What are microservices?
A microservice is a service that maps individual functionalities as modular and separately executable software components of an application of any size or of a more extensive service.
How do microservice architectures work?
In contrast to a monolithic application whose components cannot be separated from each other, in microservice architectures the individual functionalities are divided into smallest service modules that can also be accessed separately. As so-called Backend For Frontend (BFF) services, these can then communicate with each other as needed via interfaces (APIs). The main difference between a microservice architecture and a monolithic application architecture is that the individual components or microservice modules can also be kept, operated and maintained in different clusters.
Challenges of microservices.
When it comes to software solutions in IT, developers are always concerned with making applications as small as possible and thereby easy to maintain. If an application expands by adding further functionalities or if the task for which it was developed is somewhat more complex, the documentation or even the structure of the monolithic application may become confusing. This leads to increased effort in the implementation or later adaptation of this type of software solution, up to and including making it unmaintainable.
Another aim for developers – both in microservice architectures and in classic applications – is to design the requested architecture to be as robust and fail-safe as possible. While the focus is on fail-safety, the avoidance of unnecessary redundancies is also often an issue for cost and performance reasons. This can only be remedied in a very limited way in a monolithic system, since such an application always functions as a “complete work” and consequently partial functionalities cannot be separated or staggered according to their respective properties (such as priority within the system). For example, if the cluster, server or database on which a service is offered fails, a monolithic application must be mapped again on a separate system in order to be able to continue.
Benefits of microservices.
Better planning and maintainability for companies
As described above, the development and deployment of complete solutions can present complex challenges for companies. In order to keep development teams as small as possible and to make the documentation of created solutions permanently traceable, the division of a microservice architecture into the smallest logical components is an extremely useful software development tool. Both the solution itself and the investment made in the solution, its implementation and possible scalability can be classified as fundamentally worthwhile in this way.
Optimal load distribution and fail-safety
Microservices can not only improve the development structure and maintainability of applications, but they also offer significant advantages in terms of application scalability. The division of a complete solution into different clusters – sensibly subdivided according to, for example, service level and performance requirements – can be particularly helpful for outward-facing services or for services with unpredictable data input, in order to ensure their stability and optimal load distribution. If a cluster with a specific microservice fails in a system, the entire solution does not go offline. The microservice architecture remains available to users without any loss of performance or functionality when using other parts of the same application. Central functionalities can possibly even be offered redundantly, so that if one cluster fails, another, physically independent cluster simply steps in, and the service continues to run for the user.
Maximum database performance
Since developers build a microservice architecture from logically and physically independent components, individual microservices can also be managed in their own databases. This leads to shorter query cycles and also ensures that each participating cluster loads less unnecessary data into memory. This functionality can also increase performance if the required BFF communication is also well structured.
Protection of companies from attacks and malware
Similar to the fail-safety of microservices and the resulting database structure, it can also be seen that microservice architectures are more resilient when it comes to protection against attacks. If an attacker has hacked a server – whether to paralyse a service or to steal data – the attack is initially limited to its smallest component due to the cellular structure of a microservice solution. However, in order for this protection, which is inherent in a microservice architecture, to take effect, a stringent handling of the BFF communication paths is necessary.
What solution does Lobster offer?
The data integration software Lobster_data is the solution of choice for handling BFF data communication. All common interface types (APIs) can be created and delivered with Lobster_data without programming knowledge, even by non-developers (citizen developers), thanks to no-code technology.
The second no-code-based Lobster product for the creation of partial solutions for extensive functionalities – for example, of portals for data collection – is the software for process automation Lobster_pro.
In Lobster_pro, too, the options offered for data provision, input and enhancement (ETL/ELT) or processing by means of logics through event handling can be created without programming knowledge. In particular, due to the great leeway in the choice of data structure for Lobster_pro portals, which in contrast to ordinary form interfaces can be decoupled from the underlying data structure, this opens up a wide range of perspectives for companies to develop performant microservices architectures.