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PERSPECTIVE

MICROSERVICES –
A NEW APPLICATION PARADIGM

Abstract
Microservices Architecture is introducing the concept of developing
functionality as a number of small self-contained services. This
paper intends to clarify the implications of adopting this approach,
appropriate usage, and how microservices can change an
organization’s approach to integration and delivering functionality
through the digital channel.
New Integration Model or New Application Paradigm

Microservices is a software architecture is in contrast to the traditional approach can be used to decouple the layers and
and delivery paradigm that delivers for software application delivery, which is support the different delivery velocities.
functionality by composing a number of to build, integrate, and test applications Microservices is a mechanism to try and
small runtime services. Although perceived as a single integrated monolithic push some of this digital agility back into
as a new paradigm, the concept can be deployment – even if the application the core functionality, and align well
traced back to the early days of the Unix provides a set of service interfaces. The with agile delivery and the DevOps
Operating System which was developed as microservices approach facilitates faster operating model.
a collection of small, simple, and delivery of smaller incremental changes
discrete functions. to an application, at the cost of increased These days the term
integration and deployment complexity. Microservices tends to refer
With microservices, software functionality
is delivered as discrete, lightweight services In recent years, there has been a significant to developing functionality as
with a well-defined API, which can then be effort to improve the agility and time-to- a collection of small services,
orchestrated to provide a more complete market, for changes to the digital UI layer; each running in its own
set of business functionality or simply and at the same time, the underlying core process and accessed via a
exposed directly to a mobile or web / functionality has changed at a much slower lightweight interface, such as
browser UI. A microservice should be as speed. With Service Oriented Architecture an HTTP RESTful API
focused as possible, yet still add value (SOA), supporting technologies like - Fowler
instead of just passing information. This API Management and ESB platforms

Microservices – Part of the Digital Economy

The Microservices Architecture is well • Microservices can provide technology Organizations are increasingly looking at
aligned to the move towards cloud-based agility and thus improve the business’ microservices as a valuable supplement
SaaS offerings and the API economy. In time-to-market to internal application services being
some ways, it can also be traced back to delivered through the digital channel.
For a service provider, microservices should
the early days of SOA with the focus on Instead of extending internal capability,
be considered as digital business assets
service discovery, and anonymous service external microservices are being
and treated accordingly. They need to have
usage based on UDDI. What has changed aggregated or enriched, and then
a business owner and a business strategy /
is the proliferation of RESTful APIs and the provided as value-added microservices to
model associated with them. If the focus is
popularity of hybrid service integration the outside world.
on revenue generation, then services need
of cloud SaaS services plus the availability
to be promoted and the business needs to Although a Microservices Architecture
of virtualised platforms and containers,
monitor usage, and simultaneously engage might be initially focused on
together with the advanced tools to
with the community to ensure the services supplementing internal functionality
manage them.
are relevant, in demand, and competitive. for users, it also provides opportunities
A Microservices Architecture can provide If competitive advantage is the focus, to take an existing service, value-add
key technology business opportunities as then the services need to be relevant, or supplement it, and then deliver the
a service provider, service consumer, or responsive to change, and have a planned enhanced service out to a different
increasingly as both a provider life cycle including obsolescence planning. consumer audience. It can be as
and consumer. lightweight as brokering and rebranding
As a service consumer you need to be
• Microservices support consumer continually checking the market for new
for marketing advantage, or aggregating
with other services to provide a more
enablement, transparency, and choice services, providers, and opportunities
functionally rich microservice offering.
aligned with your business strategy.
• Microservices can extend the utility
and reach of your business

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How do Microservices Impact Application Strategy?

Historically, organizations would look


to monolithic application suites to solve
business problems such as ERP, HCM,
Consumer
or CRM. Evaluating functionality was Applications
based on an overall assessment of a small
number of platforms against key business
requirements. However, with cloud / SaaS API Management
microservice providers, this selection
Business Functions Business Functions
has become much more complex, but
at the same time, much more flexible. Service Orchestration Business
Service 4
Business Service 1 Business Service 2 Business Service 3
Organizations are no longer constrained by
vendor upgrade schedules, but are instead
able to quickly bring new functionality Entity Service Layer Data
Service 4
to the online channel whenever new or Data Service 1 Data Service 2 Data Service 3

enhanced microservices become available.


This is particularly valuable for mobile
Database Database Database Database
and browser digital-applications as they
Internal Cloud
are able to quickly make use of new
distributed microservices.

