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The Future of Microservices and Distributed Systems: QCon London Microservices Panel Discussion

| by Jan Stenberg Follow 34 Followers on Mar 11, 2018. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes | NOTICE: The next QCon is in San Francisco Nov 5 - 9, 2018. Save an extra $100 with INFOQSF18!

In the microservices panel at QCon London 2018, participants discussed how service technology as we see it today will change, and how we will build systems in the future. The microservices track host Sam Newman asked if microservices will fade away and become an implementation detail, and the panel — consisting of Susanne Kaiser, Guy Podjarny, Idit Levine and Mark Burgess — believe that microservices will continue to exist, but will evolve into becoming a base for other techniques like serverless architectures when building distributed systems.

  • Kaiser, ex-CTO at Just Software, believes microservices will be the basis for more distributed architectures in the future, with serverless being one example, and will be a good foundation when building distributed systems.
  • Podjarny, co-founder at Snyk.io, believes microservices will be embedded in the way we build software, but that will also include operational concepts.
  • Levine, founder and CEO of solo.io, noted that when we build systems we later on always extend them and microservice architectures is the key to be able to do that.
  • Burgess, principal Founder of CFEngine, claimed that microservices is just too hard for ordinary people to do. He believes that service mesh technology is a start to something that eventually will become some sort of a "mega compiler" that will take away the necessity of dealing with all the smaller services and functions that we work with today.

Newman, author of Building Microservices, then asked if the serverless technology will change how we build systems in the future — is it the next evolutionary step?

  • Levine noted that the purpose of a function is to glue services together. For her, serverless is an interesting ecosystem, but she is not sure how it will evolve.
  • For Kaiser, serverless takes care of a lot of commodities, but right now it will easily lead to a vendor lock in. With more varieties coming that will abstract away the vendors, it will then be a more interesting path to follow.
  • Burgess sees this as an evolution to a platform but looks at it more as function as a service (FaaS). He noted that we still have very primitive interfaces where we manually couple things together. In the future, he believes it will be much more user-friendly and compiler-like, and more integrated than today.
  • For Podjarny, FaaS aspires to be a backend, or software as a service (SaaS), and within that we also consume third-party services, so we write less of the code ourselves. But he doesn’t think serverless is the end of the road; in the next steps we will be creating diagrams describing how functions are connected in an application.

When asked if the characteristics of a microservice have changed during the seven years since the term was coined, the panel agreed that domain-driven design (DDD) is still an important concept. Kaiser noted that microservices has forced them even more towards DDD, for instance when finding candidates for a microservice. She also noted that all the software architecture principles are still applicable, with DDD having a huge impact.

Regarding vendor lock-in when starting a new development initiative at a company, the panel agreed that they would try to avoid it. Kaiser would definitely go for a cloud-native approach — allowing you to focus on your core business. Burgess noted that the standardization of the industry is still immature, but thinks this will change in the coming years.

If starting a next venture or product, Kaiser would probably start with microservices if the organization has the capability, otherwise she would start with a monolith. Levine warned about creating technical debt and would start with microservices, which she feels very comfortable with. Podjarny’s experience is that microservices is more of a pain from the beginning, but you are also setup for the future.

Most presentations at the conference were recorded and will be available on InfoQ over the coming months. The next QCon conference, QCon.ai, will focus on AI and machine learning and is scheduled for April 9 – 11, 2018, in San Francisco. QCon London 2019 is scheduled for March 4 - 8, 2019.

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