Are microservices turning applications into complex networks?

Are microservices turning applications into complex networks?

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Deployed by leading companies such as Netflix, Expedia, Paypal, and eBay, microservices are fast becoming a popular architecture pattern. The movement towards microservices is driven primarily by the need for agility and scale in modern businesses. In a microservices architecture, services are fine-grained and protocols are lightweight thereby helping improve modularity. This makes the application easier to understand, develop, and test. It also helps it become more resilient to architecture erosion, thereby improving DevOps speed in rolling out incremental improvements in the applications


Like all major technological advancements, there are both expected and unintended consequences of migrating to a microservices architecture. Microservices deliver strong impact areas such as scheduling, consistency, resource management, security, and updates. However, they also make the spatiotemporal behavior of the application harder to understand and manage.

From Monoliths to Microservices’ (‘Seer: Leveraging Big Data to Navigate the Increasing Complexity of Cloud Debugging.’ Hot Clouds 2018)

Performance assurance in this new environment requires a whole new approach for a number of reasons.

Performance Assurance

Microservices exhibit different performance profiles from traditional monolithic applications, in a variety of ways. Consider, for example, the impact of “the network within” – an important aspect of microservice applications.

The above changes raise multiple questions around application performance. You may ask:

These are the questions that keep performance and production Ops awake at night.

The Good and The Scary

The on-ramp to the cloud is open and busy. The value of using cloud is a foregone conclusion.  This is further spurred by standardization of developing and deploying cloud applications using processes, frameworks and tools that are becoming accepted. Businesses are happy that they have a new found freedom and agility.

Unfortunately, the ‘black box’ nature of containers hinders visibility into the performance of microservices, which introduces levels of complexities for those tasked with managing the user experience[1]. And this is creating more demands on Production Operations to keep applications up and running efficiently and catch up to the agility race.  They are grappling with lots of data and existing tools.

Are the current tools adequate for the job?  Is it time to build a larger war room to manage the tsunami of monitoring data? Where do we go from here?

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[1] Brian Solis,”As Digital Darwinism Evolves, Enterprise Organizations Must Learn New Ways To Adapt And Innovate,” Forbes, Dec. 11 2018.


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