Divided they stand: Why converting monoliths into containerized microservices makes sense

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As large-scale digitization picks up steam across industries, cloud has emerged as a key business enabler in this paradigm. Today, 94% of enterprises use the cloud with more than 80% of the workload already shifted across various cloud platforms. Consequently, the use of cloud-enabled applications, both mobile and desktop, and for both personal and office work, has also seen an upsurge in 2022.

Originally, these applications were developed to digitize manual processes in a bid to induce efficiency. Then, integration-related issues were minimal since the modules only had no or very few dependencies. However, with the evolution of the application development process, concepts like aspect-oriented designs and service-oriented architecture alongside object-oriented design patterns emerged and promptly overtook the landscape.

The advent of these concepts allowed several direct benefits. These included:

  • Modules/APIs can now be reused
  • Features can now be independently released into these modules
  • Testing cycles would end up saving money, and more

Unfortunately, these same concepts also exposed the drawbacks and limitations of monolithic architecture. They were no longer relevant in this transformed state. Barriers like technical debt, portability issues, huge testing costs with every release, and the lengthy release cycles of new features hindered the support for modern applications.

Limitations of monoliths

Monolithic applications were incompatible with the generational shift in the application development landscape. And, as business requirements grew, monolithic architecture became difficult to scale.

As an application code base grows with the expansion of the feature set, it becomes complex to update and maintain. In such a case, introducing new features, languages, frameworks, and technologies, can be an insurmountable challenge. In most cases, certain functions contained within the application are used more than others and become the points that choke the process. Why? As only those components require scaling while other components don’t. For instance, in a standard e-commerce application, the product information part is used more than the purchase module, the cart is used more than the payment pipeline, and a much smaller number of customers use the comments or purchase history sections.

For applications with a monolithic design, the codes that account for these diverse sets of tasks are deployed many times and need to be scaled as per the same grade. Due to underlying interdependencies, executing any change in the code requires the entire application to be taken down. This makes the process of updating apps longer, more cumbersome, and sometimes even counterproductive.

To ensure modern businesses can keep pace with the evolving landscape of applications, technology leaders must relook at development to ensure that applications can scale seamlessly in harmony with the rest of the enterprise.

The advantages of containerized microservices

In this context, containerizing applications with microservices can ensure compatibility. Containerization is a virtualization method that creates separation at the operating level between applications and services. Containers share the same operating system kernel as the rest of the architecture and therefore, remain connected. An application’s codes, configurations, and dependencies are easily packed into a convenient building block that helps deliver version control, developer productivity, and operational efficiency.

With containers, applications are deployed quickly, reliably, and consistently, regardless of the deployment environment. They do this by converting each function into a microservice.

Microservices use a well-defined API to allow individual application components to run their services as well as communicate with other services. Each microservice can thus be traced back to a smaller team while the overall code volume reduces drastically.

Microservices individually perform a single function and can be deployed as part of a group of services or independently. They can also be written using various programming languages and frameworks. This helps to create more agile and scalable applications as it eliminates the need to build and deploy an entirely new application version every time a functionality needs to change, or a specific function needs to scale.

There are several advantages of containerized microservices over monoliths:

  • Reduced dependence
  • Greater control
  • Higher scalability
  • Shorter TAT
  • Development ease
  • Flexible ownership
  • Resource efficiency
  • Fault isolation
  • Lower cost
  • Easy portability
  • Enhanced security
  • Easy management using an orchestration platform

Containerization also brings in auxiliary benefits around the release, testing, and operational processes for these applications. Ultimately, these features contribute to increased customer satisfaction and an overall enhanced customer experience. It is little wonder then that the market for application containers is forecasted to see steady growth over the next few years. Reports suggest that the containerization market will grow at a CAGR of more than 30% from 2020 onwards to be worth $9.7 billion by 2027.

Conclusion

For all its benefits, enterprises should be careful while adopting the containerization approach. They must tactfully evaluate which business-critical applications to turn into microservices using containerization. This will help them take a calculated step towards modernizing their applications without incurring huge costs and even costlier downtimes.

Modernizing applications in tandem with architecture modernization is a business imperative and as such requires precision of execution. In addition, service orchestration tools will be required when a sizeable number of containers are deployed. Orchestration allows for the automation of workflows with high visibility and lowered effort, but it can be complex and time-consuming. The good news is enterprises need not undertake the journey alone.

They can choose to collaborate with an experienced transformation partner like NSEIT. As a Vertical Specialist Enterprise that offers end-to-end Information Technology (IT) products, solutions, and services, NSEIT has orchestrated wholesale digital transformation for more than 500 customers globally for over two decades. With its range of cloud services, NSEIT can help enterprises adopt containerization seamlessly within their existing application architecture. This enables enterprises to stay ahead of the curve, resilient, and profitable on the long term.

Authored By: Vishal Chandane

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