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Microservices: the heart of digitalization

Felipe SilbersteinAugust 22, 2022

Modular architectures help us develop applications scalable and built from the best components.

They optimize digital innovation and accelerate time-to-market, regardless of whether it is the platform as a whole or the features we add over time.

Developers worldwide, including us, recognize microservices, which are connected via API calls, as the heart driving forward companies across the globe as well as the economy’s digital transformation. They’re the key component of the modular approach, so it’s essential to know the latest trends and how they contribute to digitalization.

Microservices: the heart of digitalization
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The modular architecture is very popular among developers, and in 2021 a Statista report found that 37% of organizations surveyed worldwide utilized it. As one of the main elements of microservices, we will look at the trends boosting and strengthening development around this technology:

Kubernetes (known as Kube or k8s)

It’s an open source and extensible platform designed to manage and orchestrate application clusters and containers, perfect for building the right environment to run microservices or applications isolated from others.

Today it’s a modular development standard since we can efficiently manage and distribute unlimited containers as well as implement automatic repairs on them. It’s also possible to balance network traffic loads, migrate them between environments and deploy them easily.

Artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOP)

It develops workflow automation tools for IT operations teams by utilizing AI and Machine Learning. For example, we can employ cloud and distributed containerization within microservices to automate security breach detection and change data structures.

DevOps (development & operations)

It’s a set of software development principles, practices, and tools promoting collaboration, communication, and integration between development, IT operations, security, and quality engineering teams. The goal is to foster lifelong progress and the creation of higher quality and more reliable software.

When working with microservices, we utilize them throughout different project phases to implement and test functional and non-functional components; thus, software development and deployment can be agile and seamless. Plus, DevOps provides fast, timely, and effective incident and IT service management, regardless of how complex the architecture is and the number of environments where it is deployed.

Serverless

It means serverless architecture, and we can run applications without having to provision and manage server infrastructure, as this is the cloud provider’s job. It’s a kind of functions-as-a-service platform. When it comes to creating an ideal environment for cloud/native development and delivery, it’s very useful for agile development and a great complement to microservices.

Service Mesh and container security

This is a dedicated infrastructure layer for communicating services or microservices with each other via a proxy. In other words, it works as a mesh connecting microservices and, without needing to do it on each component, ensures monitoring, scalability, and high availabilit

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How do microservices accelerate the construction of modular digital architecture?

Modular architecture creates complex platforms and integrates functionality from small, well-defined modules such as microservices. These self-contained elements communicate via APIs and are usually packaged in containers.

The isolation between different components of the application means that it can be scaled independently through orchestration and automation processes so that each component operates as a stand-alone application. Let’s look at a successful case:

Emirates NBD Group: migrating from monolith to a modular architecture

In 2017, the Emirates NBD Group, a leading banking group in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT), witnessed how its IT capacity struggles to meet the growing demand for innovative digital products and services. In the wake of this, they did a diagnostic but first asked themselves, how can we improve?

It was found that there were several technologies available, but for them, it meant slowing down and making digital transformation initiatives more expensive and less innovative. This was because those technologies were difficult to integrate and were poorly aligned with the banking group’s different locations. It was time to upgrade the entire IT architecture and simplify cross-platform integration.

It wasn't a hasty re-platforming; instead, pieces of the old system were reused following the decoupled approach, bridging the old platform with the new one via APIs.

APIs were a key element in modularizing all of its IT resources. Today they are at the heart of its architecture and have a central part in the digital strategy, focusing on three fundamental elements:

  • Sahab (cloud): applications run on an automated private cloud platform.
  • Bawaba (gate): is the group-wide API platform. It manages over 800 microservices and communicates all of its channels, application, and data platform.
  • Manara (lighthouse): is the company data platform that provides real-time data exchange between the platform’s applications.
    • “Talent was a factor for success - having the right engineers and project managers is key to scaling to an API-driven ecosystem. This required finding a balance between hiring new members and training existing ones.” - Neeraj Makin from Emirates NBD Group.

      By adopting modular architecture with microservices, the banking group significantly increased the effectiveness and efficiency of its IT team's performance. It also created business value by integrating multiple capabilities to optimize the customers’ digital experience and establish visibility for its products and services in multiple locations.

Breaking down the myths around microservices and modular architecture

Many misconceptions have emerged from the popularity of this approach to software development and the benefits discussed throughout the text. So, clarifying them is necessary:

  • Microservices are not meant to be cheaper compared to monolithic architecture.
  • Although they simplify development, they increase the complexity of the platform, requiring greater maturity of the strategy.
  • Implementing it requires professionals with specialized skills and knowledge.
  • While the API and microservices ecosystem are quite big, not all components are feasible in a project. It is necessary to have the ability to identify and prioritize them based on their business value.
    • What did we learn from this analysis?

      Adopting microservices architecture is the first step in developing a Cloud Native ecosystem, the future of applications. Gartner’s predictions point out that cloud-native platforms were behind 40% of new digital initiatives, but by 2025 the figure will be over 95%.

      The lesson from Emirates NBD Group's experience is that success is only achieved with the right team; training and hiring specialized personnel made results slow to appear. But let us tell you: that step isn't necessary since getting consulting services is a better choice.

      Want to know the results we have accomplished?

      We had been working with Embonor since 2018. They gave us a big challenge: to reach the goal of enabling a B2C e-Commerce platform with a first-class digital experience, along with the interconnection of the systems to promote a B2B platform.

      Working with Contentful, we manage all marketing elements and synchronize a large portfolio of products with the rest of the systems, seamlessly bringing them to the customer across the different digital channels. This resulted in delivering a unique experience to their users.

      The inter-system linking was done with API calls, completely optimizing the digital architecture of the platform. MACH Alliance noted this and recognized the case as the best B2B 2022 project.

      At Reign, we are experts in creating flexible and modular solutions, making us the right technology partner to execute the transformation of your IT infrastructure and boost your digital agenda. All you have to do is make the decision, and we will do the rest.