Category Archives: Architecture

Microservices Architecture: Benefits, Challenges, Design Patterns, Tools, and Best Practices

This blog covers a high-level introduction to the concept of microservices and how they differ from traditional monolithic architectures.

What are microservices?

  • Microservices are a way of designing software systems as a collection of independent, modular components
  • Each component, or microservice, is designed to perform a specific function and can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently of the others
  • Microservices communicate with each other through APIs, which can be accessed over a network

Why use microservices?

  • Improved scalability:
    • New instances of a microservice can be added as demand increases, rather than requiring a single, monolithic application to be scaled vertically
    • This can make a system more resilient, as the failure of a single component is less likely to affect the entire system
  • Improved flexibility:
    • The modular nature of microservices allows for more rapid iteration and deployment of new features
    • This is particularly useful in fast-paced and highly dynamic environments
    • Allows for a more agile approach to software development: Microservices can be developed and maintained by different teams, allowing organizations to be more responsive to changing business needs

Challenges of using microservices

  • Testing can be more complex:
    • It can be more difficult to test the interactions between multiple microservices than a single, monolithic application
    • This may require more complex testing strategies, such as integration testing and end-to-end testing
  • Deployment can be more complex:
    • Coordinating the deployment of multiple microservices can be more complex than deploying a single application
    • This may require more sophisticated deployment pipelines and processes
  • Monitoring can be more complex:
    • It can be more difficult to monitor the performance and health of multiple microservices than a single application
    • This may require more sophisticated monitoring and alerting systems
  • Microservices can require more infrastructure:
    • A microservices architecture may require more infrastructure to support the deployment and operation of multiple microservices
    • This can increase the complexity and cost of operating a microservices-based system

Examples of successful microservices implementations

  • Netflix: Netflix has implemented a highly scalable and resilient microservices architecture to support its streaming service This has allowed Netflix to quickly roll out new features and updates to its service without disrupting the entire system
  • Amazon: Amazon has used microservices to enable the rapid iteration and deployment of new features for its e-commerce platform
  • Uber: Uber has implemented a microservices architecture to support its ride-sharing platform

Considerations for implementing microservices

  • Identify the appropriate granularity: Each microservice should be focused on a specific function, but it should not be so granular that it becomes difficult to maintain and scale
  • Design APIs carefully: The APIs that microservices use to communicate with each other should be well-designed and easy to use
  • Choose the right technology stack: It is important to choose the right technology stack for each microservice, based on its specific requirements and the needs of the overall system
  • Consider the impact on your organization: A microservices architecture may require changes to the way your organization approaches software development and operations, so it is essential to carefully consider the impact on your teams and processes

Design patterns that can be used when implementing microservices

There are several design patterns that are commonly followed when building microservices-based systems:

  1. Single Responsibility Principle: Each microservice should be focused on a specific function and have a single responsibility. This helps to ensure that microservices are modular and easy to understand, maintain, and scale.
  2. API Gateway: An API gateway is a microservice that acts as a reverse proxy, routing requests to the appropriate microservice and handling tasks such as authentication, rate limiting, and caching.
  3. Service Registry: A service registry is a microservice that maintains a directory of all the other microservices in the system, allowing them to discover and communicate with each other.
  4. Load Balancer: A load balancer is a microservice that distributes incoming requests evenly across multiple instances of a microservice, improving scalability and availability.
  5. Circuit Breaker: A circuit breaker is a microservice that acts as a fail-safe, preventing other microservices from repeatedly attempting to call a microservice that is unavailable or experiencing errors.
  6. Retry Pattern: The retry pattern is a technique for handling transient errors, such as temporary network outages or resource contention. It involves retrying a request to a microservice if it fails, rather than immediately returning an error to the caller.
  7. Bulkhead: A bulkhead is a technique for isolating critical resources, such as database connections, to prevent a single resource from being overwhelmed and causing a cascading failure.