So the new approach in assessing


functionality is to look for stability around
a core set of services for a minimum viable
This effectively moves emphasis away a service provider (having the marketing
product (MVP) and then be opportunistic
from single source providers towards a and management responsibility). The
with enhancements as new services
best-of-breed service provider approach. approach also needs to take into account
become available for use. When working
However, the granularity is much smaller, the MVP functionality aspect to ensure
with microservice providers who are
emphasising the need to leverage those core services are recognized as core
effective at engaging the consumer
lightweight engagement approaches and are sustainable in the future. These
community, there are options to influence
rather than heavyweight contractual MVP services will need to have tighter
functionality direction, to better support
approaches for usage of services outside of governance around change.
new business directions. Thus assessment
core, long-term dependencies.
criteria will now need to consider The other key consideration for selecting
additional aspects such as: This lightweight approach drives microservices is data governance. Privacy
organizations to replace traditional legislation and other compliance needs
• Community engagement
application / asset owner models with a can restrict storage of data off-premises or
• Alternative service options more lightweight service owner model outside country boundaries. This is another
within the business – both as a service key assessment criterion when assessing
• Supplier longevity and reliability
consumer (owning the relationship) and as microservice providers

Microservice Architecture focuses on building scalable, distributed applications that support agile deployment
– both on-premises and to the cloud. The benefits and complexities of Microservices Architecture need to be
carefully considered before taking this approach to delivering application services
– Gartner - Olliffe

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How do Microservices Change Integration?

The increased prevalence of cloud-based an organization’s ESB / orchestration services internally; whereas from the
SaaS providers in the enterprise-business- platforms. There is also an increased point of view of a microservice provider,
functionality mix has broken down the likelihood that these microservices will API Management platforms are crucial
monolithic application approach and be hosted and provided through cloud / to managing service access. An API-
increased the need to integrate multiple SaaS providers, which drives an enterprise Management-type platform provides
services, applications, and providers, to towards a hybrid integration approach the security and service management
support the enterprise. A potential impact to better support external service capabilities to support quality delivery
of microservices is to dramatically aggregation, and to integrate external of RESTful microservices, and also
increase independent service numbers, microservices into the enterprise. This enables valuable social engagement and
with the corresponding increase in results in an increased emphasis on hybrid collaboration functionality to support
integration complexity. mediation and orchestration platforms as a engaging the consumer community.
key enablement capability within These tools and platforms not only
As microservices segment functionality
an enterprise. support managing the life cycle of
into smaller and simpler services – in order
services, but more importantly provide
to achieve more complex, integrated As an enterprise acting as a service
opportunities to more effectively monetize
functionality – they can give rise to a consumer, mediation and orchestration
the provided microservices.
significant increase in the demands on are crucial to effectively integrating

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Operational Impacts of a Microservices Architecture

Managing microservices is heavily monitoring capabilities to handle the ensure all the required microservices
dependent on having the right tools complexity. This results in: are deployed correctly
and platforms in place. There needs to
be effective support for aspects such as
• Requirements for effective distributed • A need for comprehensive service
management tools and dashboards monitoring to ensure availability of
container hot deployment, and tools to
microservices, to replace what would
support flexible runtime deployment and • The need to design for resilience to have previously been vendor-specific
automated monitoring. ensure usability when service
application monitoring tools. Also, a
availability is beyond the control of
As noted above, the use of a Microservices single microservice failure will not be as
the enterprise
Architecture can increase the complexity obvious as an application failure
of providing enterprise functionality. This • The need to move towards a more • Changes to operational support as
drives a heavy dependency on integration agile, continuous change management
L2 / L3 support will need to be more
and operational management technologies and delivery mode to effectively
fine-grained at the individual
to handle the complexity. At the same manage service life cycle changes and
service level
time, a Microservices Architecture provides replacement of microservices
an opportunity to simplify digital service
• A shift towards a more lightweight • An accelerated transition from
delivery, where there is good alignment application asset ownership towards
release process to align with
between the available microservices and service ownership
incremental service change versus
the user functionality provided. major application replacement / It also reinforces agile delivery and testing
In general, an enterprise Microservices upgrade. At the same time, major best practices around automation and
Architecture approach requires support deployments can be more complex to continuous delivery.
from modern-day, advanced tools and

