Maximizing Scalability in Your Application with Microservices Architecture

by on April 4, 2023
Maximizing Scalability with Microservices Architecture

In the hyper-competitive application marketplace, scalability is a critical requirement for modern apps to handle increasing user demands. Applications that struggle to scale may result in poor user experience, downtime, and ultimately, diminished trust from clients. To meet these demands, developers need to focus their attention on building scalable systems, and microservices architecture can be a game-changer.

Microservices architecture is a novel development architecture that provides well-defined boundaries for autonomous services, granular deployability, scaling, and maintainability.

Although microservices architecture brings benefits like improved modularity, scalability, and flexibility, it comes with unique challenges. Some challenges faced while developing with microservices architecture include the complexity of design and implementation, the management of multiple services, data consistency across services, dependency management, testing, and increased security risks. 

To mitigate these challenges, developers can use a set of best practices, including maintaining well-defined service boundaries, embracing continuous integration and delivery, using containers to isolate dependencies, utilizing a microservice registry/discovery system, and ensuring that the system’s components are modularized with a standardized approach.

By adopting these best practices, developers can ensure that the benefits of microservices, such as scalability, fault isolation, easier deployment, distributed design, and independent services, are fully leveraged to create a robust, performance-driven system that can handle increased demands without experiencing downtime or lag times.

In this article, we’ll walk you through all the strengths and weaknesses of microservices architecture. Then, we’ll cover the best practices for how to implement it in your application. Finally, we’ll explain how this architecture can greatly improve your app’s ability to scale.

Table of Contents

What is Microservices Architecture?

Microservices architecture is a software design pattern that involves breaking down an application into smaller, independent services. Each microservice is designed to perform a specific business function and is managed by a separate team.

Microservices can be deployed independently of each other, allowing developers to make changes and updates to specific features without affecting the rest of the application.

Some notable benefits of using microservices architecture in developing modern applications are:

  • Improved system scalability and flexibility
  • Faster development and deployment times
  • Better fault isolation and reduced downtime
  • Improved maintainability of the application

Some well-known applications that have adopted microservices architecture include Netflix and Amazon.

Implementing Microservices Architecture

While adopting a microservices architecture can have significant benefits, it is essential to follow best practices to ensure the success of the microservices architecture system. The following are essential strategies to design scalable systems using microservices architectural style:

1. Identify the boundaries of your services

To effectively develop and implement a microservices architecture, it is essential to identify the boundaries of your services.

The process of identifying service boundaries involves breaking down the monolithic application into business features or capability components. Each feature represents an individual and independent service, which comprises a portion of a particular business function.

Identifying the boundaries of your services involves specifying the exact function of each microservice and defining its scope. It helps to organize the microservices according to business functions, data models, business rules, and data structures.

The boundaries help in isolating the functions of the microservices and allow developers to make changes and updates within one service without affecting the rest of the application. Services should only interact with each other through clearly-defined APIs, which take the form of contracts that specify the input and output messages of the services.

Service boundaries modeling provides developers with transparency and insight into how complex an application may be. As such, they can quickly establish a service contract and tweak the APIs, thereby ensuring the overall system is running efficiently.

There are several things to consider when identifying the boundaries of your services. These include:

  1. The service scope: The microservice should perform a specific, well-defined function. It should only contain functionality relevant to its intended business purpose.
  2. The size of the microservice: This refers to the amount of code, file size, and processing power required for the microservice to function optimally.
  3. The interdependence of the microservice: The microservices should function independently of each other. There must be no dependency between microservices and maintain their independence.
  4. The impact of data: The microservices should focus on identifiable data and have an understanding of the data standards required for their assigned task.
  5. The service relationship: Identify the relationship between each microservice, its responsibilities, and its interfaces with others.

In summary, identifying the boundaries of your services will ensure each microservice is well-defined, distinct and well-aligned with the business needs of your application. This will help in fine-tuning the system’s functionality and optimize the database schema, resulting in more streamlined processes, streamlined system performance, and easier maintenance of the whole system.

2. Build microservices with continuous deployment in mind

Building microservices with continuous deployment in mind is critical to develop a successful microservices architecture. The continuous deployment approach ensures that small and frequent changes can be made to the application, without risking breaking the entire system.

