Sunday, March 22, 2015

Microservices: the future or empty hype?

As is common with the advent of new technology, there currently exists a lot of hype around the concept of microservices. Hype does not necessarily equate with superiority, and blindly following the hype can easily result in us making all of the same old mistakes in completely new and different ways.

In order to be more effective at software development, we need to take a step back and unravel the hype from reality.

There are a few broad classes of problems that microservices (in fact, any technology choice) cannot solve for you:

  • Incorrect requirements – Clearly if we start with requirements that are wrong, it won’t matter how fast we can develop, deploy, or scale a system. This goes much deeper than you might think. How often do developers rush off to build exactly what the business stakeholders ask for, only to find out (much) later that it’s not what they actually need? Business stakeholders tend to present us with “solutions” masquerading as requirements. You don’t want the business stakeholders designing your system for you. That’s not their job. 
  • Weak processes – If you have almost non-existent unit testing, very little integration/acceptance testing, and ultimately the criteria for shipping software is “It works on my machine” then microservices certainly can’t save you. 
  • Bad habits – Clearly you, reading this technical article, do not have any bad coding habits, but we probably can’t say the same for every last member of our team. Microservices is not going to magically prevent them from writing crappy code. 
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