How Microservices Promote Resilience and Empower Development Teams

In part one of this series, we explored how microservices enable teams to dynamically scale certain components of their applications up and down without being forced to change the entire product. In part two, we’ll dive deep into how microservice architectures allow for increased levels of resilience, and empower development teams in the process. 

Microservices help build resilience 

Microservices are helping businesses across industries build more resilient architectures than they have ever seen before. This is thanks to the ways in which they facilitate continuous testing which reduces the likelihood of product errors and outages. 

When product teams use microservices for development, they are able to consider and test potential scenarios where microservices that they depend on are not available or functioning well. This approach promotes more resilient applications than within a monolith architecture, where failure in one component can easily drag a whole application down. 

As companies grow, they might have hundreds of servers running an application, along with thousands of software models, and a 100-person-strong team delivering it. With so much going on, it becomes inevitable that things will break. In this context, microservices minimize errors and outages thanks to built-in monitoring systems that trigger corrective actions and mitigations whenever the microservice is not behaving as it should. 

For example, if a personal movie recommendation microservice starts consuming excessive resources due to an internal error, the automatic monitoring system can turn it off before resources are depleted and the application crashes. Meanwhile, the microservice which displays UI will notice the unavailability of the recommendation component and react accordingly. This could be by displaying a default list of recommended titles, as opposed to the personalized list. While the user’s experience may drop slightly, seeing an unpersonalized list is a much better option than being presented with an error message as a result of an application crash. 

Netflix is famously open about its use of microservices within AWS and its “Chaos Monkey” approach to testing and system monitoring to build resilience. This is where Netflix intentionally disables individual microservices in the production environment in a controlled manner, in order to observe the behavior of the system and ensure that other microservices will carry on working during instance failures. Conducting these tests on the fly allows teams to know that if an individual component goes down, the rest of the platform will continue to work normally. 

This approach is especially revolutionary as it goes against the old mantra that development teams shouldn’t do testing in the production environment, which is the basis of the majority of major systems today. Microservices allow companies to shun this old rule and build resilience into their architectures. 

Microservices empower development teams 

When leveraging microservices, developers can use a diverse range of programming languages and technologies across the application. This means teams can make sure they use the right tools for the job and aren’t constrained by the preset standards of the monolith architecture. 

The same also goes for legacy components: Programmers can package them within microservices and use newer technologies to develop the rest of the system. This drives productivity within teams, and gives them more freedom and flexibility to work with the technologies they like. 

By being able to work using their preferred tools and according to their own schedules, the teams working on different applications within one product can simultaneously make changes, test, and conduct release cycles without impacting the remainder of the applications. This has the power to cut time-to-market while enabling teams to work more independently and progress rapidly, as developers can independently release their software to the customer without significantly impacting the work of other teams. 

This level of autonomy is an ideal environment for developers. Microservice architectures stay true to the concept of “you build it, you own it” within development as they build the entire functionality from start to finish. Microservices allow teams to develop, plan, test, release, monitor, and maintain their service autonomously, whereas in a monolith environment, this must be synchronized with the full team in order to release the application simultaneously. 

Microservices might be rising in popularity right now, but there’s no doubt that they’re here to stay in the long term too. For rapidly growing businesses that need dynamic scalability, flexibility, and resilience, the days of the monolith are numbered. 

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