Let’s talk applications for a second. We all use them, they’re a part of our everyday lives, and we all feel that they’re absolutely critical to our productivity. In today’s always-on world, apps and services are the core delivery mechanism of content and data that we absolutely rely upon. That said, new concepts force digitally-native organizations to constantly reevaluate core applications and how they’re being delivered.

As organizations grow and users evolve, applications developed just a few years ago can already be seen as legacy. Furthermore, they become even more complex and challenging to manage. As many organizations are realizing, trying to be agile with an application or a service that’s just a giant ball of mud can be exceedingly frustrating and challenging. How do you develop new services? How do you scale to support your business? What can you do to reduce release cycles and improve performance?

In my experience, these are major reasons why leaders are sitting down and asking the application modernization questions. These projects may not be easy, they may take some time, and they will absolutely touch some of your business’s most critical components. But, to stay competitive in a digital market – this has to be done.

One great way to accomplish this is through the deployment of microservices.

Before you glaze over too much now that I’ve mentioned yet another technology and marketing term, let’s pause here so you can actually understand what microservices do. To get to that point, we’ll dive into your application, how it’ll become transformed via microservices, and what the end state will actually look like.

First, it’s important to understand your initial state. This is your application as it sits today. You operate with modules of functions and services that try to interact together. You’ll likely have some challenges around release cycles and even feature upgrades. In this monolithic state, you’ll have to do some reworking just to get an update done. Within your application and the application backend, you’ll have modules that are carrying out various types of functions that are minimally controlled. At this point, it’s challenging to scale, forecast demand, monitor service health, and even scale into cloud.

Monolith to Microservices

  • Step 1: Splitting legacy application modules and components into microservices. In this first step, you’ll be sitting down with your architects, engineers, and DevOps team. You’ll take a close look at your application and really understand all of the individual features, modules, and components that you have. From there, you’ll begin to redesign the application into a set of services with very limited responsibilities. To do this, you’ll be doing step-by-step functionality extraction to specific services into documented interfaces. Once you design those services, the remaining parts of the application will be refactored to use these newly introduced services. All of these new services will be developed and will live within the same application infrastructure.
  • Step 2: Introducing the microservices infrastructure. At this point, you’ll know which parts of your application are now designed into specific services with very set responsibilities. Now, you’ll start to really design these microservices. Within the infrastructure, you’ll leverage tools like network monitoring, CPU usage, services health checks, and so on. You’ll also use things like auto-discovery to provide the ability to register key services, instances, and create the communication chain between services and the consumers of those services. From there, you’ll gather statistics in real-time and provide those back to administrators and developers in a user-friendly way. Finally, all of the extracted application services will now be moved into your newly developed microservices architecture. Remember, this can be on-premise, in a hybrid architecture, or the public cloud.
  • Step 3: Repeating step 1 and step 2 for all modules and legacy components. So, you just did all of this for one application feature or function. You’ll now need to do this for the remaining functions as well. At this point, the process of services extraction will be executed until all application features will be covered by your new approach.
  • Step 4: Achieving your target state with an elastic and highly scalable solution. At this point, you’re providing application functionality through a set of microservices. Other core aspects of the design might be an API gateway which helps provide functions and features to the front-end and the consumer of the respective microservices. It’s an important piece of the design as the API gateway aggregates required data and preps it for specific requirements.

At this point, you’ll have a happy and agile application. Most of all, you’ll have a much happier DevOps team that no longer fears release cycles and can support your growing requirements. You’ll be able to release features quickly, focus on core services within the application, and introduce an entirely new way to scale into the cloud.

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