Microservices, by definition, involve “an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of loosely coupled services which implement business capabilities. The microservice architecture enables the continuous delivery or deployment of large, complex applications. It also enables an organization to evolve its technology stack.”

If you haven’t heard the term “microservices” specifically, you may have heard about companies moving solutions to the cloud or adapting services to the cloud. This often involves the implementation of microservices solutions.

But what does that all mean in the context of your business? How can it help eliminate some of the traditional challenges of a startup in evolving product? How do you access it? Why is it something you should consider?

What does it all mean?

Essentially, microservices are the smaller components that make up the larger whole. Rather than looking at, or developing your product as a single entity, a microservices approach to development takes the perspective of multiple individual units working together to deliver specific solutions and functionality. In the world of nature, consider the difference between a single-celled organism compared with a multi-celled organism. When the single cell becomes damaged or is no longer viable, it dies. When one cell in a multi-cell organism is damaged, there is greater likelihood the organism will adapt and survive.

In the world of development, it used to be that a product would be launched and at some point, would reach a bottleneck once too many users came on board and the functionality reached its peak. At that time, a complete upgrade would be needed and that would suffice, at least until the next bottleneck, when the process would start all over again.

With a microservices approach that divides the entire system into components, upgrades can be deployed in different stages and with different architecture, as needed. Elements can be scaled up, or down, depending on user demand. Essentially, microservices provide high-level technical solutions with high bandwidth that are scalable to fit any demand.

The microservices domain

The premise behind microservices is that developers reuse existing solutions. Something like custom-making a pizza by selecting from a list of available toppings, developers can select from a catalogue of services and functions which are stored on the cloud, developing the custom solution they are after, without starting from scratch.

Key providers of these microservices include Google (App Engine), Amazon (AWS), and Microsoft (Azure). Even IBM offers its own microservices, but these tend to be for larger private companies and part of an overall service. As with any service provider, the function and focus of each provider is different and must align with the needs of the startup to make sense.

Google for instance is focused on delivering artificial intelligence (AI) and doesn’t offer a lot in the way of infrastructure. Amazon offers the largest number and variety of solutions and has a strong infrastructure offering. Microsoft makes sense, especially where you have a team fluent in and using its language. There are also open source marketplaces that, depending on the need, may be sufficient.

What’s the greatest benefit?

For most startups, operating budgets are a common challenge and the skill sets of the founding or growing team may be somewhat limited. Microservices offer a way to develop a solution with less financial strain and more cost effectively. Where a relatively common solution, such as an ecommerce application for instance, is sought, an open source marketplace, where people can share what they have developed and take away what they need, makes sense. For more innovative and distinct solutions, the creation of something that doesn’t yet exist, the various microservices providers offer wider variety and greater functionality through their many components.

Microservices architecture also provides your team something they likely haven’t before had access to – the ability to publish in a straight path through testing, development, and production environments.

The wide variety of microservices options available and functions to select from can be overwhelming; something akin to a kid in a candy story if you will. It is therefore worth spending a little time, and perhaps money, with an architect who knows what is available, understands the solution you seek, and can advise you on where and what to look for. Keep in mind that your solution cannot be a bit from this provider and a bit from that so aligning the needs of the company, which components offer the best fit, and which provider offers the most comprehensive solutions to meet the needs, is key.

What solution are you looking to develop? What questions do you have about microservices and how they might benefit you? Let us know below.