No matter your industry, you’ve either learned this, or soon will: the era of monolithic service architectures is over. As the need for a more nimble enterprise takes priority, organizations of all types are switching to microservices. A microservices architecture can offer a more scalable, resilient, secure enterprise — all while streamlining the process and time it takes to build and ship working improvements to any application.

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What is the Purpose of Microservices? 

In the race to stay competitive, enterprises are increasingly adopting new IT methodologies: Agile, DevOps, continuous testing models, or some combination of the three. Yet their monolithic IT structures simply won’t support these updates. Monolithic structures are more difficult to scale, upgrade and maintain, especially as an enterprise grows and evolves. 

Today’s end users expect dynamic yet consistent experiences across a range of devices. For this to happen, organizations of all sizes are adopting a microservices architecture.

Microservices split each application into sets of smaller, interconnected services, cutting the time it takes an IT department to build, maintain and upgrade each oneThis gives any development team more opportunities to customize those unique end-user experiences, even while keeping to the tighter schedule that Agile releases require. 

What Defines a Microservice? 

Microservices represent a new paradigm for how companies build and deploy applications. 
With a microservices architecture, large applications are broken down into smaller, loosely coupled services that, while autonomous, collaborate with each other to deliver a cohesive application experience. 

This autonomy/collaboration model benefits from the use of “containers,” series of tools and methodologies that package each microservice to be deployed and maintained independently of the other services in the application.  

Because each microservice is distinct and loosely coupled, they can each be developed in isolation by smaller teams, allowing a team to develop, test, deploy and scale its services independently of other teams.  
APIs provide the connective tissue, offering universal protocols that each team can use without having to know exactly how each service’s underlying component is written.

What are the Advantages of Microservices? 

The ability of microservices to decompose a monolithic application into a set of independent services offers faster production, a more efficient workflow, and marked increases in resiliency and productivity.


A microservices architecture speeds up each production cycle by enabling teams to develop, deploy and scale services in parallel. This also helps them reduce the time needed to put changes or improvements into production.


Parallel development reduces system downtime and increases performance, helping an organization get more from its investment. And the greater autonomy gives teams more agency to simplify and maintain code for any single service. 


Microservices are capable of dispersing functionality across multiple services. This prevents any single point of failure to disable the application. If a component dies, teams can simply spin up another as the application continues to function. 

These shorter cycles and reduced downtime improve productivity, making it easier to update and ship within Agile’s tighter production sprints. That, in turn, gives companies more opportunity to push improvements that can increase user engagement. 

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What is the Difference Between SOA and Microservices? 


As a concept, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) can be considered an umbrella term for microservices and other methods of architecture that can create an integrated set of services. 
But it usually describes large-scale, mostly monolithic enterprise applications with a single application layer and multiple dependent Enterprise Serial Buses (ESBs). 

SOAs focus on integrating multiple services in a single application, as opposed to microservices’ more modular approach. As a result, an SOA tends to be heavyweight and complex, with a variety of processes that could potentially slow the app.  

Think of microservices as the practical evolution of SOA. Because Microservices are divided into smaller standalone services independent of each other, they’re easier to build, deploy, scale and maintain. Here are five questions to consider if you’re thinking of moving to microservices

What is a Microservice API? 


Microservice APIs determine how end users interact with a microservice, surfacing that service’s functions in ways that are easy to use. Like APIs in general, a microservice API is the blueprint for how to make that service perform a single function (or a set of closely related functions), presenting a set of interaction options specific to that microservice.

What is a Microservices API Gateway? 


A microservices API gateway is a proxy that brokers traffic from one service to another. It’s intended to make your microservices respond like an API that’s been customized to meet a client’s unique requests. Think of it as an air traffic controller, directing the information from the client to the underlying microservice.

An API gateway can serve as the client’s single entry point into the system, performing services like:

  • Routing or proxying requests to the appropriate service/services/groups of services
  • Responding to certain requests by fanning them out to a custom series of services and aggregating their results 
  • Translating between different databases or protocols

All conducted in a way that reads like a universal point of contact with the app. 

What Issues Can Come Up When Using Microservices? 


While microservices provide DevOps with increased agency and responsibility, they also increase the intricacy of systems and practices. For teams that are used to legacy systems and monolithic architectures, a certain amount of “culture shock” can be expected. 

Teams should expect greater complexity across service discovery, monitoring, testing and networking. Those teams are tasked with maintaining parity of performance between each service and managing the flow of information across the enterprise. New or increased duties will include:

  • Addressing network latency
  • Mitigating fault tolerances
  • Load balancing
  • Engaging with multiple message formats
  • Orchestration across multiple teams and services
  • Consistent communication with (and updating of) other teams and internal stakeholders 

The sooner teams acclimate to the requirements of a microservices architecture, the less they’ll risk duplication of services, and the sooner they’ll be able to leverage the benefits. 

Why is Open Source Important for Microservices? 


Microservice applications feature dozens, even hundreds, of separate components, often running under fast production cycles and tight budgets. The rigid, centralized, “black box” methods of development simply don’t offer the flexibility and adaptability that open source provides. 

Because open source solutions enable your applications to be modular and composable from the start,theyt free your DevOps team to customize and extend their applications. Any team can build on top of their service, modifying open source code to repair or improve it. The result: greater opportunity for innovation and speed-to-solution.

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