What are microservices? Lightweight software development explained

You’re sitting on hundreds of thousands of lines of legacy C++. Oh, who are we trying to kid? It’s millions of lines of Vectran, a short-lived Fortran variant created by IBM in the 1970s. But, hey, if it ain’t broke, right? Except it is broken. Any time someone tries to add a feature, the thing breaks. Even trying to fix bugs creates more bugs. But if you just don’t touch it, it keeps on working.

The problem is that innovation demands agility and velocity. All the cool companies that never had to worry about Y2K are outpacing your clunky old legacy software. Investors are demanding the next big thing. Customers are jumping ship in droves.

The answer is to kill your application monoliths, and not create any more new ones. The way to do that is by using microservices architecture, a technique that breaks large applications into lightweight apps that can be scaled horizontally.

Microservices defined

Microservices segment functionality into separate applications that are loosely coupled by RESTful APIs. For example, eBay created separate Java servlet applications that handled users, items, accounts, feedback, transactions, and more than 70 other elements back in 2006. Each of those logical functional applications is a microservice.

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