Microservices for Mobile Application-A Squint into Substantiality

By CIOReview | Wednesday, March 8, 2017
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In the previous generations, Monoliths, built as single units were made responsible for running every possible function in mobile applications. These functions include bundled services  with fewer operations including—handling HTTP requests, executing domain logic, database operations, communication with the browser/client, authentication and so on. To be simple, Monolithic applications are staged on a single code base with multiple modules, which in turn are divided for varied applications. It has a single build system which builds the entire pack of applications and/or dependency with a single binary for execution and deployment. Fast-forward to the current epoch where the scenario has changed dramatically. Today, requirement for multiple applications and features to be applied on mobile devices has increased. There is a paradigm shift from simple and fewer mobile features to complex stack of advanced applications to be incorporated. These applications are vital and unavoidable as they are being applied in every corner of day-to-day life, business processes and everything that supports the betterment of digitalization.

Today, enterprises need to sufficiently feed data to different devices and form factors like smart phone, tablet and handheld devices. Smartphone has become a part and partner in everything and is always expected to be available, always powered on and a personal device for everyone as a reliable source of information anytime, anywhere. Nevertheless, mobile applications will be lifeless without internet connectivity and backend services that drive every enterprise to develop mobile application before web. This increased demand for more mobile applications force to change back-end architecture—monolithic to microservice architecture.

Microservice architecture employs advanced approaches to building large and numerous enterprise applications with multiple smaller units—called services. These services are developed, tested and deployed separately and possess different functionalities particular to specific applications. The segregated services intercommunicate with a common communication protocol like REST, although they run individually either in single machine or different machines executing its own separate process. These services either possesses own database/storage system or they share on a common database or storage space. Therefore, Microservice is all about distributing or breaking application into segregated functions. In a monolithic architecture, all change cycles are usually tied together, which implies that even the simplest of change/modification made to a small section of applications might require building and deploying an entirely new version of the overall framework. It implies that scaling one function of an application requires scaling the entire application instead of altering just the desired components.

Martin Fowler, a British software developer, author and international public speaker on software development, points out that big players like Netflix, eBay, Amazon, the UK Government Digital Service, Twitter, PayPal, Gilt, Bluemix, Soundcloud, and The Guardian have switched from monolithic to microservice architecture. They all have shown drastic improvement in their business performance and beneficial outcomes.

Bottom Line

The fact remains that the Microservice architecture is not an ultimate solution for applications of all kinds, but it’s surely a considerable solution for simplifying the overall process of creating large enterprise applications. Microservices do increase operations overhead, demanding DevOps skills and complex to manage because of segregated system and bug tracking. However they can offer flexibility for developers simultaneously—keys to better mobile development enabling series of services that can be tied together for meeting future needs of business problems. Enterprises can switch from extending an existing API to fix a business problem to breaking down the problem into smaller components and then build appropriate services. They can, with a collection of fewer microservices, say 30 in number, to resolve hundreds of business roadblocks.