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From mono to micro: Paving the way to IoT

Remember the days of monolith? Okay, so we’re not that far ahead, but at the rate most enterprises are deploying next-gen technologies, moving from monolithic to microservices architecture is more attractive than ever.

Microservices are regarded as one of the most critical ways for IT decision-makers to remain competitive — the panacea in the modernization of software architectures. In fact, a recent study (registration required) revealed that more than 70% of companies are planning a shift to microservices within the next 12 months. For those deploying IoT applications, microservices provide the flexibility necessary to capture, process and manage the massive volume of data — the nearly 40 trillion Gb of it that IoT is predicted to produce by 2020.

Why microservices for IoT?

It’s not surprising that microservices have been adopted with fervor. They can be quickly deployed across organizations via independent applications without having to uproot an entire monolithic system. This eliminates the need to stall a service update or pause deploying an app and allows organizations to innovate faster and find technologies that keeps them ahead of competition. Microservices are also a cost-effective option, enabling organizations to manage and maintain independent parts in their ecosystems over time, without having to replace an monolithic system all at once.

Achieving hyperscale

Monolithic architectures are made up of tightly integrated modules that ship infrequently and have to scale as a single unit. This is in direct opposition to IoT, which requires agility and ability to scale. Microservices and agile development go hand in hand.

Each microservice runs its own process and communicates via an HTTP API. This means it can be deployed, upgraded, scaled and restarted independent of other services in the application. When managed by an automated system, teams can update live applications as needed without running the risk of impacting users or others working within the same application.

Data processing

IoT has a massive deployment ecosystem containing applications, sensors, protocols and multiple servers. Each part of the ecosystem plays a critical role in capturing, moving or analyzing data.

Because microservices architectures take a decentralized management approach to data, more information from IoT sensors can be moved at a faster pace. A microservices deployment employing decentralized data management using REST API breaks down IoT services into distinct buckets. For example, one set of functions would collect sensors and controllers and make them visible in the form of data rather than devices. Yet another set of functions could fetch data from third-party systems like CRM or ERP. Each service has its own database, which means less stress on the overall landscape, plus the added bonus of increased security.

Integration, uninterrupted

According to Gartner, 50% of the cost of implementing IoT applications in 2018 will be spent on integration. That’s not just sensor integration and monitoring — it also includes microservices, API and hybrid integration.

As discussed above, IoT has a massive deployment ecosystem containing applications, sensors, protocols and multiple servers. Then there are all the endpoints — firmware, web, mobile, etc. — which all require deep integration between device, data and applications. On a monolithic architecture, the level of integration necessary to make all of these components work together would slow development and deployment time to a crawl. Because functionality is broken down into modular, independently deployable and loosely coupled services, microservices eases the integration burden by providing multiple paths on which to run the myriad services and protocols.

Need for speed

Developing applications, services and processes that support IoT requires teams to work at an unprecedented pace. Microservices enables teams to work independently of each other, significantly cutting down the time it takes to complete projects. What’s more, microservices allows greater flexibility in release schedules and processes, enabling you to pick up far more speed in order to meet the needs of your customers and the challenges of digitalization.

As with any other major transformation, the decision to modernize is not to be entered into lightly. Shifting away from an often times decades-old highly layered monolithic architecture comes with a set of challenges that is not for the faint of heart. Microservices can help every enterprise better manage and scale in a rapidly evolving environment. Using independent applications, organizations can work toward a common goal to better support IoT. From simple bug fixes and adding a single new field to an already-running application, or changing one particular component of a service, no longer should enterprises have to worry about suspending entire systems until updates are deployed.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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