration before the actual need appears
- Not defining clear objectives and timeline
- Not enough or too much planning
- Starting migration with a lack of expertise
Those pitfalls can be avoided with common sense, proper planning, and having reliable experts on board. As for the technical pitfalls, they may be a bit harder to handle, so let’s dig deeper into each of those.
Pitfall 1: Inappropriate granularity levels
Determining the correct granularity is one of the biggest migration challenges. Too many small microservices can be hard to maintain and complicates deployment automation, workload scaling, and asynchronous communication configuration. Conversely, keeping the microservices too big would make migration meaningless as they would still be too large and complex to manage. In both scenarios, the division won’t bring the expected benefits.
Solution: Ensure your microservice implementation aligns well with the initial business goal behind each microservice. There is no fixed standard for sizing microservices, but you can start dividing into the larger services first and resize those further throughout the process.
Pitfall 2: Tightly Coupling Services
The idea behind microservices is to design self-sufficient components that work independently. But, it often happens that the services remain tightly coupled and dependent on each other, which contradicts the whole microservice concept. As a result, you get a monolith-like solution where any modular changes are difficult to make and require complex management efforts.
Solution: Сreate services that are as loosely coupled as possible to enable them to operate independently. Primarily, the services that are secondary, have regular updates, or require to be scaled up and down shouldn’t have many dependencies, in case it’s impossible to have all microservices independent.
Pitfall 3: Low resiliency
Microservices malfunction may be caused by multiple reasons, at different levels (the microservice itself, its container, and the network that connects the microservices), so resiliency becomes a challenge. If a microservice with some important functionality fails, it may frequently lead to complex intermediate states (e.g. the service crashed and can no longer be restarted) that are challenging to recover from. Although the corresponding microservices can be reset, transactions that were in progress must be recovered from a fault condition, which will require a lot of effort and additional time.
Solution: Safeguard observability at the infrastructure & application levels and set up corresponding backup mechanisms. The ability to log, monitor, and keep track of requests across the network allows you to control resiliency, check for causes of failures, and trigger automated recovery when needed. It’s a good idea to set up auto-recovery for your app at the container (e.g., reset it), microservice (e.g., resuming a connection pool), and app state-level (e.g. design application (service) to be resistant to the previous crashes, or even self-recoverable after them).
Pitfall 4: Security concerns
Microservices are potentially more vulnerable to certain threats than a monolithic app because the data is exchanged between services and you expose most of your application to the network, which could lead to potential cyberattacks. Microservices contain numerous APIs which also means more things to handle and can lead to easy access to confidential data and system controls.
Solution: Plan security monitoring & real-time feedback in advance, even before you start the migration. You will need to isolate services and data storage from the external network if possible. You can also minimize the exposure of sensitive data and set up authentication & access control to prevent attacks from spreading across your internal network.
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For a smooth transition to a microservices architecture, you will need experienced developers and a skilled IT architect in your team. In case you do not have the necessary experts on board, you can invest in corresponding training for your specialists, hire new team members with the required competence, and encourage your developers to take part in industry conferences, hackathons, specialized labs, etc. You can always partner with a software development outsourcing company that has a dedicated team on their board for hassle-free & safe migration.
Moreover, to set up your Cloud architecture, you will need to partner with DevOps specialists who have a proven track record of migration projects. The blend of DevOps and microservices enable organizations to deliver higher-quality software much faster. DevOps approach will allow you to turn your applications into microservice-based, scalable applications more quickly.