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GCN : June 2015
GCN JUNE 2015 • GCN.COM 15 5 steps to building a microservices foundation BY JIM TYRRELL INDUSTRY INSIGHT MICROSERVICES — small pieces of software that do one thing and do it well — areahottopicinthe context of software delivery and development, espe- cially among government IT professionals. That’s because microser- vices can be a godsend for agencies seeking greater agility and accelerated service delivery. Microservice architec- ture describes “a particular way of designing software applications as suites of independently deployable services,” according to Mar- tin Fowler, who has written a thorough introduction on the subject. Microservices are typical- ly organized around “busi- ness capability, automated deployment, intelligence in the endpoints and decen- tralized control of languag- es and data.” Consider, for example, a government website that has different sections fed by separate application programming interfaces. Each API can be managed through a microservice, which can make it much easier to control content and security for that site. Getting there, however, requires government IT administrators to re- examine their traditional enterprise architectures. Existing platforms are gen- erally built on traditional IT approaches that empha- size scalability, efficiency, safety and accuracy. Those traditional platforms are important because they run day-to-day operations and provide IT services across an agency. However, they can be saddled with techni- cal debt. Standardizing on eco- systems and platforms that free up resources and correct failed workloads can serve as the foundation for microservices. Here are a few ways government IT administrators can build that foundation: 1. Set up and empower small, agile groups. Then encourage the groups to experiment; they should fail fast so they can succeed sooner. Quick failures result in better understanding and problem solving, which can lead to great things. Teams should be encouraged to try things, see how they work and then pivot as required with the newfound knowledge. 2. Think about continu- ous integration. It is partly derived from and imple- mented with ideas from agile methodologies — such as test-driven develop- ment, which requires that test cases for the eventually delivered functionality be created before any applica- tion code is written. That approach allows agencies to build automation that can run all test cases against code commits or updates, which empowers develop- ers to experiment. 3. Then try continuous deployment. Once the codebase’s health has been determined, agency IT pro- fessionals can start thinking about continuous deploy- ment, which also eliminates the cost of change because code delivery is automated. Even just one code push a day can drastically increase agility. 4. Consider platform as a service. PaaS provides con- sistent runtimes and devel- oper self-service for quickly provisioning instances for use. With PaaS, developer environments no longer require a month-long fulfill- ment. Tools such as Jenkins provide for automation, continuous integration and deployment, while monitor- ing tools give IT managers global insight into their operational environments and let them identify trends or issues before they result in outages. 5. Introduce some chaos into the environment. System failures are bad, but they can help organizations become more resilient. Therefore, IT professionals might want to introduce some chaos into their environments via tools such as Netflix’s Chaos Monkey and its derivative projects. Those tools help detect and rectify potential failures and can greatly increase system reliability. The foundation for microservices is built on going small and agile and supporting that effort with technologies that allow or- ganizations to react quickly and roll out new services continually. It’s the perfect environ- ment for today’s govern- ment agencies. • — Jim Tyrrell is a principal JBoss solutions architect in Red Hat’s Public Sector practice. Microservices can be a godsend for agencies seeking greater agility and accelerated service delivery. 0615gcn_015.indd 15 6/4/15 12:26 PM