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How will microservices development benefit enterprise architecture?

Microservices development requires organizations to abandon the monolithic models they are familiar with. But what can an enterprise architecture gain from microservices?

Microservices development involves building applications as a collection of self-contained services. This stands...

in sharp contrast to the traditional model of building apps as monolithic, single stacks. But how can microservices benefit enterprise architecture?

The four layers

In large organizations, enterprise architecture involves four layers:

  1. The business perspective. This includes the goals, objectives and strategy of an organization.
  2. The application perspective. This involves the various applications that are integrated and that, together, enable the business strategy.
  3. The information perspective. This layer is about the storage, analysis, usage and policies that govern the use of data within the confines of an organization.
  4. The technology perspective. This is the infrastructure layer comprised of all devices, servers, cloud instances and networking protocols that enable applications and data.
Four layers of enterprise architecture

Microservices development affects all these layers, but in different ways. Let's examine those effects.

Accelerates product pipelines

Microservices empower organizations to be more competitive and achieve their business goals and objectives faster. They do this by delivering efficiencies across the software development pipeline and bringing applications and releases to market quicker.

Stronger integration

In the application layer, disparate systems can be better integrated with each other, as there is more parity across applications. Across the board, uniform technologies enable applications to communicate more effectively. This enables cross-team collaboration.

Better data management

Microservices let you decouple application data from code and the underlying infrastructure. This makes data both more portable and more easily available to multiple applications. As data is better organized and processed, it enables completely new possibilities.

Cluster distribution

Microservices require a different kind of infrastructure from monolithic applications. Rather than powerful single-server setups, microservice-based applications utilize highly distributed clusters of nodes. These clusters can be orchestrated and managed as a single supercomputer. This distributed approach provides high fault tolerance and powerful processing capabilities.

Remember the benefits

Microservices development has far-reaching impact within the enterprise. As you consider moving to a microservices approach, keep in mind all four layers of your architecture that will undergo change for the better.

Next Steps

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This was last published in April 2017

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What other benefits do you think microservices bring to the enterprise in general?
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Business perspective is not only about goals, objectives and strategy. It includes also organizational structure, processes and people/actors.
For the other benefits, I would say:
- from business perspective - by "forcing" you to think about boundaries between different business contexts, they help you to better understand the business domain. This will lead to better design of future microservices
-from business perspective - they support agile organizational structure and help to build better ownership and empowerment.
-from application perspective - they allow you to use different frameworks for different needs (polyglot microservices), as long as your teams and organization is ready for it.
-from technology perspective - they minimize the long-term commitment to a single technology stack and help you deploy easier/faster.
But I think it's necessary to say, it's not all only about benefits. Microservices are not suitable approach for every situation. They bring you significant architecture complexity, so you should know, when to use them. And that is the role of Enterprise Architecture. To define such guidelines and principles. Only then can the organization make full use of their benefits.
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