Agility, scalability and stability, this is the essence of microservices architecture (MSA). For enterprises seeking scalability, for developers seeking application agility, and for change agents seeking support for digital transformation initiatives, MSA is a key enabler.
In the inevitable journey of modernization, what microservices architecture has provided is the agility and scalability needed to make continuous changes rapidly. When transforming monolithic systems, using microservices for one service at a time has made it possible to showcase the business benefits to a broader audience. MSA has proven to be a key enabler to pursue innovation and digital transformation initiatives.
Given the positive business impact, why are microservices positioned in the "trough of disillusionment" in the recently released Gartner Research on Hype Cycle for Application Architecture and Development, 2019? For one thing, because driven by the enthusiasm to adopt what's trending many have misinterpreted the essence of microservices which has eventually led to unsuccessful implementation.
To take microservices out of the "trough of disillusionment" and to not make the same mistakes made by other application leaders, consider the following aspects before you begin your journey of modernization.
Understand the essence before adopting microservices
The meaning of microservices has been mistaken by many application leaders. The essence of microservices revolves around continuous delivery, stability, and scalability. Applying the principles of service-oriented architecture (SOA), microservices emerge from domain-driven design (DDD) and DevOps. Each microservice is a loosely coupled yet independently scalable and deployable application service that has a single responsibility and focus on delivering one business task.
Any service smaller than monolithic systems does not make a microservice. What many consider microservices is in disguise "headless API SaaS" or pseudo-microservices. Several vendors also resort to "microservice washing" the services they offer. When building solutions, application leaders need to understand and clarify whether genuine microservices are considered and not versions of reusable or shared application components or a version of SOA.
Partition only relevant services
One of the benefits of microservices is agility. By partitioning every service as a microservice, the complexity increases and negates the benefits. Application leaders need to carefully decide which components can be put into services to ensure implementation is done in phases.
To get the most out of microservices, the multiple granularities of applications need to be identified. It would then be easier to decide which components can be partitioned as services. In this way, microservices can provide the granularity of services and the opportunity for better application development and release planning.
Consider the organizational and cultural changes required
Microservices architecture is complex and has disruptive organizational, technical and cultural impact. When the ownership of the entire lifecycle of an application or product is in the hands of developers, application leaders need to ensure the roles and responsibilities are defined and governance practices are established. The organization structure and cultural mindset have to be realigned to enable the successful adoption of this new approach to application development, deployment, and delivery.
Ensure teams are adequately trained
Microservices architecture is fast evolving and new patterns, design principles, concepts, and tools are introduced. With changes in the technology stack used, sharing of knowledge across teams must be encouraged. Developers, architects, and DevOps professionals need to be trained to use new software programs and application lifecycle management techniques. To empower development teams to innovate and deliver more, application leaders are using modern technologies such as low-code platforms to make full-stack development easier.
Improve agile development practices
The prerequisites of a microservices architecture are agile DevOps and continuous delivery practices. Before adopting microservices, enterprises must ensure they improve their agile development practices and methodologies. In digital transformation implementations, enterprise agility is a prerequisite. Rapid application development platforms are increasingly being used to improve agile practices because they leverage low-code technologies and use open standards-based technology stack to ensure digital transformation implementations are successful.
Application leaders need to first understand the essence, objectives, and applicability of microservices. Once this is clear, they need to implement microservices iteratively, one service at a time. One of the main reasons why microservices implementations fail is because application leaders have in the past adopted microservices without making changes (organizational, cultural, and technical). To transform enterprises and align them to the main goals of agility and scalability, change is inevitable. Successful microservices implementation requires commitment, discipline, in-depth understanding, and openness to venture into a steep learning curve. Application leaders need to use this formula and embrace change if they wish to move microservices out of the "trough of disillusionment".
As an application leader or change agent, we understand that an IT modernization initiative is not an easy feat. Continue reading to know how you can add the catalyst to change and to know how and where to start your journey of modernization when migrating from monolith to microservices architecture.