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Microservices Best Practice

Microservices and their APIs must Service discovery and definition Data Management
be managed as business products, from
conception to retirement
• Ensure microservices are well-defined • The usual approach is for each
and documented, in an online microservice to “own” its data (Gartner
• Need to align with business strategy repository or catalog with simple - Thomas) – which matches with the
consumer access
• Need to provide a revenue stream or CRUD-style service interface. This
approach goes back to traditional
competitive advantage Microservice granularity
Object-oriented principles, which
• Need to be marketed and managed as • Services granularity should be aligned have been superseded by SOA
business assets with the RESTful API model (CRUD) approaches. This has a tendency to
Control service access based on • Services should provide a useful drive microservices APIs towards being
business requirements, not business service low-level data services based upon
technology constraints data schema, but this approach should
• Data services should not be exposed
be resisted to ensure alignment with
• Once microservices are in the wild it is directly unless they provide a
delivering business value rather than
impossible to control consumers business function
alignment with an underlying
• Consumers will often identify ways to Life cycle management data schema
use a service that is radically different
from how it was originally envisioned
• Services specification must be • Data should be explicitly replicated
designed to support versioning and where needed, using a master data
• Focus on supporting industry-standard eventual depredation management paradigm, rather than
identity management protocols, rather relying on implicit propagation
Hybrid integration
than custom mechanisms which may fail due to service

Design for service unavailability


• Aggregate, enrich, or orchestrate provider changes
microservices at the appropriate
• Need to provide resilient behavior over place in the Architecture (business • Look for opportunities to use in-
memory data grid technology for
microservices by designing for functionality). This is not within the
low latency and scaling across
flexibility and temporary outages mobile or browser app
microservices. This aligns well with the
Manage SLAs model of a data microservice, with a

• Agree to well-defined service SLAs and small defined set of data rather than
proactively manage the performance focusing on a large integrated
data model

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Microservices Architecture – Is it Right for You?

All modern day digital architectures should • For supplementing the functionality microservices APIs, where appropriate, for
be service-enabled through HTTP / SOAP of an out-of-the-box application direct consumption by mobile and browser
web services, RESTful APIs, JMS queues, or SaaS service to minimize apps; and where more complex behavior
etc. Unless an organization runs on a single customization and thus simplify future is required, vendor APIs are aggregated via
application platform, this is essential to application upgrades an internal integration platform to provide
support effective integration across the more complex microservices
In general, there is real value to
enterprise and deliver an integrated user for consumption.
an organization in having an API-
experience. A Microservices Architecture
enabled, service-oriented architecture.
is a very specific variation of a service-
Microservices provide an added advantage ESB-based Microservice Architecture
enabled architecture which is more
by also supporting service agility, at the The channels division within a major
focused on agility. It can provide significant
potential cost of increased integration international bank has embarked on
value in a number of areas such as:
complexity. This can work well for a journey to transform their existing
• For a rapidly changing / growing smaller installations but needs careful technology stack to a next generation
business or business group where evaluation around the complexity and risk landscape to help deliver a unified digital
time-to-market is key and the core implications for larger installations. experience to all of its online customers.
business is more dynamic Infosys provided an innovative channel
and changing services layer architecture based on Fuse
Infosys Experience with
• Test the market situations where Microservices
ESB, which has built-in support for Apache
Camel for orchestration, and Apache CXF
functionality needs to be rolled out
in a low-cost manner focused on for hosting web services. The solution is

validating the demand Digital Alignment leveraging the loose coupling of OSGi
Assisting a leading Australian online bundles and the orchestration capabilities
• Mobile application development or
trading service provider to move from a of Apache Camel framework to build
mash-up browser application microservices that allow independent
centralized application platform over a
development based on RESTful APIs deployment. Fabric, the clustering
number of SaaS service providers, to a
and not requiring deep integration mechanism of Fuse, will ensure that these
more loosely coupled architecture. This was
into existing core systems services can then be horizontally scaled
based on directly exposing the underlying
on demand.

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References
Fowler, J. L. Microservices. Retrieved from Martin Fowler: http://martinfowler.com/articles/microservices.html

Gartner - Olliffe, G. Assessing Microservice Architecture for Scalable Application Delivery. Retrieved from Gartner: https://www.gartner.com/
doc/2974417/assessing-microservice-architecture-scalable-application

Gartner - Thomas, A. Application Architecture for Digital Business. Retrieved from Gartner Webinars: http://my.gartner.com/portal/server.pt?
open=512&objID=202&mode=2&PageID=5553&ref=webinar-rss&resId=2866521&srcId=1-3134301641

About the Author

Peter Jarman
Principal Technology Architect , Digital and Integration Services, Infosys

Peter Jarman is a Principal Technology Architect for Digital and Integration Services at Infosys. He has over 30 years’
experience in IT, covering a wide range of business domains. He has significant experience across EAI, BPM, SOA,
Digital / Online, Enterprise Architecture, and Solution Architecture, and has published a variety of technical papers on
these topics.

For more information, contact askus@infosys.com

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