Tools that can be used for implementing microservices

There are many tools that can be used to build and operate microservices-based systems, including:

  1. Containerization platforms: Containerization platforms, such as Docker, allow developers to package microservices and their dependencies into lightweight containers that can be easily deployed and scaled.
  2. Cluster management platforms: Cluster management platforms, such as Kubernetes, allow organizations to automate the deployment, scaling, and management of microservices across multiple servers.
  3. API management platforms: API management platforms, such as Kong or Tyk, provide features such as authentication, rate limiting, and caching for microservices APIs.
  4. Service mesh platforms: Service mesh platforms, such as Istio or Linkerd, provide features such as service discovery, traffic management, and observability for microservices-based systems.
  5. Monitoring and alerting tools: Monitoring and alerting tools, such as Prometheus or Datadog, allow organizations to monitor the performance and health of their microservices-based systems and receive alerts when issues arise.

In conclusion, microservices architecture can offer significant benefits for organizations looking to improve the scalability, resilience, and flexibility of their software systems. While it is not without its challenges, the benefits of a well-designed microservices architecture can be significant, as demonstrated by successful implementations in organizations such as Netflix, Amazon, and Uber. Suppose you are considering implementing a microservices architecture. In that case, it is important to carefully consider the granularity of your microservices, design your APIs carefully, choose the right technology stack, and consider the impact on your organization.

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Checklist when you are reviewing a product – technically and architecturally

When reviewing a product technically and architecturally, what are the important aspects that you can think off is listed below (with my experience). The list is just my compilation and in no way exhaustive. It also is not very structurally arranged but these aspects are quite important when such a review is being conducted. If this is useful information that you are looking for, please comment and i will make sure to expand each item more in detail, either as a new blog post or keep adding additional points in this same blog.

