“Many times the overarching view of an application is based on ‘tribal knowledge’ or cobbled together from a collection of disparate tools”
In the bid to achieve scalability, cost-efficiency and higher application performance, many organisations migrate to the cloud. Many, also, start using microservices. IDC estimates 60 percent of worldwide enterprises are migrating existing applications to the cloud, and with the promise of greater flexibility, a reduction in overhead, and the potential for significant cost savings, it makes a lot of sense.
Instead of using a “lift and shift” approach – simply moving an existing application to a cloud platform – many businesses use this period as an opportunity to modernise their application architecture.
Microservices is a term that’s gaining increasing traction in the UK and globally when businesses think about their digital transformation strategies. It refers to a concept whereby individual parts of an application are constructed as discrete, modular building blocks. Breaking a monolithic application into manageable microservices allows development teams to rapidly respond to an ever-evolving set of business requirements, choose the right technology stack for each task, and readily provide support for a variety of delivery platforms, including web, mobile, and native apps. For modern enterprises, microservices is becoming mainstream – and rightly so.
While using microservices bring great benefits, below are three common challenges enterprises often face in the transition, as well as solutions to help mitigate these risks:
Challenge 1: How to Identify What Needs to be Migrated to Microservices
Before you can begin refactoring your application out into individual microservices, you need to first understand its full scope and architecture.
This can prove challenging as many times the overarching view of the application is based on “tribal knowledge” or cobbled together from a collection of disparate tools. Sometimes a more holistic view may be available but is based on outdated information which does not reflect the current architecture of the application.
You need to find a solution that will help you discover and map every component, dependency, and third-party call of your application. With such a solution, you can understand the relationship of these pieces and how each impacts your application’s behaviour and user experience. Armed with this information you’ll have a clear picture of what needs to be migrated, how to prioritise refactoring of code and will be able to make more informed decisions regarding the architecture of your microservices.
Challenge 2: Ensuring Your Microservices Exceed Performance Expectations
To ensure your application runs smoothly, without impacting user experience, you need to find a way to compare performance metrics from pre and post-migration.
This can be extremely difficult as the architecture of these two environments (with the changes to hardware and the move to a distributed architecture) can look drastically different.
To make things even more complicated, many monitoring tools are domain (e.g. server, network) or environment specific e.g. supplied by the individual hosting provider, which means they only give insight into only a small portion of the entire architecture and have no way of creating a more holistic set of data.
To combat these issues and to establish a consistent baseline by which to measure your performance and user experience, you will need to capture key user interactions (often referred to as business transactions), for example Login, Search, prior to beginning your migration. The business transactions are likely to remain the same through migration whereas other metrics may change as you refactor and deploy on different infrastructures. Armed with baseline data about your business transactions, you can easily compare the performance of your pre and post-migration environments and ensure that there is no impact to your user experience or overall performance.
Challenge 3: Monitoring your New Microservice s Environment
With large monolithic applications running a single codebase on a few pieces of hardware, two or three tools could once provide complete, straightforward monitoring of performance and availability.
However, with the introduction of microservices, and the potential for each service to implement its own solution for technology stack, database, and hosting provider, a single service may now result in a far greater number of monitoring tools than the entire application once did.
Microservices monitoring brings specific challenges too: they are often short-lived, which means monitoring over a longer period can be more complicated; and there may be more interactions with the service, potentially exposing issues such as thread contention.
Finally, while development teams previously didn’t require a monitoring solution which took infrastructure into account, the move to DevOps and the reliance on cloud native technologies means this factor can no longer be ignored.
Changes in consumer behaviour and expectations have been the catalysts for technology trends including cloud computing and mobile device adoption. While the change of pace can be dizzying for many, as the need for speed in application development is greater than ever before. The goal for any business looking to successfully start using microservices as a part of its cloud migration strategy is to find a unified monitoring platform that supports all your environments, regardless of language or technology stack. This solution must collate metrics from across your application and infrastructure into one place and allow for correlation of those metrics to user experience.
To achieve business growth and to meet KPIs and desired outcomes, businesses must continue to embrace microservices as a key facilitator for innovation. Now’s the time to reap the rewards of a modernised architecture.