The App Architecture Revolution: Microservices, Containers and Automation

The App Architecture Revolution: Microservices, Containers and Automation

While we’ve seen cloud native pioneers such as Uber, Netflix, Ebay, and Twitter publicly embrace this method of building and delivering their services, many organizations aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to achieving effective and efficient operations through this app architecture revolution.

Scott Davis is EVP of Engineering & Chief Technology Officer for Embotics.

With the explosive growth of cloud and SaaS-based business applications and services, the underlying software architectures used to construct these applications are changing dramatically. Microservices architecture is not a brand new trend but has been picking up momentum as the preferred architecture for constructing cloud native applications. Microservices provide ways to break apart large monolithic applications into sets of small, discrete components that facilitate independent development and operational scaling. Key to this architecture is making sure that each microservice handles one and only one function with a well defined API. Microservices must also have no dependencies on each other except for their APIs.

When mixed with automation as a dynamic management solution for the individual application components, applications become less limited by the infrastructure they run on. Through automation and infrastructure as code technologies, applications now have the ability to control their underlying infrastructure technologies, turning them into services to be harnessed on demand and programmatically during application execution. While we’ve seen cloud native pioneers such as Uber, Netflix, Ebay, and Twitter publicly embrace this method of building and delivering their services, many organizations aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to achieving effective and efficient operations through this app architecture revolution.

Before microservices, it would take engineers months or years to build and maintain large monolithic applications, but today microservices’ design methodology makes it easier to develop systems with reusable components that can be utilized by multiple applications and services throughout the organization, saving developers valuable time. This enables better continuous delivery, as small units are easier for developers to manage, test and deploy.

In order to successfully deliver microservices and container solutions cost-effectively and at scale, it’s important to have a proper design framework in mind. Microservices must have a well formed, backward and forward compatible  API and only communicate with its peers through their API. Each Microservice should perform one and only one dedicated function. Each microservice is ideally stateless and if needed typically has its own dedicated persistent state that is not exposed to others. When all of these principles are rigorously followed, each microservice can be deployed and scaled independently because they do not require  information about the internal implementation of any other services – all that is required is that they have well-defined APIs.

At the same time, microservices are well matched to and driving the adoption of container technologies as the two often work in conjunction. Each microservice has to run somewhere, and containers are often the preferred choice because they are self-contained, rapidly provisioned or cloned, and usually stateless. Developers can easily construct a container with all the required code to execute the microservice, allowing them to break a problem into smaller pieces, which was not previously possible at this scale. Containers offer developers a way to package their function into this self-contained block of code, creating efficient, isolated and decoupled execution engines for each app and service.

The problem? This creates more component parts that need to be dynamically managed to achieve their promise of scalable, cost-effective cloud services. Automation can provide the dynamic management needed to deliver microservices and container solutions cost effectively and at scale. With microservices-based designs, developers and operations staff are left with many more component parts that need to grow and shrink independently. Automation can be harnessed to reduce this complexity and deliver the desired results.

Microservices-based designs fundamentally enable faster development and deployment of highly scalable applications, whether for the cloud or on-premise. Flexible automation via both portals and APIs is the key ingredient for effectively deploying and managing these next generation, distributed applications, across today’s multi-cloud environments.

Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Penton.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.
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