6 Practical Uses for a Microservices Architecture
Microservices architecture can offer a variety of advantages for certain types of large applications compared to traditional monolithic architecture, including independent service scaling capabilities, better fault isolation, independent deployment, and technology stack flexibility. However, it’s important to note that the microservices architecture isn’t appropriate for every application, no matter how large it may be. Like any technology consideration, one must weigh the benefits it will deliver against its associated expenses and risks. Some use cases stand out in general above others including:
Legacy application modernization – Taking a microservices approach can make adding new functionality to a large legacy system easier. It’s also instrumental when needing to change functionality in legacy systems. The desired new business functionality is created as one or more microservices and then connected to the legacy system. For example, if you needed to extend a system to support new external partners, markets, or devices, you could use microservices to create co-existing new services for your existing modules as you incrementally modernize the rest of the application into a microservices architecture to minimize risk.
Big data applications – Big data should be collected, ingested, processed, and delivered using a data pipeline-oriented architecture. Microservices naturally fit within this type of architecture since each step in a data pipeline handles one small task. Applications for microservices in big data include detecting misuse of credit and debit cards, traffic management, adaptive learning, and the examination of food-based infections.
Solutions requiring real-time processing – A publish-subscribe framework sits at the core of a microservices architecture. This framework enables data processing in real-time, which is essential to delivering immediate output and insights for applications such as electronic banking, customer service systems, radar systems, and data streaming.
Rapid growth organizations – The agility to scale efficiently and reuse data and code makes microservices essential in rapid growth organizations such as social networks, health organizations, finance organizations, and consumer goods companies. Scaling agility is enabled by the microservices making it easier to identify scaling bottlenecks and resolve them at a per-microservice level. Code and data reuse is enabled by the modular architecture, which eliminates the need to build standard pieces of functionality used across the organization multiple times by enabling cross-cutting business functionality and makes it easier to deploy more data-driven use cases and solutions for added business value.
Advanced analytics environments – Advanced analytics environments, including those for machine learning, manufacturing, and energy need ways to assess their existing computational models against newly created models before making the switch to them. A microservices architecture enables users to validate their updated computational models using A-B and multivariate testing.
RAM or CPU-intensive parts of an application – Examples of these kinds of services include natural language processing pipelines, large geographical indexes or dictionaries, and trained models. Services of this nature tend to be impractical to run every time a developer starts the application they are working on. It may even be problematic to redeploy and restart in a production environment. Separating them is justified if they change rarely.
The other critical point to keep in mind when considering the use of microservices is that it doesn’t always make sense to start out a new application project with this type of architecture. Most new applications are relatively small in terms of overall size, and the future growth needs are not well defined enough to justify the expense and risks involved in utilizing microservices from day one. This is not a hard rule, but a recommended point for careful consideration as you plan your projects.
For real-world examples of companies using microservices, check out the stories from Spotify, Netflix, Groupon, and Karma.
The development team at QAT Global works with clients to determine the appropriateness of this type of architecture for their existing and new applications and helps them move forward on the appropriate path. If you’re considering implementing microservices in your organization, please contact us today to discuss your project.