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The Future of Microservices

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There is a lot of hype around Microservices but we have seen the ideas before and have a rough idea of where things are going to end up, Greg Young stated talking about the future of Microservices in a presentation at the Microservices Conference in London.

Greg, who coined the term CQRS, started by claiming that counting the number of carriage returns inside a file as a metric is a very bad definition of Microservices, you might as well count the number of bytes.

Event sourcing is something Greg thinks we will see more of together with Microservices. Actor Model using Akka and Akka Persistence, which allows you to event source actors, is a model and a library that he finds fascinating. He emphasizes though that not all Microservices should be event sourced, and that there is no such thing as an event-sourced architecture, this is a decision made per service. He also notes that to get up to date with the latest in Microservices Erlang with its concurrency model is very interesting.

Another trend Greg sees coming is using Atom Feeds for integration. There is no service bus, just a set of streams with events going out over HTTP. Streams are great for integration between services, one advantage being their cacheability and the ability to serve a lot of subscribers due to this. In Greg’s experience when service buses are used, they are often solving problems that don’t exist and often used the wrong way.

Looking back to Web Services and when we first got into the specifications, they were very useful and did some really great things in terms of interoperability e.g. between vendors. Over time more and more things got added, handling more situations but there were valid reasons for all that was added, including a lot of standardization.

When talking about Microservices we have to remember that they are not new ideas even though they are still at the beginning of the adoption lifecycle, mainly used by innovators and early adopters which brings a lot of enthusiasm. When reaching the early and late majority Greg believes the problems will start to show up with tool vendors and toolkits trying to simplify and sometimes doing things that you really shouldn’t do. The future he sees is that we over the course of 3-5 years will end up rebuilding WS-* the same way Web Services did rebuild all from CORBA. It’s inevitable, we do this over and over again, and Greg claims it’s the fourth time this happens during his career.

The big question in terms of the future for Microservices that Greg sees is how we can learn from earlier mistakes and improve to prevent them being made again; otherwise the cycle will start all over yet another time.

The Microservices Conference is the first on the subject arranged by Skills Matter, in London. Next year’s conference is open for registration.

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