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Apr 5, 2019 | 3 minute read

Microservices: why less is more

written by Evan Klein

When enterprises began implementing ecommerce platforms back in the early 2000s, the monolith architecture at the time delivered. It was one unified application; the most essential features and functionalities were pre-packaged, and the requirements were easy to meet.

Since then customer and market demands have evolved and become more complex and delivery expectations are now urgent. The monolithic architectures that took on these new features and functionalities have become slower. Posing a major dilemma, as speed and flexibility are competitive differentiators for enterprises. And, with the business driver behind this being customer and experience-led commerce, organizations are now seeking more flexible software infrastructures – like microservices – so that they can iterate faster.

Unlike monolith architectures, microservices are small services that are individually developed and deployed. Communicating via APIs, microservices reduce software complexity, scale vertically, and increase flexibility, speed and resiliency.

This turn toward microservices is enabling enterprise agility. Customer demands can be met in days versus weeks or months, which ultimately better positions enterprises against competitors, Amazon and upstarts.

Microservices architectures benefits

Faster go-to-market 

Instead of waiting for the entire platform to be ready for implementation, microservices architectures enable the fastest-go-to-market time, as businesses can launch core components in sequence versus all at once. This not only makes for quick implementations, but it also allows businesses to upgrade individual features and functionalities à la carte.

Better and clearer code

Monolith platforms operate on a tightly coupled frontend and backend. Any personalization or customization request involves editing the database, code, and front-end platform, which is extremely time-intensive. Moreover, developers must be mindful that customization changes do not infringe on future upgrades.

With microservices, development experiments are not dependent on modifications to both the frontend and backend code, and therefore less risky. This gives developers more experimental freedom to try new development methodologies and easily conduct A/B testing.

For example, perhaps a developer would like to implement a Progressive Web App (PWA). PWAs are not a new framework, but a set of practices that delivers a mobile app-like experience to users via the web; essentially users can install an application from a browser, to their phone, which will work offline just like an app. This type of experiment can be easily run and tested via microservices architecture since the backend is not required.

Pay for what is actually used and use what is actually needed

Because microservices are a componentized architecture, businesses can select and customize the features and functionalities that they truly require from their commerce platform. Moreover, microservices offer the option to either use the platform’s entire set of features or deploy individual services, one at a time.

Instead of implementing a feature-rich platform that won’t fully be utilized, microservices architectures offer the flexibility to purchase, implement and use the functionalities and features you truly need. This makes for significant cost-savings and quicker time to market with implementation and updates.

Continuous innovation is expedited

Market demands are constantly changing, and it’s not enough for the technology to be capable – it must be available immediately.

One way for businesses to stay ahead is by adopting a continuous innovation delivery model. Essentially, this method of development delivers an MVP quickly, based on crucial customer needs. From there, the business continuously iterates and improves upon the MVP leveraging user behavior insights and prioritizing market demands. This is one of the most efficient delivery methodologies.

Pairing this type of delivery with a microservices architecture enables quick innovation. Because microservices allows a business to address individual components of the commerce platform at any time, innovation happens at a more rapid pace as microservices fuel flexibility.

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