Microservices are a key component to establishing agile architectures for digital products.
In the early days of microservice adoption, they were widely seen as the successor to enterprise software. Today, it is clear that enterprise monoliths, in some use cases, can be used in tandem with microservices to build a more flexible system without giving up on the data rich components of a monolith.
This article was created in cooperation with Netguru Partner, Hygraph.
What are microservices
Microservices are specialized API-first services that when connected together create a modular, customized tech stack. Rather than being a singular all encompassing system, microservices typically have a specific task, such as headless CMS or A/B Testing.
Microservices are typically connected together via API to build a tech stack that meets a teams custom needs without being weighed down by extra systems that do not bring teams closer to their goals.
Microservice architectures are typically built with core functionality systems, such as a CMS, frontend presentation layer, and CDN, but also additional customization for functionality that can give teams essential insights, such as connecting a CRM, analytics tooling. API-first architectures offer the ability for teams to choose tools that meet the needs of the team along the workflow. Architectures are highly dependent on the use case and final product.
For a basic content hub, the architectures would likely have several systems that will be crucial to functionality of the final product. Our diagram below gives some insights into these core microservices, as well as some of the functionality which may be up to the team’s preference.
Source: Media Hygraph
Legacy Enterprise Software
Monolith systems are systems that house several systems in a single suite of software. In the past, enterprise software was a suite of services housed in a single monolith and brand. Teams would be limited to the single providers offerings for functionality, templates, and approaches. Monolith enterprise systems are very powerful tools; however, the microservice architectures of today provide great opportunities for enabling teams to have a similar amount of power with more flexibility.
What are the benefits of microservice infrastructure?
Both approaches have appropriate use cases and clients and with any implementation decision there are also some trade offs. Monolith systems offer a broad range of functionality right out of the box. While this can be very helpful in some cases and help teams get off the ground faster initially, teams are then locked-in to a specific vendor. If additional functionality is necessary, monolith systems limit this ability or require time intensive workarounds.
With a microservice architecture, teams are able to choose the API-first best of breed service that best suits their use case and add it to their tech stack to check if it meets their needs. If the microservice does not meet the needs of the team, then they can easily disconnect the service without disrupting other existing systems.
Microservice architectures do require more initial planning because the team must evaluate several of the key tools that will serve as the core of the system before they start building. This time is often well spent because it ensures that teams have properly scoped out their project building both immediate and future timelines.
Thinking of the project in both of these tracts enables teams to determine how much flexibility and experimentation will be possible with the tech stack and to plan accordingly.
Allowing adequate time for scoping the project is an essential element of building a resilient tech stack. If the thought of choosing several best-of-breed services is daunting to a tech team that is short on time, agencies and implementation partners can be a great resource to speed up timelines.
Can a modern infrastructure include both microservices and enterprise software?
Content federation is a powerful concept that allows microservices to seamlessly pull data from external sources to populate data within GraphCMS. Instead of time intensive data migrations, teams are able to easily populate GraphCMS data that always stays current. Content federation enables teams to extend the life of their powerful monolith systems which often are rich in data while still benefiting from the flexibility and power of microservice systems.
Microservices enable teams to build workflows that meet the needs of their team. Microservice architectures rid teams of the extra weight of systems that do not bring teams closer to their goals and bring essential systems into the forefront. Because each system is chosen as a piece of the larger infrastructure, teams can consider their team’s needs and expertise as well as which systems can support them to bring the most ROI.
Teams can collect the data they need to have a complete understanding of how their offerings are performing. With a microservice architecture, teams are able to test new channels to validate proof of concepts without disrupting the existing infrastructure.
When content federation is also implemented, timelines for developing a proof of concept are short and agile. Content federation enables microservices and enterprise software to be used in tandem to create a powerful, data-rich tech stack. In combining both of the strengths of the two approaches to tech stacks, teams are able to build a performant tech stack that meets the both immediate and future needs.
Implementation partners can be a key resource
Implementation partners can be excellent resources for building resilient tech stacks, particularly microservice architectures. Agencies have current knowledge of the landscape of microservices and their use cases, saving teams time during the planning phase without sacrificing using high quality tools that match the needs of their use case. Agencies can be an essential component to keeping projects running on time and timelines as short as possible.
To learn more about how companies are modernizing with the microservice-first approach, download Hygraph’s report on The Emergence of Modular DXPs.