10 Challenges and Solutions for Microservices — Tips and Tricks

I am a cloud API developer and architect and currently working on Google’s GCP based microservices for a large retail client of USA.

Transitioning/implementing to microservices creates significant challenges for organizations. I have identified these challenges and solution based on my exposure to microservices in production.

I am writing this in June 2018. At this time, microservices architecture has not matured enough to completely address all the existing challenges, however, open source communities and IT product companies are trying to address all these open issues. All new research on this topics is based on finding solutions to the new challenges.

These are the ten major challenges of microservices architecture and proposed solutions:

1. Data Synchronization — We have event sourcing architecture to address this issue using the async messaging platform. The saga design pattern can address this challenge.

2. Security — An API Gateway can solve these challenges. Kong is very popular and is open-source, and is being used by many companies in production. Custom solutions can also be developed for API security using JWT token, Spring Security, and Netflix Zuul/ Zuul2. There are enterprise solutions available, too, like Apigee and Okta (2-step authentication). Openshift is used for public cloud security for its top features, like Red Hat Linux Kernel-based security and namespace-based app-to-app security.

3. Versioning — This will be taken care of by API registry and discovery APIs using the dynamic Swagger API, which can be updated dynamically and shared with consumers on the server.

4. Discovery — This will be addressed by API discovery tools like Kubernetes and OpenShift. It can also be done using Netflix Eureka at the code level. However, doing it in with the orchestration layer will be better and can be managed by these tools rather doing and maintaining it through code and configuration.

5. Data Staleness — The database should be always updated to give recent data. The API will fetch data from the recent and updated database. A timestamp entry can also be added with each record in the database to check and verify the recent data. Caching can be used and customized with an acceptable eviction policy based on business requirements.

6. Debugging and Logging — There are multiple solutions for this. Externalized logging can be used by pushing log messages to an async messaging platform like Kafka, Google PubSub, etc. A correlation ID can be provided by the client in the header to REST APIs to track the relevant logs across all the pods/Docker containers. Also, local debugging can be done individually on each microservice using the IDE or checking the logs.

7. Testing — This issue can be addressed with unit testing by mocking REST APIs or integrated/dependent APIs which are not available for testing using WireMock, BDD, Cucumber, integration testing, performance testing using JMeter, and any good profiling tool like Jprofiler, DynaTrace, YourToolKit, VisualVM, etc.

8. Monitoring — Monitoring can be done using open-source tools like Prometheus in combination with Grafana by creating gauge and matrices, Kubernetes/OpensShift, Influx DB, Apigee, combined with Grafana, and Graphite.

9. DevOps Support — Microservices deployment and support-related challenges can be addressed using state-of-the-art DevOps tools like GCP, Kubernetes, and OpenShift with Jenkins.

10. Fault Tolerance — Netflix Hystrix can be used to break the circuit if there is no response from the API for the given SLA/ETA.

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