Continuous deployment means that every change made to the microservices is automatically built, tested, and deployed to the production server without human intervention. This enables teams to deliver new software features, updates, and changes with faster turnaround times, avoiding the cumbersome process of manual deployment, which may take days or weeks in some cases.

Here are some best practices for building microservices for continuous deployment:

  1. Ensure Service Composability: To deploy new changes rapidly, microservices should be built as modular and independently-deployable components. The microservices should be designed in a way that allows other microservices to utilize their existing functionality through APIs.
  2. Establish Automated Testing and Deployment: Automated testing and deployment reduce the probability of error and ensure that the microservices will run as intended in the production environment. This approach includes unit testing, integration testing, and end-to-end testing.
  3. Use Continuous Integration and deployment tools: Automated build, testing, and deployment tools facilitate the creation of an effective development pipeline such as CircleCI, Jenkins, and TravisCI.
  4. Implement Blue-Green Deployment: Blue-green deployment is an approach that involves deploying new code to a “blue” environment while keeping the current “green” environment functional. This approach facilitates testing and ensures that the new changes’ impact is minimal.
  5. Develop Monitoring and Logging Capabilities: To detect and diagnose issues, it’s essential to build comprehensive monitoring and logging capabilities into microservices. This approach enables developers to identify deployment-related errors and inefficiencies quickly.

In summary, building microservices with continuous deployment in mind will ensure seamless implementation of new features, efficient development times and decrease downtime, operational costs, ensuring a higher-quality user experience. Utilizing these best practices safeguards the microservices system’s reliability and ensures that the development team can fully leverage the microservices benefits.

3. Ensure each microservice has access to its database

When implementing a microservices architecture system, it is essential to ensure that each microservice has access to its database.

This approach avoids storing data in a single location, which can lead to data inconsistencies, and prevents the entire application from failing in the event of a database failure.

Each microservice should have its data source, either as part of the microservice itself or as a service accessed through APIs. This approach is sometimes referred to as a “database per service” architecture, where each microservice has its database.

Having separate databases for each service makes it possible to both deploy services and scale each service independently because the database scales with it. It is a way to ensure the independence of the service and optimize its performance.

This structure also facilitates the independence of the development teams working on each microservice database. Each team is responsible for maintaining and developing its database without interfering with other teams that are responsible for other microservices.

In summary, implementing a “database per service” microservices architecture focuses on and ensures data consistency, improves performance, facilitates independent development teams, and makes scaling easier. This technique is one of the critical best practices to ensure your microservices architecture maximizes scalability.

4. Maintain efficient communication

Maintaining efficient communication is a critical best practice in developing microservices architecture systems. Communication between microservices is essential for them to function effectively as distinct, standalone services that interact to deliver value.

Maintaining efficient communication in microservices consists of two essential parts:

  1. Service-to-service communication: This involves communication between different microservices. According to the microservices architecture, each service is independently deployable, communicable, and interoperable without dependencies from other services. This form of communication is typically achieved through APIs and Service Oriented Architecture principles.
  2. Communication within the service: This is the internal communication between various components within a given microservice, which is as important as services communicating with each other. Efficient communication within the service is needed to ensure there is a flow of information within the service and the service can respond to inputs from the user.

Here are some best practices to maintain efficient communication in microservices:

  1. Use API Gateway: An API gateway serves as a single entry point for all client requests to microservices. The gateway handles requests from the client and forwards them to the intended microservices.
  2. Asynchronous Communication: Asynchronous communication is useful in microservices architectures because microservices perform tasks independently of how services communicate with each other. It’s recommended to use messaging protocols such as MQTT or Apache Kafka to implement asynchronous communication.
  3. Implement Circuit Breaker Pattern: The circuit breaker pattern helps in managing errors that may occur when the service is down. It is essential to implement the circuit breaker pattern to maintain efficient communication between microservices and avoid cascading failures.
  4. Adopt Event-Driven Architecture (EDA): EDA facilitates communication between microservices by forming a reliable and high-performance system that passes events between services. Event-driven architectures use events or messages to notify services of changes or triggers and allow them to respond accordingly.
  5. Implement Service Discovery: Service discovery mechanisms are used to keep track of services that are active and available. This approach helps to manage the details of the individual services that are needed to communicate with each other.

