What exactly are Microservices?

Just like there are many ways to design a building, different techniques to design an application exist. This is what we call application architecture. One approach to building applications is to base the application on loosely coupled autonomous services, known as microservices. This type of architecture is incredibly powerful and resilient, as well as highly scalable. Microservices are an integral part cloud-native applications.

Independent subsystems

A microservice architecture is useful for complex applications that have multiple subsystems that are frequently updated, such as a contact center software. The functionality is divided into loosely coupled autonomous subsystems, where each subsystem is assigned a certain business functionality – for the contact center software these could be call handling and steering, task routing, service availability calculation or reporting. These different systems do not share any code, which means the most appropriate technologies can be used for the different services. Microservices communicate through APIs to make up the fully functioning application.

Simple maintenance

Microservices can be developed, tested, deployed, and scaled independent of other services, which makes application maintenance a lot easier. Instead of updating a whole application, only specific components need to be touched. In a monolithic application, code dependencies would become tangled over time, but because microservices don’t share any code, it is easier to roll out new features. If designed well, an update or bug in one service will not disrupt the rest of the system and the application can continue to function without any downtime. Meanwhile, in traditional applications, a bug in one part of the application could hold back an entire release cycle, meaning new features would be delayed. Microservices facilitate a non-interruptive and quick roll out of updates and new features. 

Increased agility

A microservice architecture increases agility. Whilst the system at large is more complex in a microservice architecture, each individual service is very simple. This means individual services can be developed and maintained by a small team. This requires less coordination and allows for a quicker roll-out of features. This increases productivity and lowers development costs. 

Highly scalable

One of the biggest advantages of a microservice architecture is the scalability. When demand increases, services can be scaled independently as needed without scaling out the whole application. New resources can be allocated to the most needed services or new services can easily be added to the system. For example, if the number of calls increases, new call handlers can automatically be started to deal with the increased load. Microservices consequently allows for an optimal use of computing capacity.  

In conclusion

  • A microservice architecture is defined by a system of loosely coupled, independent services that talk to each other through APIs.
  • Microservices are robust and highly scalable.
  • Application maintenance is facilitated by the fact that each service can be handled by a small team.
  • A microservice architecture improves agility.
  • A microservice architecture lowers development costs in the long-term.
  • A microservice architecture is future-proof.