A microservices approach to integration is becoming increasingly popular. Most companies are either considering the move or have already begun a technological overhaul. Microservices are key enablers of the scalability and agility that many organizations are looking to achieve with their digital transformation. However, they also come with a lot of questions – and challenges. Here are the top five questions that Eric Roch, principal of IT modernization at Perficient, gets asked by clients. Many of these were also covered in our recent webinar.
1. Based on your experience, what are the top three challenges with moving towards building microservices?
The main issue clients seem to experience is realizing the benefits early in the process when implementing microservices. There’s an eagerness to jump into new technology, but microservices has a lot of upfront prerequisites needed to make that investment pay off. Also, the technical complexity associated with a move to microservices from a traditional SOA/ESB environment can be challenging. Smart architects and developers can figure that out. But it is difficult to make cultural changes for approaches like Agile and DevOps required to make a mircoservices strategy successful. There is often a focus on the technical aspects when the cultural ones take longer to change. We tackle strategies to overcome the top four obstacles to success with microservices in a recent webinar with Manisha Datye, VP of the Integration Center of Excellence at TCF Bank.
2. What were the key metrics that were used to measure the success and ROI?
Many companies are looking at microservices as a means to implement their digital strategy. And that digital strategy is a business imperative for them – they have to do it or they will not be competitive or will be disrupted. I am sure Blockbuster would have liked to have the technology to compete with Netflix, but it was painfully obvious they did not. In terms of metrics, it is possible to look at microservices on a project basis, and that’s the way most companies look at ROI – project by project. There needs to be some initial investment in the foundation though, and that’s what needs justification and what is most often tied to the digital strategy – and the most difficult to measure . Also, look to some of the prerequisites as benefits in and of themselves – like Agility and DevOps in improving velocity and availability. For example, outages have a cost that you can show as an ROI metric.
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3. Could you give some business use cases/scenarios that were chosen as candidates for the microservices initiative and why?
Start simple early in the process with services that add business value. Customer-facing data is often a good place to start. Read-only services can provide information to web and mobile apps and be great candidates for early wins.
4. What were the next steps for an enterprise-wide roll out of microservices and its adoption?
Look at strategy, technology, and process. Strategy would include a business case and roadmap. For technology, look at the foundation and consider a lab approach that includes things like the DevOps tool chain. And for processes, look at improving velocity and moving towards a DevOps culture. Those steps will give you benefits throughout the microservices journey.
5. What’s the difference between SOA, APIs, and microservices?
They are all closely related and are part of an evolution towards modern applications. Complaints about SOA are often related to implementation issues. For example, the use of an ESB – which was a prevalent implementation choice but not the only choice, and many architects warned of problems with an ESB-centric approach. If you think of SOA as architecture, which is how it should be thought of, then microservices fits nicely within the architecture. But microservices has a new set of goals – agility, scale, and resilience. SOA’s goal was reuse. API management, on the other hand, is often strategic. For example, they are a means to productize and monetize business assets, but really APIs are an integration implementation. APIs should expose your SOA and microservices.
Listen to our recent webinar with TCF Bank on why they implemented microservices, how they mitigated top challenges, and laid a groundwork for success.