In conclusion, implementing and continually improving communication mechanisms is crucial when developing microservices architecture systems. This approach ensures that microservices effectively communicate with each other, resulting in a stable, resilient, and scalable system. Maintaining constant communication between microservices is key to having successful microservices architecture.

5. Use containerization

Containerization is a critical best practice when developing a microservices architecture. Containerization creates and isolates an environment in which multiple applications can run on a host at the same time, with each application able to manage its resources and dependencies.

Containerization typically involves creating lightweight and portable runtime environments called containers. Containers are used to package the entire software stack and application code, making it easy to manage and run applications in different environments without the need for virtual machines.

Using containerization in microservices architecture provides several benefits, including:

  1. Isolation: Containers isolate the application from its environment, ensuring that each microservice runs independently of each other.
  2. Consistent Environments: The consistent environment provided by containers ensures microservices work the same way in different environments- prevents the “works on my machine” problem.
  3. Resource Efficiency: Containers eliminate the need for virtual machines, which can lead to improved resource utilization and lower costs on the host resource.
  4. Easy Deployment: Since containers are easy to move between environments, they make deployment more manageable and faster, reducing downtime and increasing work efficiency.
  5. Scaling: Containers can scale horizontally, meaning multiple containers can be created on an as-needed basis, increasing the speed of deployment and enhancing the system’s ability to manage high workloads
  6. Security: The environment segmentation provided by containers enhances microservices’ security, making it harder for attackers to compromise the system through vulnerabilities at the container’s entry point.

Here are some recommended practices to use containerization in microservices architecture development:

  1. Use Docker or Kubernetes: Docker is a popular open-source containerization platform that provides an easy-to-use interface for creating and managing containers. Kubernetes, on the other hand, facilitates automation, scaling, and management of containerized applications across multiple host environments.
  2. Design Microservices with Portability in Mind: Design each microservice to be containerized independently, making it portable and easily deployed to different environments.
  3. Keep Container Sizes to a Minimum: Keep the container size as small as possible to reduce resource usage and enhance the speed of spin-up.
  4. Automate Container Management: Use container orchestration tools to automate container management operations such as creation, scaling, deployment, and uptime.

Using containerization in microservices architecture builds a more flexible, scalable, efficient, and secure system. Appropriate use of containers enables users to quickly, easily, and cost-effectively move and run applications or microservices in different environments without dependency issues.

Challenges Involved in Developing with a Microservices Architecture

While microservices architecture is beneficial, it comes with its unique challenges that developers must address if they’re to make the most of the architecture. Here are some challenges that come with developing microservices architecture:

  1. Complexity of Design and Implementation: Microservices architecture designs and implementations are usually complicated, as it requires advanced technical knowledge in microservices to design, deploy, and manage it effectively.
  2. Management of Multiple Services: Managing multiple microservices requires a much higher level of technical expertise and increases the overall complexity of the system.
  3. Data Consistency: Because each microservice communicates independently of the others, the data consistency can pose an issue in maintaining a coherent and uniform data model across different services.
  4. Dependency Management: Although microservices achieve modularity, there is still the issue of services depending on each other impacting service interdependency and co-dependency.
  5. Increased Network Complexity: Microservices depend on multiple network requests to function effectively which can cause latency and increased network complexity.
  6. Testing: Testing within a microservices architecture presents a significant challenge and can demand more upfront testing, documentation with automated testing suites, and techniques like contract testing.
  7. Increased Security Risks: With microservices architecture, security can become harder to manage as it increases the overall system complexity, providing more entry points for malicious actors to exploit.

To address these challenges, developers should consider implementing a set of best practices that include:

  1. Well-defined Service Boundaries: Developers should ensure that each microservice has independently deployed services with well-defined functionality limits and scope, increasing independence and decreasing service dependencies.
  2. Embrace Continuous Integration and Delivery: Developers should utilize detailed, automated testing suites and integrate the services in CI/CD pipelines to ensure consistent codebase and maintain data consistency.
  3. Use Containers: Utilize containers to isolate a given dependency while preserving the system’s overall independence, portability, and enhance performance.
  4. Microservice Registry and Discovery: To manage a large number of services, it is recommended to have a registry for storing their metadata and implementing service discovery to coordinate their interaction, ensuring that everyone is updated and available.
  5. Modularization with a Standardized Approach: Developers should take a modularized approach with standardization to rationalize the system’s components, decreasing issues from untested and brittle integration components.