  1. Technical Standards alignment
  2. Maintainability aspects (Architectural patterns)
  3. Code Review, Coding standards
  4. Documentation
    1. System Architecture (Architecture Documentation)
      1. Technology View (Version of all Software’s)
        1. Logical architecture (Technically fully explained)
        2. Third party products used, if so Licensing details
      2. Data View
      3. Deployment View
      4. System component Interaction (Component diagram)
    2. Detailed Design Document
    3. Code Documentation
    4. Road Map (Software and technology used)
    5. Details of various exposed web services
    6. Details of other exposed interfaces
  5. Issue tracking system
    1. Dump required, it gives you
      1. Project Health
      2. Various other matrixes
  6. Basic SDLC followed
  7. Basic Configuration management followed
    1. Source Control
    2. Build mechanism
    3. Deployment mechanism
  8. Modularity of code
    1. OSGI capability (Deploying, starting, restarting modules individually)
  9. Performance and availability
    1. Load testing data
    2. Typical deployment time
  10. Logging and Auditing
    1. Transaction auditing
    2. Transaction logging
  11. Non-Functional requirements
    1. Document detailing this
    2. Parameters considered
    3. Any drawbacks
  12. Security
    1. Aspects considered
  13. Architecture overview
    1. Various layers (Client layer, Protocol adapter layer, service layer, business service layer, persistence layer, external interface layer)
    2. Various technology used in each layer
    3. Presentation tier, business tier, database tier, enterprise storage
    4. Components (Functionality – Tools mapping)
      1. Persistence
      2. Transaction management
      3. Job Management
      4. Security
      5. Locking
      6. Audit
      7. Caching
      8. Logging
      9. Web Presentation
      10. Software Distribution
      11. Reports
      12. Health Check & Monitoring
    5. Interface and messaging
      1. Support (web Services, XML, Proprietary)
      2. Modes supported (Email, FTP, MQ, TIBCO)
    6. Connection pooling
    7. Encryption
    8. Performance
    9. Distributed DB
    10. DB backup mechanism
    11. Inter module communication
      1. Dependency, coupling and cohesion
    12. ESB
  14. Architecture framework
    1. Objectives
    2. Approach
    3. Principles
  15. Customization carried for each client
    1. How is source code for each client maintained
    2. Code customization and reuse
    3. Product stack
  16. Standard SDLC in case of complex business process which encompasses multiple components/modules
  17. How are different modules maintained
    1. Teams
    2. Team size
    3. Team composition
  18. Business validation
    1. Approach followed
    2. Declarative or code based
  19. Any existing standards commonly available used while design. Eg. IATA
  20. Can existing application be migrated to this product
    1. SDLC followed
    2. Steps carried out
  21. Integration of system with external legacy systems
    1. Strategy followed
    2. Interface design mechanism
  22. Does it support user preferences?
    1. Favorite screens
    2. Various defaults like date formats, time formats etc.
  23. Application level basic setup configurations
    1. Configuration based
    2. Code based
  24. Authentication and authorization
    1. Level of authorization
    2. Screen based and functionality based
    3. Screen opening in view only mode
    4. Editable based on user role
  25. Internationalization
  26. Workflow
    1. Technology used
  27. Emails
    1. Technology used
  28. Branding for various customers
    1. SDLC followed
    2. How much time it takes to do minimal brand changes
    3. Can customers do the brand changes by their own
    4. Various mails and other configurations (user agreements, disclaimers) how can the customization done?
  29. Any content management system used?
  30. How is web session maintained?
    1. Offloaded to DB?
    2. Memory?
  31. Instant messenger support (web chat)
  32. Specific printers support (Dot matrix etc.)
  33. Barcode generation support
    1. Technology/third party software used
  34. How is various masters taken care?
    1. External sources
    2. Internally maintained
    3. If external customers require data to be sourced from external sources, is it supported?
  35. Different types of data integration mechanism used
    1. Web Services
    2. DB links etc.
  36. Business intelligence capabilities
  37. Data purging mechanism used
    1. Strategy followed
    2. Operational & archive DB
  38. Application hosting models used
  39. Details of exposed web services
  40. Testing capabilities
  41. Integration with ESB’s
  42. System exceptions, error handling and monitoring
    1. Exception classification
    2. Details available for debugging and root cause analysis
      1. User details
      2. Transaction details
      3. Severity
      4. Name of the server in clustered environment
      5. Transaction type – Asynchronous and synchronous
  43. Development environments, explain what is process followed
    1. Test
    2. Stage
    3. Production
  44. Transaction metering (quantity)
  45. TPS and Response time monitoring
  46. Clustering capabilities (Session replication)
    1. Scalability
    2. High-availability
    3. Load balancing
    4. Failover
    5. Fault tolerance
      1. Oracle data grid
      2. Storage level replication
  47. System performance and scalability
  48. Load test methodology – Process used
    1. Smoke test – to understand system behavior
    2. Single instance stress test – to understand the first breaking point
    3. Load test – simulating real life usage
    4. Endurance test – Assess the behavior of the application over longer periods
    5. Application profiling – to understand root cause of the problems caused
  49. Application benchmarking – How is it done?
    1. Users
    2. Machines
    3. CPU utilization
    4. Statistics
    5. SQL’s per second
    6. Transactions per second
    7. Availability percentage
    8. Business transactions per month
  50. Usability considerations
  51. Encryption methodologies used
    1. One way encryption – default algorithm used?
    2. Symmetric (private key) encryption – default algorithm used?
    3. Asymmetric (public key-private key) encryption – default algorithm used?
  52. User authentication mechanisms
    1. Active directory
    2. Single sign on mechanisms
    3. LDAP
  53. Certified platforms
    1. Operating systems
    2. Servers
    3. DB
    4. Browsers
  54. Recommended deployment models available
  55. Approximate planned outage
    1. Time
    2. Process
  56. Roadmap and planned software migrations
  57. Lessons learnt, how is it documented
  58. Bandwidth requirements
    1. Minimum
  59. Workstation configuration
    1. Minimum
  60. Source code maintenance
    1. Tools used
  61. Hosting models available
  62. Horizontal and vertical scaling capabilities
  63. Mobile support available?
  64. Rolling back of implemented delivery – Any process?
  65. Ensuring IT security standards – how is it achieved?
  66. For PCI relevant solution components is it certified according to PCI DSS?
  67. Training materials
    1. For train the trainer
  68. Disaster Recovery
    1. Deployment topologies
    2. Testing methodologies for testing DR

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