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IT Innovators: Are Microservices Enabling the Hybrid Cloud?

Would microservices be considered an enabler of the hybrid cloud or is the hybrid cloud an enabler of microservices? It’s an interesting question and one whose answer depends, in part, on who you ask.

On one hand, there are those who would argue that microservices, like containers, tend to enable the cloud by offering a clear strategic improvement. After all, the key benefit of the cloud is business agility and that’s what microservices deliver. A recent CeBIT panel of industry experts agreed in a discussion on how the microservices trend is one of the latest to help pave the way for hybrid IT deployments.

Microservices, as defined by software development evangelist Martin Fowler, is an architectural style whereby a single application is developed as a “suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API. These services are built around business capabilities and are independently deployable by fully automated deployment machinery.”

In other words, Microservices make applications much more agile, resilient and scalable. They do that by essentially breaking problems (i.e., big applications) into smaller, more manageable ones that are self-contained for fit and purpose. These applications are modular and in turn, portable, which plays nicely in a hybrid environment. They also can be much more easily built and modified. Just as critically though, by improving the value proposition for the cloud, microservices add more fuel to the fire for why an organization might want to transition to using it as part of their IT infrastructure.

One the other side of the coin, there are those who view the cloud as an enabler to implementing microservices. Once such person, George Lawton, argued just that in his article, Using the cloud to enable microservices. As he points out, “A challenge of implementing microservices has been the need to have infrastructure for dynamically spinning up and interconnecting these services. The dynamic nature of cloud platforms is a key enabler in the shift to a microservices strategy.”

Chris Haddad, former Gartner analyst, adds that “without a cloud platform and cloud frameworks, the organization ends up with a fairly static environment.” The cloud is very dynamic in nature. Consequently, having a cloud infrastructure in place means that the IT team can turn multiple instances on and off, while at the same time allowing the application to keep running. This is true even when the application becomes overloaded or something breaks. If that cloud infrastructure happens to be a hybrid cloud, that’s all the better, since it marries the security and control of a private cloud with the speed and scalability of a public one.

At the end of the day, whether microservices are enabling the cloud or vice versa is a bit like the chicken and egg paradox. And maybe the causality isn’t really what’s important here. What is important is that together, microservices and the hybrid cloud are technologies that can and are having a transformative effect on IT.

By breaking software into smaller, functional pieces, a microservice can fail without bringing down an entire application. That makes applications highly available, easier and faster to build and easier to maintain. For its part, the hybrid cloud strategy is used to drive business innovation, improve competiveness, enable greater agility, open up new revenue streams, lower risk, and increase cost savings. Together, microsystems and the hybrid cloud enable organizations, especially smaller ones, to innovate faster and rapidly solve business problems with less risk. They also bring substantial productivity improvements. Who wouldn’t want that?

If you have any thoughts on microservices that you’d like to share, drop me a line at [email protected]. In the meantime, check back here for future blogs on a range of IT-related issues.

This blog is sponsored by Microsoft.

Cheryl J. Ajluni is a freelance writer and editor based in California. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Wireless Systems Design and served as the EDA/Advanced Technology editor for Electronic Design for over 10 years. She is also a published book author and patented engineer. Her work regularly appears in print and online publications. Contact her at [email protected] with your comments or story ideas.



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