While the increased complexity of microservices can create more opportunities for issues, implementing best practices can mitigate these issues and ensure that the benefit of modularity and scalability of microservices architectures would be fully leveraged.

How Microservices Architecture Boosts Scalability

Microservices Architecture is well-known, especially for its ability to provide better scalability for large and complex systems. While traditional, monolithic architectures can struggle with scaling out, microservices architecture is optimally suited for it. In this section, we explain how microservice architecture boosts scalability.

1. Independent Services

Microservices architecture breaks a large, monolithic application into smaller, independent services, which can be individually deployed, scaled, maintained, and updated. This allows the system to scale out horizontally so that new resources can be brought online whenever the system experiences an increase in demand.

By breaking down the large, monolithic applications into smaller, independent services, the architecture can handle more requests across a given system at any given time with each service responding to a specific request from an application.

2. Isolation

Microservices’ granular nature isolates each service, allowing a more straightforward approach to allocating resources. A specific service that requires more resources to handle an increase in demand can be selectively scaled up, while keeping other services at their current level, thereby preventing underutilization of resource or service lag time.

3. Distributed by design

Microservices are inherently designed to work across distributed networks. With services communicating through APIs, it’s easier to isolate code that is sensitive to spikes in demand and allocate resources more efficiently as traffic grows or shrinks. Communication between microservices makes it easier to enhance message partitioning to distribute the workload among the services.

4. Continuous Deployment

In microservices architecture, each microservice can be deployed independently of others via DevOps practice, allowing for Cloud deployment for automated scaling of resources. New microservices can be introduced without having to shut down the entire system, reducing downtimes and improving overall system availability.

5. Fault Isolation

Service isolation enhances the decoupling of services. Instead of a single service point of failure, the system operates as a collection of different services. If one service fails, the others can continue to operate, ensuring high availability and overall stability.

In conclusion, Microservices Architecture provides better scalability than traditional monolithic architectures by facilitating horizontal scaling, fine-grained resource allocation, and fault isolation.

The ability of the architecture to scale quickly in response to demand changes helps increase data processing and requests handling while also minimizing system downtimes. The granularity of microservices, along with decoupling through API communication, provides more efficient resource and dependency management, providing a robust and performance-driven system.

Backendless and Microservices

Backendless has adopted microservices architecture to maximize scalability in developing modern applications. Our low-code visual app development platform offers dozens of services that developers can combine to create a scalable, functional system. Our platform offers an integrated development environment that simplifies the development and deployment process to deliver applications.

With tools like our Transactions API, it is possible to build using a microservices strategy while ensuring that your database maintains data integrity. Transactions API calls isolate data being targeted by complex functions that call multiple APIs and perform calculations. The changes to the database are not committed until the full transaction is completed successfully. Thus, if one portion of the transaction fails, all changes are rolled back to ensure the data is not impacted by incomplete functions.

Backendless supports a Microservice approach that has allowed developers to build distributed systems that perform specific business functions, ensuring scalability and a faster deployment cycle.


To sum up, microservices architecture is a development architecture that has gained popularity due to its benefits, such as modularity, scalability, and flexibility. It helps in tackling the limitations of monolithic architecture by providing well-defined boundaries for autonomous services, independently deployable services, scaling, and maintainability, making it easier to manage complex systems.

However, at the same time, it comes with specific challenges such as increased complexity, data inconsistency, testing, and more prominent security risks. By implementing best practices that comprise maintenance of well-defined boundaries, continuous integration and delivery and modularization, problems associated with microservices architecture, such as decreased dependency management, decentralized data management, testing rigors and security threats, can be effectively reduced.

Once best practices are in place, it helps organizations to provide robust, performance-driven systems capable of handling increased loads elegantly. The increased scalability in the system also enhances fault isolation, easier deployment, and distributed design. As a result, microservices architecture will continue to flourish as an industry-standard approach in today’s complex software development landscape.

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