Microservices & DevOps | Using Alibaba Cloud

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By Shantanu Kaushik

Cloud computing has opened up multiple gateways for new and more advanced technologies to flourish. Just like when the concept of the Internet was introduced and later when it became more than just a concept for many. With rapid development, the Internet grew multi-folds and changed the way people exchange information. The introduction of the Internet, its advancement, and the exponential increase in its different uses created a paradigm shift. A similar paradigm shift can be noticed in cloud computing. Alibaba Cloud has been the frontrunner in adapting and making significant development in the technology practices for the masses.

Once cloud computing became general practice for medium and large organizations, it also started to attract small businesses. DevOps is the next big thing within the cloud computing architecture.

Alibaba Cloud has contributed tools like Terraform that utilize the concept of Infrastructure as Code (IAC.) With products like the server load balancer and simple application server, Alibaba Cloud has deepened its verses through practices that incorporate and suggest the current DevOps trends. This has provided its users the ability to maintain a stable stride with industry practices.

Microservices | Alibaba Cloud

Traditionally, services were developed and utilized to follow the industry standards that worked around mainframes and standalone servers, maintaining incoming and outgoing information flow. These services used to be massive applications that had to be updated with new information using a complete update rollout. This particular structure used to work, but was a tedious option to follow. It was also risky, based on the possible effect it could have on other linked systems.

Microservices, on the other hand, utilize a much simpler approach. As the name suggests, they are micro-services that translates to small services that are coupled together to make a bigger service structure or application. These can be independently scaled and decentralized.

Microservices are autonomous and provide unrestricted functionality to maintain availability and scalability. One of the best uses of microservices is the code-reuse ability. When deployed with DevOps, microservices presents itself as an extension to the containerized applications. These have a standard interface and the component can be commissioned or decommissioned depending on the usage.

Without having to develop a massive application to support your cause, you use and reuse to build on an already tested and implemented model. This cuts down the cost and coding hours. With that, it also keeps your deployment group or team small. As microservices are defined as a group of independent services coupled together, in case of a bug, only a certain service has to be updated or debugged.

Let’s take a look at a diagram of how Microservices work:

When Microservices are combined with DevOps, they utilize the architecture of smaller applications as services to achieve rapid development and deployment of new projects or capabilities. A developer needs a basic set of services to build new ones while making changes to the resources that are already available. The developer doesn’t need to take down the whole system. When certain modules are updated, the downtime is minimized to almost zero.

The best practices of DevOps already suggest using microservices for better performance, usability, and availability. This makes the whole system more scalable and doesn’t hog the system resources.

Microservices | Best Practices | Alibaba Cloud

1. The Shift — Shifting from traditional architecture to microservices can be a little tricky. Developers need to shift from the traditional approach used to develop the same larger applications into smaller segments. This is more of a cultural approach rather than a technological overlay.

2. If you are migrating — Make sure to migrate at a pace that is comfortable for you and your customers. It is also important to migrate at a pace that curbs errors. Maximum efficiency is required when making the shift to ensure lesser downtime and proper resource allocation.

3. Transform to Microservices (as a core practice) — Start to build these microservices the moment you decide to make the shift. Alibaba Cloud has setup the microservices environment with containers that mostly take care of resources and bring about a more enhanced usability scenario. Understand your modules of the larger, traditional application and make the necessary shift by changing the core approach of traditional to microservices environment.

4. Dedicated Teams — Microservices architecture with DevOps calls for frequent updates. These updates should be handled in real-time. By having dedicated teams, every aspect from development, testing, deployment, and updates must be handled by a dedicated team to ensure maximum availability and efficiency.

5. Automation — Microservices without automation is a somewhat faulty concept. While deploying your containerized application using Terraform, or to enable the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI-CD) of your application, you need to make sure that most of the processes are automated. This will ensure a healthy, low, or no-error deployment cycle.

6. Data Storage — Moving from a traditional environment to microservices can be challenging, but if done correctly, you can make the change-over simpler. Alibaba Cloud API Gateway along with the Object Storage Service (OSS) for data storage and execution will lead to a proper migration and workflow. A basic rule of thumb is to distribute the data of different microservices to ensure a non-faulty and secure exchange of information for different microservices.

7. REST API — Representational State Transfer or REST APIs prove to be a boon when it comes to microservices. Alibaba Cloud API Gateway provides simple and fast microservices integration. API gateway lets you share your functions and data with partners and other developers. With features like permission management, version control, and auto-scaling, it has become one of the best products to incorporate while making the shift to microservices.

8. Runtime Process Isolation — Running different processes for different operations and managing them to provide a smooth experience is the most essential part of using microservices. Here, you need to implement the execution in a way that utilizes the core concept introduced by the Elastic Compute Service (ECS.) With that, utilizing the technological overlay of ease provided by the Simple Application Server on Alibaba Cloud is another important aspect to consider.

Before I move ahead, Alibaba Cloud offers an exceptional course that introduces the microservices architecture. You can take a look at it here.

9. Selection of Correct Tools — When you are implementing microservices with DevOps using Alibaba Cloud, make sure you select the best tools available. Using the container service with Kubernetes enables a hassle-free shift or implementation for the user. Docker is also a tool that provides a decent outcome when paired with Alibaba Cloud Simple Application Server.

Conclusion

Microservice Architecture is all about making the system more efficient and reliable. Alibaba Cloud works very efficiently to provide you with curated tools that are supported internally and by the open-source community.

By implementing the Microservices environment, you get lightweight, independent, and scalable modules that make the whole process simpler. Domain-driven design is mostly responsible for specific service deployment, based on the customer’s needs. When coupled with products and services from Alibaba Cloud, this architecture helps you design and implement a system with maximum efficiency. DevOps capability is highly maximized using the Microservices architecture since Development and Operation both use a common toolset.

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The views expressed herein are for reference only and don’t necessarily represent the official views of Alibaba Cloud.

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