James Thew - Fotolia
When organizations develop microservice applications, developers do not write and provision the entire app all at once. Instead, they combine collections of functional components as needed to facilitate particular functions. This difference means an organization can update processes far more easily than it could through a monolithic enterprise application.
However, the benefits of this development approach don't come automatically. To introduce microservices and manage microservice applications effectively, organizations need to focus on three major areas of their development architecture: their component directory, the flexibility of their services and their ability to maintain backwards compatibility.
First developers need access to a comprehensive directory of available functional components throughout the entire development process. This directory should contain available private functions -- specifically those developed and supported in house -- as well as any cloud-provided functions. This directory should plug into the developers' tools, as well. Puppet, Jenkins, GitLab and Atlassian are examples of provisioning tools designed with this plug-in need in mind.
Developers also need a way to pull all their desired components together in the right place at the right time. This demand means that they also need full orchestration capabilities. While many provisioning tools have a comprehensive amount of built-in orchestration features, organizations may still want to consider orchestration-focused tools like Kubernetes or Jenkins.
Complete flexibility is a must-have for microservice applications. If an organization takes a bunch of functional components and hard-wires them together, they are not necessarily any better off than when they used monolithic enterprise applications. What they really need is the capability to switch modules in and out as required. This capability would allow them to replace one chunk of functionality with a new one whenever needed, without the need for recompilations or massive retro-testing.
However, the microservices need to be stateless if developers wish to achieve complete flexibility. Another stipulation also exists: Any directories that point to a microservice need to understand how to transmit requesting calls and deal with incoming response data. These stipulations also mean that an incredibly high level of responsibility is put on microservice application developers to ensure that they support open standards and standardized APIs in order to make their microservices accessible to other development and testing teams.
Reliable backward compatibility
Service reuse comes with another liability: If a microservice changes, it can impact tens or even hundreds of other composite applications. Developers must make sure to devise a reliable plan for backward compatibility as they cultivate their microservices. Again, orchestration is the key. An effective orchestration tool like Kubernetes should allow developers to identify all the dependencies that surround the microservice, and check for any inconsistencies.