Murali Bandaru, Chief Information Officer, American Tire Distributors
As businesses face ongoing pressure to become more agile and scale faster than ever before, innovations and approaches are quickly shifting in order to make this process more efficient. As part of this, a new approach – microservices architecture – is quickly becoming a central part of software development and especially in middleware/integration layers.
Microservices architecture, or MSA, is a granular architectural pattern that separates monolithic portions of an application into smaller, service-oriented autonomous components that create an app or software solution. This, in turn, simplifies the complexity of the systems and makes it easier to understand, easier to change, and easier to scale.
In the software development community, conversations around MSA have been increasing as more businesses are starting to adopt this new approach in order to boost efficiencies.
The benefits of microservices architecture
Each business has unique needs and not every business needs to adopt MSA. However, MSA can directly address the need to be more agile and more scalable. There’s a faster “speed to market” expectation for businesses across industries, and MSA could be the key to meeting those expectations.
For example, at American Tire Distributors (ATD), one of the largest independent suppliers of tires to the replacement tire industry, we needed a high level of scalability and agility for our integration needs in our eCommerce solution ecosystem.
We developed a microservices framework based on an open source platform along with a completely automated deployment process (automated CI/CD pipeline that efficiently automates all relevant infrastructure and application components) to solve this problem quickly and efficiently.
Keys to successful MSA implementation 1. Review Business Goals
The first step in successfully implementing microservices is ensuring it aligns with business goals. Identifying business capabilities and products that can benefit from MSA at the onset, will help define the path of implementation. Simple questions to help chart a path to MSA implementation include:
• What is the business problem?
• What are you trying to achieve?
• How does it impact goals? Revenue?
Asking questions and getting buy-in from business leaders can help gauge if the company is up for a challenging, yet valuable, project ahead.
2. Have the Right Team
Building this type of platform is only possible with a strong team of solution architects and passionate experts who are committed to seeing the project through. At ATD, our solution required a lot of initial brainstorming and facing more questions than answers. This required the team to fully commit and believe in the solution that was being built and prepare for a number of complex challenges along the way. It’s also important to leverage key skills in your internal teams that could upskill from a technology perspective, as they already have the right domain expertise, before leveraging external resources with relevant skillsets.
3. Weigh All Your Options
Developing and introducing a new framework is no easy task. As such, it’s important to take the time to review all commercially available tools and associated costs. From there, compare those commercially available tools with building it from scratch on an open source software toolset, the associated time constraints and the skillset needed from your team or a third-party vendor to develop the new framework.
The Power of MSA
The new MSA framework at ATD complements our legacy service-oriented architecture environment, especially in areas where we need a high level of scalability and agility. It also gives ATD and other businesses the opportunity to continue to quickly build and integrate with other solutions like IoT, blockchain and such using this framework.
The opportunities for innovation and efficiency are endless, and an MSA framework along with a completely automated deployment process provides a solution, saving both time and money to achieve business goals.