Agility through software modularisation

Stefan Seufert, CTO/Vorstand EIKONA AG
Softwaremodularisierung ist wie ein Zauberwürfel. Durch individuelle Kombination werden Logistikprozesse perfekt.

Microservices are being used more and more frequently. But what does the technology promise to do? Does software modularisation increase agility? When are microservices a good idea?


The architectural pattern

What are microservices?

Microservices are easy to understand without explaining the technical complexity behind them. They are used to modularise software and processes. Large projects can be divided into small units and thus be well organised and implemented. That means software can be enhanced and maintained, and individual components exchanged. Microservices make it possible to pursue a best-of-breed approach as early as in the software design phase.

The essential characteristic of microservices is that they can be developed and deployed independently of each other. Each component can use whichever programming language and software architecture works best for its particular use case. Scenarios with different components from different manufacturers, which together form a large software solution, are therefore easy to implement.

Each service is therefore independently responsible for exactly one subtask and is isolated from the outside with regard to its own program logic. Standardised interfaces, such as REST APIs, are used so that the services can communicate with each other. They allow usage data and information to be passed from one component to another via data exchange formats such as JSON or XML without having to know the architecture of the other component.
All the microservices that make up a system can easily run on separate servers or even in separate data centres since the only intersection is the interface. That means that, with proper planning, the solutions cannot only be scaled horizontally but also be made more fail-safe.


Formulate goals

When are microservices a good idea?

There is no universal answer to this question. Instead, you should ask yourself the following questions: What are your specific goals? Why do you want to introduce microservices? What do you want to achieve and improve by their introduction?


At a glance

Pros

  • Independence of one microservice from another. The development teams also work independently of each other and can deploy software in independent cycles.
  • Since microservices are isolated, different technologies can be used for the various applications. The only thing that matters is having a common interface.
  • Best-of-breed strategy: not one-size-fits-all
  • High system stability – if one microservice fails, the rest of the architecture remains in place.
  • Easy scalability: services can be scaled independently, individually and as needed.
  • Individual microservices are interchangeable without having to replace the entire system.

Cons

  • Increased overhead for communication of individual services. It is essential to have a good system for synchronously and asynchronously exchanging data.
  • Software testing becomes more complex since interactions between the individual components may have to be tested by different service providers.
  • The deployment process can also become more complex since it needs to be planned and executed for each service and there may be functional dependencies between the individual releases of the microservices.
  • Data consistency and data distribution (e.g. of the master data that each microservice requires) become more complex due to redundant data storage

My conclusion

Yes, microservices make organisations agile and nimble. However, all aspects of software modularisation should be carefully considered before starting a project. To summarise, microservices are particularly useful in large software projects since it provides three big advantages: small teams, scalability and minimal coordination. The project goals must always be clearly defined beforehand.

EIKONA Logistics specialises in the development of specific logistics software. We have implemented many microservices projects. Working with you, we analyse the initial situation, define the project tasks, create a project plan and determine the project budget.


Stefan Seufert
Stefan Seufert
CTO

As a design guru, the software developer delves into logistics service providers' requirements like no other. He is passionate about exchanging information securely and efficiently and thus speeding up the physical logistics process.


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