Cloud-native and microservices – before we talk about what makes them so special together, let’s start with defining the former. Here is an official definition by The Cloud Native Comptuing Foundation:
Cloud-native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach.
What lies at the heart of cloud-native is the ability to make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal effort and robust automation. This is possible by splitting complex systems into loosely coupled pieces that are resilient, manageable, and observable.
In other words, cloud-native is about speed and agility.
Today, customers are demanding more and more. They expect innovative features and they want them now. Trying to respond in such a high-paced environment, companies are making their applications more complex.
The winning approach is to put your customers at the center of what you are doing and react more quickly. This requires a cloud-native architecture such as microservices that is able to adapt to and facilitate these rapid changes.
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Microservices in a nutshell.
Microservices is a popular architectural style that is increasingly used in building modern applications today. It is used to decompose a large complex system into small, independent services that interact through well-defined interfaces.
Each service performs one business function only. In addition, each is self-contained encapsulating data logic and data within the boundaries of service. As such, each microservice hosts its own datastore. While a small team takes ownership of one service and is responsible for the development and deployment of it.
Microservices is cloud-native.
Kyle Brown, the distinguished engineer at IBM, nicely points out how cloud-native and microservices go hand-in-hand:
When you write an application following the microservices architecture, it is automatically cloud-native.
Let’s recap for a moment and realize once more that what essentially is critical to businesses today is agility. To become agile, they are doing everything to embrace Agile methods across their organizations in one way or another. Given that they do it in the right, instead of just copying someone else’s model and instead of trying to fit their organization to it (like with the Spotify model).
Agile approaches teach us in the first place that you should abandon waterfall-based application development practices. Thus shift your mindset away from viewing software projects as large, multi-year capital expenditures.
However, embracing Agile in the real sense requires technological foundations that facilitate microservices architectures. Microservice systems take full advantage of the cloud service model. By making use of the Platform as a Service (PaaS) model extensively, it achieves the following:
- disposable infrastructure – meaning you automate the lifecycle of your infra and resize, scale, and destroy it on demand
- independent scalability – host each microservice separately and scale independently
- immutable infrastructure – you do not maintain the underlying infra, when you need a change or repair, you restore and provision a new service in an automated fashion.
The capabilities of a cloud platform such as highly elastic infrastructure with automatic scaling, self-healing, and monitoring are just what make microservices a native choice for the cloud.
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