Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

Microservices, the Cloud and Us

Posted by Pete McBreen 24 Aug 2021 at 21:04

In a presentation on Modular Monoliths Simon Brown had a great comment on Microservices

If you can’t build a modular monolith, what makes you think microservices is the answer?

Or as Architect Clippy said it

I see you have a poorly structured monolith. Would you like me to convert it into a poorly structured set of microservices?

Marcus Ranum has had similar thoughts

I love it when software developers say “How hard can it be?!” and decide to build their own complete replacement system. The results are usually about as bad as the first system, for the same reason. To be fair, this stuff is really hard to write – which is all the more reason to be skeptical when someone says they’ll just put together a modular cloud-based version of their own. You should always ask “why do you believe you will get right the things that everyone else got wrong? Because the reasons that they got it wrong apply to you, as well.”

Overall it seems that although the cloud and microservices are seen as synonymous, microservices bring with them a lot of extra complexity and interdependencies that cost time and effort to resolve and work around. Justin Etheredge has written that it is all about scale

The problems I’ve dealt with are not at the scale of Google, Facebook, or Uber.

Few organizations have to deal with the problem of how to coordinate more than 100 developers. Yes, Spotify and Amazon have that sort of problem, but most of us do not. So it is therefore very likely that the solutions that work for their scale of problem might not be the best ones for the rest of us.

An example that I have seen recently is that of a web application that was moved from the old style LAMP stack to an Angular single page application front end supported by a REST API at the backend. So now a change to the requirements meant that the release of the typescript changes to the angular pages had to be coordinated with the release of the REST API changes (which needed to be versioned in case there were old clients using the prior version of the service).