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Microservices in SOA World and Enterprise Integrations

Last two-years everyone is talking about Microservices and they want to apply it anywhere.

It’s the same story with containers and docker (and it was before with Cloud Approach and even before that with SOA, BPM, EDA….).

Anything that has enough buzz from the community, it results with all customers (and “all kind” of customers) trying to apply the “new fashion” no matter what. Because of that all the System Integrator trying to search for somewhere where it fits (or even if it doesn’t fit…) to apply this “new thing” because it is “what we have to do now”. It’s like the fashion business. What is trendy today? That? Ok, Let’s do that.

Don’t get my wrong, this post is not going to be against microservice because I love the concept and I love the advantages it comes with it and how good it is to go to this kind of model.

But, I’d like to talk about some specific aspects that were not in the common talk and experience with this kind of technology. This pattern, model or paradigm, it is great and it is a proven success.

You can watch any Adrian Cockcroft talk about his experience at Netflix to be sure this is not only a BuzzWord (#NotOnlyABuzzWord) but, is it able to be use on all cases?

When we usually watch a talk about microservices is always the same story: microservices vs monolith application, especially web applications following some kind of client — server pattern or even a MVC pattern or something similar. And for that kind of applications is great, simple and clear.

But, what about Enterprise Applications where from the last decades we were following a SOA Approach: Is it applicable here?

For sure there are a lot of differences between Microservice Approach (the pure one, the one that Martin Fowler used in his article) and the SOA Paradigm. They don’t share the same principles but at the end they are closer than the usual contestants you see in all the talks (monolith webapp vs microservices)

Microservices talks about breaking the monolith and that’s easy for a web application, but what about an SOA Architecture? In this case is not even possible to go down that path.

If you ever have worked in Enterprise Integration you have seen some silos and it is mandatory to do not touch them and keep them that way. It is something not open to discuss.

They existed different reasons for that decision: It could be because they are so legacy no one knows about them, about how they do what they do, or could be because they are so critical no-one is going to down-path or only because they are not business-case to justify to replace this kind of silos.

So, what about now? Can we go down the path Microservices or should we stick with SOA approach? Microservices is not only about breaking the silos but is something very important, so no, we can not go the Microservices path for Enterprise Integrations, but we can gather all the other advantages the Microservices includes and try to applying it to our integration layer (now, we wouldn’t be talking about SOA Architecture because most of this advantages are against some of the SOA principles)

Microservices Wave is also about Agile & DevOps, about to be faster, to be automated, to be better, to reduce your time to market. It is about cloud (not in the term or public cloud but in the term that not be tied to your infrastructure). It is all about that things too.

So, Microservices are about so many things that we could apply even if we couldn’t go 100% over this. There are several names to this approach like Service-Based Architecture, but I’d like much more the micro-services approach (with dash in between, talking about services that are micro) because I think it explains better the approach.

So, we’d like to do smaller services to be more flexible, to be able to apply all this Devops things, and there we can apply all the other things related to the Microservices Wave.

And that’s not something new, that’s not something that is starting now or in the last years.

It is something that I’ve been seen since the beginning in my career (a decade ago) when I’ve started working with TIBCO AMX BusinessWorks that gives you the chance to decide yourself the scope of your services and depending on the needs to could create “Enterprise Applications” or you could go for “Enterprise Services” or “Small Services” that worked together to do the job.

And that path has been followed not only by TIBCO but some other companies as well, with the evolution of the ESB concept to be adapted for the new era, that were more like PaaS where allowed you to run your services in a “some-kind” of containerized world.

For example, TIBCO AMX Platform (from 2006) you could develop your services and applications using several kind of languages and options like the Graphical Editor for Mediations or Java, C/C++, .NET, Spring and so on using SCA standard and running on a elastic OSGI-based platform where you can manage all of them in the same way (sounds similar, right? :) )

What about reusing? SOA paradigm have very high standard to ensure the reuse of the services and entreprise registry and repository… and microservice is (at the beggining) against reuse, you should duplicate instead of reusing to be able to be self-contained and more free. But, the latest advances on Microservices includes an Orchestration layer, things like Conductor that are going the path of reusing and orchestration. So, we can find a middle place, when you need to reuse if possible but not stop your agility to ensure 100% reuse of the chances available. Time to market is the critical driver here for everyone now, and all the “principles” have to adapt to that.

What about DevOps and Cloud? No problem, here you could include the same techniques for this case like you were doing previously. Infrastructure as Code, Contianers, Continuous Integration & Deployment and so on.

What about agile standards REST/JSON and so on? No problems here as well.

In summary, you can adopt and implement most of the flavors and components of the Microservices movement, but you need to compromise on others as well, and you are not going to be used “pure” Microservices, you are going to use another thing, and that’s not bad. You always have to adapt any paradigm for your specific use case.