What Are Microservices? - Top Characteristics

Microservice architecture, commonly referred to as 'microservices,' is a development strategy that divides software into modules with specialized functions and specific interfaces. 

Difference Between Microservices and Monolithic Architectures

Microservices have gained popularity over the past few years as enterprises have embraced agile DevOps and continuous testing procedures. Amazon, eBay, Netflix, PayPal, Twitter, and Uber, among others, have abandoned monolithic architectures in favor of microservices. The monolithic architecture is comprised of big, autonomous applications. Such applications are not easily modifiable due to the interrelated nature of the entire system. Even a little alteration to the code may necessitate the development and deployment of an entirely new version of the software. As scaling a particular function would necessitate scaling the entire application, scaling monolithic apps is similarly tough.

Microservices solve these difficulties of monolithic architecture by adopting a modular software development strategy. With Microservices applications are rearchitected as a combination of multiple independent, interconnected services. Each service is independently deployed and executes a customized workflow. The services can store, and process data using various approaches and can be developed in several computer languages, if necessary. All processes in a monolithic application rely significantly on one another and operate as a single service. In such a design, a rise in the bandwidth need of a single process would necessitate scaling up the entire architecture.

The Architecture of an Ecommerce Application

Since a monolithic application is built on the same code base, adding or expanding features becomes difficult, particularly as the code base grows larger and more complex. Furthermore, monolithic applications may be prone to failure. This is because tightly connected, interdependent processes are easily impacted when a single process fails. All of this restricts innovation and can make it difficult for businesses to remain flexible and responsive; this could put them at a disadvantage in a market that is very dynamic and customer-centric. Microservices allow huge applications to be subdivided into smaller, autonomous components. Each 'component' has its own responsibilities and can carry them out independently of the actions of the other components. An application based on microservices calls upon the aggregate services of these components to satisfy user requests.

Microservices design is excellent for modern digital enterprises that cannot always account for the various device kinds that may use their infrastructure. As unanticipated requirements arose in the post-pandemic environment, several monolithic apps were gradually converted to microservices. Using APIs to enable communication between microservices and older monolithic architecture, big enterprise settings can be modernized.

Characteristics of a Microservices Architecture

Five essential characteristics of a microservices architecture are listed below.

1. Split into numerous components

Microservices architecture-based software is, by definition, composed of multiple component services. Each service can be independently developed, deployed, and updated without compromising the application's integrity. Rather of redeploying the entire program, scalability can be achieved by modifying a few specific services.

2. Robust and resistant to failure

Microservices-based apps fail seldom. Services can fail, affecting operations. Failure is inevitable in a microservices scenario, as different services link to perform functions. In a correctly organized microservices-based application, an unavailable function might reroute traffic while its connected services continue to run. Monitoring microservices and restoring them rapidly in case of a breakdown can reduce interruption risk.

3. Simple routing process

Microservices are data- and logic-processing components. "Dumb wires" connect these components and transmit data. Simple routing is the reverse of several commercial application architectures. An enterprise service bus uses complicated message routing, choreography, and business rules. Microservices receive requests, process them, and send the output to the requesting component.

4. Decentralized operations

Microservices use several technologies and platforms. Traditional centralized governance methods are inefficient for microservices architecture. Microservices benefit from decentralized governance as developers create important solutions to handle operational difficulties. These tools can be shared with other developers with similar issues. Each microservice application in a microservices architecture handles its own database. Monolithic systems use a centralized database for all applications.

5. Built for modern businesses

Microservices architecture is designed to meet the needs of contemporary digital organizations. In conventional monolithic designs, teams construct features such as the user interface, technological layers, databases, and server-side logic. In contrast, microservices rely on cross-functional teams. Each team is responsible for developing unique products based on individual services that broadcast and receive data via a message bus.


Microservices deconstruct monolithic software into smaller, more manageable components. Although a microservices architecture offers various advantages for the right use case, the shift might be challenging. The ultimate objective of shifting to microservices is to establish a decentralized, loosely linked, and independent structure. Amazon, Netflix, and Uber are leading technology organizations that use microservices to run efficiently while avoiding severe operational issues.

Written and curated by: Amit K Jain, Enterprise Architect, Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA), Deloitte Consulting, USA. You can follow him on LinkedIn

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