If You Aren’t Leveraging Microservices for these 3 Applications, You’re Falling Behind Competitors

In the past few years, microservices has become one of the top buzzwords used by business leaders. Implemented correctly, microservices can provide incredible value, but it isn’t a magic bullet.

Microservices Application Example

To get the best value from moving to a microservice environment, it’s important to know what it us, how it works, and, how to make it work for you. The key to using microservices to create value is knowing which applications will benefit from it the most. These are customer-facing applications, data processing applications, and applications that are constantly being updated and improved.

Microservice environments are most useful in places where the platform is evolving quickly. To start with microservices, create the minimal viable product – a version of the product that functions fully, but doesn’t have all of the features you are planning to implement – and adapt and extend the application quickly from there. Microservices became popular because they fill a need – very large scale, monolithic applications can be unwieldy and this can slow down development. Microservices allow developers to break the monolith down into a collection of smaller, loosely-coupled services that implement business processes. Each of these services exists in its own separate application container, but the containers are designed to operate together.

Since microservices are containerized, developers can work on an application in distributed teams, where each developer works in their own container on their own subset of the code. Because of the containerization, each developer can work on their own aspect of the application without altering another’s work. Working in parallel speeds up development. Microservices also allow developers to reuse parts of each other’s code rather than having to build everything from scratch. This saves time and adds value.

Let’s look at three types of applications you should consider moving to a microservice environment.

1. Customer-facing applications

Customer-facing applications are a perfect case for moving to microservices. Microservices work best in the cloud and customer-facing applications need to leverage the functionality of the cloud in order to pull geographical data from a phone, use other company’s APIs, and integrate with various other data sources. A good example of this is a mobile application for a bank, which needs to connect to the bank’s databases, update quickly as the customer deposits and withdraws funds, and handle a large number of transactions across many customers. Also, since customer-facing applications have large user bases that can expand rapidly as new customers download the application, certain parts of their infrastructure needs to expand quickly. Since microservices are containerized, it’s easy to scale up one aspect of the infrastructure without interfering in the functioning of the rest of the application. This streamlines and speeds up the updating process.

2. Data processing applications

Any application that needs to process data very quickly is a good candidate for moving to microservices. Applications running data algorithms for insight make a good example. For instance, a retailer needs to be able to quickly assess customer data and crunch a lot of numbers if it wants to create a personalized experience for its customers. For instance, we have a large retail client that moved data processing applications to microservices and were able to speed up the time it took them to validate and process algorithms, meaning that data scientists can get actionable information to marketing faster. The marketing team can then use this data to personalize the offers they send to customers and increase engagement. Banks need to quickly compare and cross-reference multiple data sources to check for fraud or evaluate credit eligibility. The increased processing speed microservices can increase the business value of date processing applications in both cases.

Related: Learn how a large retailer reduced data processing times from six weeks to 10 hours (case study)

3. Applications that are constantly being updated and improved

Any application that is being constantly updated can benefit from microservices. Microservices allow development teams to update and add new features without ever having to take the whole system offline.  Netflex is a great example – since their business model depends upon never having downtime they benefit greatly from microservices. Since microservices are containerized, containers can be updated one at a time, decreasing downtime. Also, if an update causes a problem, it only affects one container and the rest of the system can keep running.

Final thoughts

The major divide between applications that should be moved to microservices and those that need to be left in their original architecture comes down to systems of record versus systems of engagement. Systems of record are horizontal and logistical, such as CRM, where data needs to be maintained and time kept constant. Systems of engagement are interfaces, places where data can be leveraged in new ways, and ephemeral rather than historical. Customer-facing applications, data processing applications, and the kinds of applications that are constantly updated are all systems of engagement.

Next step: Read our case study on using microservices and containers for data processing apps

New Call-to-action