More often than not, a cloud development project calls for a revision in development architecture. This is all too often seen as a non-value adding activity. In this article, we explain how microservices, containers and serverless computing help organizations deliver value faster and advance their holistic transition to the cloud.
Nimble microservices vs. fixed monoliths
Traditionally, development architecture has been built using a monolithic approach. Central to this method is that all parts of the application are directly interconnected. As a natural implication, any change in the system, application or an interface means that the whole needs to be changed.
The use of microservices in cloud architecture removes the undesirable rigidity of monoliths. An application built as microservices is a collection of loosely coupled parts, each of which is responsible for a single feature. Microservices interact when requested, but they don’t rely on each other.
Naturally, this means that one element of an application can be changed without having to restructure everything. As a results, microservices can be developed, maintained and deployed independently, which is their biggest benefit.
The challenge with microservices lies in performance requirements. Because parts of the application live separately from one another, communication between them is more complex and may cause performance issues that show up as network latency and suboptimal processing times. These problems can be mostly avoided with automation, agile methodologies and DevOps tools.
Overall, increased development agility brings added speed and scalability. An architecture based on microservices allows businesses to roll out complete applications faster and in a more controlled sequence.
Another benefit of microservices is increased reliability. In a monolithic architecture, the failure of one part will cause the whole system to fail. With microservices, a failure in one part of the application does not disable everything else, and issues are in general easier to pinpoint and fix.
Streamline software development with containers
A persistent challenge in software development relates to the ongoing hassle of matching the application’s development stage with the correct environment. Containers answer the issue by decoupling application from environment.
In short, containers are packages of software that can be run in any environment. Much like microservices, containers are independent elements that add a layer of flexibility to application development.
Without containers, applications need to be adapted separately each time they move between development, testing and deployment. This is unnecessary work that slows down progress and increases time to market. Containerized applications can be operated in the same way regardless of environment. The same packages run smoothly on the developer’s laptop and later on in testing environments.
Not every application needs to be containerized. Sometimes the benefits may be lost in added complexity. Also, containers can become costly if not properly structured. However, especially organizations with a strong DevOps mindset will find great value in containerized applications in the future.
The portability of containers means higher consistency and greater efficiency throughout the development cycle. Containers allow businesses to build their delivery pipeline more easily and bring value to the market faster.
Go serverless to maximize computing power-to-value ratio
Traditionally, acquiring computing power meant that you had to ask your IT department to setup a server. The process was long and you were tied to the cost of the server for good, regardless of how much of the computing power you would end up using.
Cloud computing introduced the opportunity to rent computing resources from a cloud infrastructure service provider. This solved part of the problem, but even with cloud computing, you would still need to configure your server specifications, which adds extra workload on top of the coding.
Now, serverless computing pushes the adaptability of software development. Providers can adjust the supply of computing power to match the application’s needs on the go. In other words, serverless computing optimizes the cost and value of computing power for your organization.
Besides automatic scalability and optimized costs, serverless computing removes the burden of server management tasks from your IT. You should still consider whether serverless is the best option for your application. The shift removes some of the visibility into your stack, and can lead to lock-in with the solution.
Like microservices and containers, serverless computing enables faster deployments and allows the organization to react quicker to application usage peaks. It is a fair option in the sense that you only pay for the computing power that you actually use.
Agile and DevOps seal the deal
A modern development architecture alone is not enough. To generate high value for end customers, technical excellence needs to be paired with impeccable delivery. Microservices, containers, and serverless computing are best utilized with the methods of agile and the tools of DevOps.
Agile principles help organizations to deliver applications iteratively and to avoid getting lost in waterfall operations. Depending on team size, scrum and SAFe guide development incrementally towards an end solution. DevOps on the other hand ensures a structured delivery process with end-to-end automation capabilities, and maximizes the value of modern development techniques.
We at Capgemini Finland have a wealth of experience from defining modern development architectures, where microservices, containers and serverless computing play an important role. Contact us to speed up your organization’s cloud transition and to start delivering value to the market faster.