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The Top Issues with Microservices

Posted by RevDeBug

Microservices are how organizations create their empire, enabling them to become virtually limitless in creating cloud applications and meeting the demands of an ever-growing customer base.

While microservices isn’t exactly a new phenomenon in the land of technology, it’s something that has evolved to a point where monolithic applications are becoming obsolete. In this article, we’re going to discuss what microservice architecture is and the primary issues that organizations face when implementing microservices. 

Read on to learn more.

What Is Microservices, Exactly?

To put it simply, microservices is a term that encompasses a microservice architecture. The purpose is to have a distinctive method of developing software systems that have the capacity to focus on building single-function modules that have well-defined interfaces and operations.

Applications can be arranged as a collection or loosely coupled services. Each protocol is “lightweight,” meaning they have leaner payloads when being transmitted over an internet connection. This makes it easier and faster to manage all the protocols within a microservice architecture over a wide area network.

A familiar microservices example in action would be Amazon. In the very beginnings of the online market empire, Amazon’s retail website behaved as one single—and giant—monolith application. 

This application was comprised of tightly connected multi-tiered services, which eventually needed to be “detangled” by developers in order to scale and upgrade Amazon’s systems enabling it to reach its fullest potential.

To reach the requirements of its rapidly growing customer base, Amazon developers had to break down the monolithic applications into smaller, independently-running, and service-specific applications.

Hence, microservices.

The Main Issues with Microservices

While the benefits of breaking down monolithic applications into microservice architectures—improved scalability, increased resilience, quicker time to market, and so on—implementing microservices can present quite a few challenges for developers and organizations.

The following are some of the greatest challenges that businesses face when implementing microservices: 

Managing Microservices

Microservices continue to increase as organizations continue to grow. The higher the number of microservices, the more difficult it becomes to manage them. When microservices are poorly managed, things can become complicated quickly, despite the single-function modules that define them.

Much of the management issues that go awry with microservices tend to do so during the initial stages of conversion from monolithic applications. This is especially true for organizations that have in-house developers programming microservices management modules on their own. 

That’s why it’s usually suggested that large organizations implement an already-proven platform with excellent microservices management capabilities for a smoother transition.

Monitoring Microservices

Microservice architectures require newer forms of monitoring and diagnostics as the traditional methods won’t function properly. This is largely due to the fact that microservices encompass multiple services rather than a single application. This is when RevDeBug comes in handy - read more.

That also means that when an issue occurs within an application, finding the root cause can be challenging if you haven’t implemented the proper means to monitor and track each path of a request. For example, you would need to track the specific path of a request from the respective user interface to learn how many and which microservices were crossed to accomplish the said request.

Organizations tend to have the most difficulty with analyzing the chain of communication across their newly implemented microservices where the issues first sprang up.   

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DevOps Culture

A lack of DevOps culture can hinder the time it takes to successfully implement microservice architecture within an organization—not to mention every update and big fix thereafter. There need to be several teams working on the transformation.

Additionally, these teams must possess the agility, full autonomy, and capacity for continuous delivery to be able to roll out timely updates as well as the initial release. 

Fault Tolerance

Fault tolerance is a critical aspect of microservices implementation. Fault tolerance ensures that an individual service or several individual services aren’t able to hinder or shut down the overall system completely. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to microservices, failure is inevitable because the entire microservices architecture depends on a chain of complex systems. So, at both a service level and a solution level, microservices must be able to withstand all external and internal failures. 

Microservices Testing

Because microservices is such a complex system of individual services, its testing must be incredibly robust to ensure adequate preparedness. This requires all team members involved in the implementation to be knowledgeable and experienced in terms of all channels of communication since they’ll have to test the individual services, their integrations, and their interdependencies.   

Microservices testing is a feat within itself. The greatest issue with microservices testing is that it doesn’t result in predictive behaviors. The entire process is also lengthy, which is why it’s broken down into several components between pre-production and production. 

You can read more in-depth about microservices testing here. It’s quite complicated, which goes to show its importance—and level of difficulty.

Failure Scenarios

Failure scenarios are often overlooked when implementing microservices because it’s a counter-intuitive concept. However, predicting failure scenarios during the design stage is actually the key to a successful implementation of the new architecture. 

Without failure scenarios, your team won’t have an operation manual, so to speak, to provide quicker solutions for the things that can go wrong. Of course, planning these types of scenarios are incredibly complicated since it’s difficult to seek out predictive behaviors. 

Cyclic Dependencies

Since microservice architecture works as a chain of individual services that in some way depend on one another, the management across the different services and how they function can become excruciatingly problematic if something goes wrong.

In other words, cyclic dependencies must be managed appropriately in that they must be easily identifiable as well as quickly resolved when an issue arises. These cycles are most dangerous when they involve the mechanisms used to access and modify a service because a broken service can’t be repaired if that service is disabled. 

Adopting new technology comes with great responsibility, and microservices present quite a large responsibility in their undertaking. The real challenge that microservices present us with is forcing us to become reacquainted with how our applications and systems function at their core. Once the architecture is understood on a fundamental level and implemented properly, it will benefit your organization immensely.