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Microservices Tutorials: What Are They and How Do They Work?

by | Aug 8, 2018

Microservices architecture is a major trend in software development at the moment. What started in the early 2000s as a way to break up monolithic applications has become more clearly codified and accepted as an architecture pattern since 2011. The basic idea behind microservices is deconstructing an application into its component functions. A controlling API gateway or web application interface can then call each of these services independently. In addition, these services can share information with each other while operating on their own. The end result is easier maintenance and updates to the application and services are reusable across business applications.

This microservices tutorials round-up is meant to help beginners as well as those knowledgeable in microservices to take their experience to the next step.

Microservices Tutorials For Beginners

If you’re completely new to microservices it can be overwhelming to figure out how to start. The challenge is that microservices architecture can be quite complex, especially when many services need ways to talk to one another. Such a complex system requires coordination and understanding of the whole application and how the services fit together to produce a result. Luckily, there are some great beginner resources to fill in the blanks on your current understanding of microservices and help you think about how to approach your first microservices project.

An accessible introduction to the basics of microservices, without oversimplification, should be your first stop. This will help you get your footing and learn the core concepts behind the architecture.

Next, DZone’s introductory series will take you from noob to intermediate understanding of microservices over the course of a few articles. It’s probably the best introductory series for someone completely new to the architecture. It covers everything from rationale for the architecture to how to implement it, advantages, and challenges you might face along the way.

Finally, read Martin Fowler’s definitive intro to microservices if you’re an experienced dev or technical person (or once you’ve covered the other resources linked above). His guide dives more into the meat and arguments around microservices architecture.

 

Advantages: Why Use Microservices?

Microservices come with a number of benefits for the companies that deploy them. The first is that the code itself is often easier to understand. The communication channels between services can occasionally become complex, but each individual service is usually straightforward to understand and maintain. Since the services themselves are simple operators, developers can call them multiple times across the application in different scenarios. Each service is also independent, making changes, maintenance, and deployment simpler since you don’t have to refactor the entire application.

Microservices also mitigate risk. They avoid the lock-in that comes from dependence on a lone monolithic piece of software that’s critical to your business. Instead, changing, adding, or removing services is closer to plug-and-play development. Additionally, when the software shows vulnerabilities or fails tests, it’s easier to isolate those instances in a microservice structured application.

DZone has a great article exploring the implications and some case studies of microservices architectures and how they make business sense.

 

More Advanced Topics

If you understand the basics and are convinced by the benefits of microservices, then you’ll likely want to dig into more advanced topics. Microservices architecture isn’t right for every application, and there are drawbacks to the approach.

One challenge of microservices is getting various services to talk to one another effectively. The architecture paradigm is structured around the idea of dumb pipes that have smart endpoints. What that means is microservices typically rely on simple, standard communication protocols familiar in Unix or web development, such as HTTP requests. These “dumb” communication channels need to deliver information to the right places in the application, and too many crossed channels are a recipe for confusion.

If you’re thinking of implementing microservices into an application, check out Kasun Indrasiri’s article on guidelines for designing and integrating microservices in a pragmatic way. His approach combines the technical with the business motivations for using microservices. Another great resource is InfoWorld’s article on common microservices pitfalls for new implementations or integrations.

 

Spring Boot Microservices Architecture

Spring Boot is quickly gaining ground as a way to implement microservices for Java. Here are some of the top resources for Spring Boot:

 

Cloud-Based Microservices

All the top cloud service providers have added support for microservices. Here are the official documentation on microservices from each of the major providers:

 

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to learn about microservices, but hopefully this microservices tutorials round-up gave you a good introduction to this new trend in application architecture. Microservices make sense in situations where an application needs constant up-time, the ability to scale different services independently, or the option to call the same service in multiple scenarios and business applications. Needless to say, microservices are an important trend in software development, and any developer or technical professional would do well to at least understand the basics of the architecture underpinning some of the world’s largest applications.

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