Microservices help to make application delivery more agile and nimble. Solid-state disk (SSD) technology makes applications faster. This you already know.
But have you thought about how you can leverage microservices and SSD together to double down on speed and agility benefits? If not, this article is for you. It explains how to pair a microservices architecture with SSD storage to optimize application performance, specifically for cloud-based deployments.
The Basics: Microservices and SSD
Microservices are an approach to application architecture that involves breaking complex applications into multiple discrete parts, or services.
In a microservices architecture, your application’s storage process might run as one service, while the frontend runs as another — or possibly even multiple services, each covering a specific frontend component. Authentication, security, logging and so on can also be performed by distinct services.
The main advantage of microservices is that they provide more modularity and flexibility for your application as a whole. You can deploy each service in a different location in order to optimize cost and performance on a per-service basis. You can also update a service without having to disrupt other parts of the app. You can generally track performance or security issues more easily because you can isolate a problem to a particular service, rather than having to slog through your entire application to locate a root cause. These (and more) are the benefits of microservices.
SSD, meanwhile, refers to a special type of hard disk in which data is stored using flash memory. This makes SSD different from conventional hard disks, which rely on magnetic storage.
The main advantage of SSD is speed. While SSD data transfer rates vary depending on which specific SSD devices you use and how your software accesses them, you can generally expect I/O rates to be about 20 times faster with SSD than they are on traditional hard disks, while overall data transfer rates are between 8 and 16 times faster.
SSD has been a popular solution for about a decade for personal computers, where SSD devices offer the additional advantage of being more resistant to physical damage. However, SSD is also an increasingly popular storage option for cloud-based applications, for reasons that we discuss below.
Marrying Microservices and SSD in the Cloud
Microservices and SSD each offer distinct advantages on their own.
When you use microservices and SSD together in the cloud, however, you multiply the benefits of each.
The main reason is that a microservices architecture allows you to choose specific components of an application to run with SSD storage. Rather than having to deploy the entire application on SSD (as you would if you did not have a microservices architecture), you can take advantage of SSD for the specific services that will benefit from it the most. The rest can run with standard storage, or no storage at all, depending on their needs.
This approach allows you to leverage the performance of SSD in a cost-efficient way because you are not paying for SSD storage for your entire application, you are only paying for the services that need it.
The microservices that handle the storage for your application are often the most obvious candidates for an SSD hosting solution, particularly if your application will benefit significantly from faster throughput. For example, this could be the case for a web server with a heavy traffic load that needs to avoid bottlenecking at the storage level.
In other cases, you may not want to run your main storage service on SSD, but still take advantage of SSD for other specific parts of the application. For instance, you might host the microservice and database that handle authentication on an SSD-enabled cloud instance. This approach would improve the speed of logins for your users.
As a third example, your application might include a caching microservice. One way to enable fast access for this data is to store it in memory. But in some cases, such as those where you need to cache a large amount of data, it could be more cost-effective or scalable to use SSD storage for the caching instead. SSD is not as fast as in-memory data storage, of course, but for caching application or user data, it is likely sufficient.
Microservices provide the deployment flexibility that allows you to take full advantage of the performance boost that SSD storage can offer, without having to pay for SSD capacity that you don’t need. For cloud-based apps, microservices and SSD are a match made in heaven.
To learn more about the SSD storage options available on Alibaba Cloud and how to use them, visit the SSD cloud disks FAQ page here.
Chris Tozzi has worked as a journalist and Linux systems administrator. He has particular interests in open source, agile infrastructure and networking. He is Senior Editor of content and a DevOps Analyst at Fixate IO. His latest book, For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution, was published in 2017.