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Should you consider microservice architecture for mobile?

Microservices can offer flexibility for developers, but should they be using it for mobile development? Matthew David offers his take.

The keys to better mobile development may be hidden with the microservice architecture. Here we explore the fundamentals...

of microservices and why they should be a central part of mobile planning.

The model for mobile delivery is based on four layers: the UI/client, network services, APIs and systems of record. Each layer can be abstracted and tuned for mobile customers. Fundamentally, a microservice is an API with a very particular focus. Unlike complex APIs, such as Google Maps, a microservice is a small service that only has one objective: to leverage collections of microservices together to form a solution. Within the development, there is a concept of Object-Oriented Programming -- a model organized around objects and data instead of actions and logic. Microservices offer a similar concept for APIs, and each service is a unique function of itself.

The approach to building a microservice architecture should be as follows:

  • First, ask: What is the business challenge? Break down the different business challenges into small parts that form each stage of the enterprise problem. Each section can be one or more microservices.
  • Avoid extensive APIs. If the microservice is getting too complicated, then you are giving the service too much functionality.

The goal is to have a series of services that can be strung together to meet the needs of future business problems. The fundamentals for work activities are not too different. There will be different persona types, situations and systems to connect too. Define each scenario in the business opportunity and examine if you have the right microservice to resolve the issue. Companies should resist the temptation to extend an existing API to fix a business problem if a service does not exist. Instead, break down the problem into components and build the services. With a collection of only 30 microservices, you will be able to resolve hundreds of business problems.

The power of adopting a microservice architecture is that you can focus on delivering new business tools fast. A microservice must remain small for it to be successful, as keeping the service small is much easier to maintain. Instead of managing larger APIs with verbose code structure, a Microservice can be updated and deployed in very short iterations.

Microservices should be central to the mobile development you are defining today.

Next Steps

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This was last published in January 2016

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