Why is a cloud-native software architecture with microservices APIs much better than monoliths for agile software development?
The architecture of any structure or system reflects its design philosophy and software is no different. Monolithic applications are the products of an era dominated by waterfall methodologies and rigid specifications. This used to be standard practice, but primarily due to a lack of viable alternatives. This has fortunately changed in recent years with an explosion of innovation across the computer software world. And agile software development with microservices APIs based on Cloud-native software architectures brings a bunch of benefits compared to monoliths.
Unless your business handles mission-critical objectives, such as putting a man on the moon, the rigid structure of a monolith is likely doing more harm than good. For the vast majority of businesses, it's increasingly important to plan for the unknowns of tomorrow. Preparing for the unknown requires less focus on specs and more on providing a robust pathway for evolutionary change. This is where monolithic applications come up short.
Addressing the monolith in the room
If there's a better alternative, why do so many businesses still use a monolithic architecture for their software? There's the valid viewpoint of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Some companies have systems in place which still serve just as well as they did 5 or 10 years ago. The employees all know how the system is supposed to work. Senior engineers enjoy the comfort of systems built with the same ideologies they first learned in college. Management doesn't want to invest lots of money without an exceptionally good reason, so why rock this particular boat?
The truth is, the advantages of abandoning the old monolith are simply too great for businesses to ignore any longer. Even if you aren't aware of any pressing issues with your current systems, the unrealized gains from modernized software developed with microservices APIs based on cloud-native architectures represent a resource untapped. And if you don't tap into it, sooner or later, your competition will. That might not make a difference today or tomorrow, but can your company afford to lag as the pace of innovation continues to increase?
What if there were a better way? What if your software could adapt to change rapidly and seamlessly? Is there perhaps a streamlined path of upgrading, one that lets you enjoy modern advancements while preserving your existing front-end and user experience?
Enter agile software development with microservices APIs based on cloud-native software
Instead of one giant machine full of interdependent moving parts, imagine a series of small, self-contained modules. Where the monolith enforces a rigid structure, this collection of modules offers flexibility. Each module is responsible for a single, easily defined task called a microservice.
It's not unlike using a smartphone. Do you need directions? There's an app for that. Does your software need to look up a customer's address? There's a module for that. If one day, you decide you need a different tool for directions, you wouldn't need to make any fundamental changes to your phone or its software. You'd just download a different app. In the same way, software engineers can selectively update, change, or remove modules of code without touching the greater infrastructure of your software ecosystem. In today's dynamic business world, where software requirements could change at any time, this gives your software team a crucial edge.
This advantage becomes more pronounced when relying on a cloud-based infrastructure to provide necessary services. Your company's software team can stay focused on the everyday needs of the business, and let cloud computing staff handle the lower-level concerns of hardware, server uptime, etc. This frees up some of your most valuable creative resources, allowing the most exciting challenges to stay at the forefront of their efforts.
Additional advantages of microservices APIs
The modular approach of providing microservices boasts several additional strengths when it comes to:
- Rapid Development Cycles
- Ease of Testing
- Platform Agnostic Interoperability
Rapid development cycles
Due to the focus on granular independence, modular programming naturally lends itself to the agile software development with microservices APIs. Teams no longer have to strive to stay agile in spite of an underlying architecture that discourages it. With the modular approach, solutions for granular goals can be deployed almost as soon as the code is written and vetted.
Scalability in cloud-native environments
Monoliths often require overpowered hardware to handle surges in usage or code inefficiencies. By moving to a cloud-based, modular architecture, processing power and availability of services can scale automatically alongside the demands of your front-end. This can eliminate performance hiccups during periods of heavy traffic. It also saves businesses money by only incurring the expense of extra hardware when it's actually in use.
Additional gains in efficiency come from incorporating modern languages such as Node.js, which are built from the ground up to handle high volumes of concurrent data requests. By starting with a software ecosystem tailor-built for modern business needs, your software engineers create higher quality results in less time.
Future-proofing thanks to better software development with microservices APIs
Monolithic programming encourages or even requires codependencies which defeat attempts to future-proof the software. Over time, the list of dependencies can grow to warrant its own body of documentation. Or worse, there may not be any documentation, with perhaps only a single team member retaining special knowledge of underlying code libraries. This type of scenario is more common than you might imagine and brews in silence. More than one company has experienced a total disaster after losing a developer with arcane knowledge.
By using a modular system from the start, you encourage better programming practices that help to directly future-proof your cloud-native software. Also, this approach empowers new hires to quickly learn a system with a minimum of outside guidance or documentation required. Software development with microservices APIs makes your solution future-proof!
Ease of testing on API level
The self-contained nature of each microservice makes it among the most practical types of systems to test. Custom testing frameworks are relatively simple and straightforward to construct. Any unexpected test result will refer to a small slice of code with self-contained logic, sparing software engineers from leaping across function calls and libraries in search of the underlying bug.
Platform agnostic interoperability
Cloud-native microservices share data in standardised, web-compatible API formats that are consumable by virtually any form of application. This aides businesses to smoothly transition away from legacy back-end systems while preserving the vast majority of their existing front-end. The de-coupling of back-end and front-end is often also referred to as "Headless Commerce" or "API-driven Commerce".
Agile software development with microservices APIs for any season
Especially for any software team that relies on agile or comparable methodologies, cloud-based microservices represent a far leaner and more responsive way of shipping quality features in less time. For companies looking to transition, it offers a gradual path for upgrading that spreads the cost out over time instead of requiring a steep initial investment. And most-often, there is no need to install any software. Instead, microservices APIs can be consumed on an API level, which means that the software vendor guarantees the availability and performance of the APIs.
With all these compelling reasons to switch development practices, it's a wonder that so many companies are still using monolith applications. But if you want your business to be a wonder, consider making it a modern wonder instead of an ancient one.
How does SAAS support agile software development?
SAAS Software as a Service is a cloud-native software based on microservices APIs. The SAAS Commerce Cloud is a Headless Commerce solution that basically enables any kind of touchpoint and user experience. This allows rapid software development with continuous deployment and small software development teams with end-to-end responsibility for their microservices APIs.