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Frontastic explains: Microservices
In the fast-changing digital world, it’s hard to keep up with upcoming technologies, techniques, and software solutions. We don’t want marketers, agencies, or developers to lose track and want to provide the knowledge of our highly experienced team to everyone interested.
In our series “Frontastic explains”, our Technical Writer Catherine sums up the meaning and the impact of the biggest buzzwords of the digital world.
Today’s topic is Microservices.
A microservice is a type of architecture companies use to set up their systems. We have a look at the benefits of using microservices and present some use cases.
Traditionally companies would use a monolith architecture, which means using one system for everything. For example, a monolith commerce system mostly tries to manage it all: storefront, store backend but also product data, content, stock levels, logistics, finances, accounting, statistics, and much more.
Logically, a monolithic system can never be excellent at all of this at once. They can also be hard to update as technology advances, and as they’re adapted more and more to fit these new technologies, they become slow and only specialists can work with them. Monolithic systems are also sometimes called ‘suites’ or ‘best-of-suite’ solutions, so don’t get confused.
The disadvantages of monolithic systems are obvious in times of headless and API first:
Limited personalization options
Monolithic platforms are designed to provide ready-to-use solutions. Even minor changes to the system can have significant and unwanted impacts on the functionality of the whole system. This makes customizations complex and expensive.
The complexity of changing a monolith infrastructure makes it difficult for companies to adapt to new technologies quickly. Keeping up the pace and adapting to customer needs fast is the key to a successful modern commerce project.
Monolithic architectures come to a point where large traffic volumes aren’t handled well. Cloud migration isn’t an easy subject with a monolithic that leaves the operator with serious problems.
Microservice architectures: Scalable and flexible
Microservices differ because they’re made up of lots of relatively small applications that work together to give the overall functionality of a system. Each microservice has exactly one well-defined functionality. So they can cut a big problem down into many small manageable ones with each being handled relatively independently. So your content is managed by one application, your stock levels by another, and so on.
Using microservices can also speed up your development. It also makes it a lot easier to adapt if your requirements change as you can simply focus on the microservice it affects.
Here are the main advantages of microservices:
New channels and features are added quickly and efficiently
Decoupling software functions from each other makes it much easier to change one function without risking unwanted effects on the entire system
Microservices have a small complexity and can be developed in a short amount of time
Speed up development
Trouble-free continuous development and deployment are possible. Also, development teams can work on different projects at the same time since only a few decisions have to be made across the teams (for example, standardized integration)
Operational costs are often lower when maintaining a microservice architecture
Headless and microservices enable digital retailers to add new channels and features quickly and efficiently. They also enable businesses to scale existing facilities to meet demand without the heavy workload associated with upgrading backend systems, while allowing them to choose different technology. Looking at these advantages, it is more than understandable that the trend in digital commerce is moving in this direction.
CHRONEXT Customer Story: How microservices speed up projects
When the platform for luxury watches, CHRONEXT, launched in 2015, it was structured in the same way as all online stores were structured at that time. As a monolith, the store had a frontend, a very reduced CMS, backend interfaces to Business Intelligence, ERP, supply chain, PIM, and sales as well as functions for store controlling.
CHRONEXT introduced a microservices layer on top of its monolith in 2018. It made integrations with other systems easier but only partially alleviated other problems. In 2019, CHRONEXT decided to redesign the entire store. The goals were clear: refresh the design, improve conversion, and, most importantly, the platform should be easier to change and operate for all CHRONEXT teams.
CHRONEXT came up with a plan to move from its monolith architecture to a fully microservices one but be able to run both versions at the same time. It meant that the new world would connect to the services in the same way as the monolith, which allowed CHRONEXT to phase the rollout of its different stores. The new shop had to do exactly what the old shop could do, plus a refreshed mobile first design, custom made checkout, more payment options, and so much more.
In August 2020, CHRONEXT switched off the old monolith system and hasn’t looked back.
PRYM Customer Story: From catalogue to omnichannel
After starting the first online shop with a best-of-suite solution, the household goods manufacturer Prym soon felt that the chosen solution wasn’t able to fully support their ambitious future plans.
Since the online presence of Prym is extremely content-heavy, one of the most important factors in choosing a technical solution was having the ability to change the website structure and the content as easily as possible. Prym quickly chose a suitable system while Frontastic completed the set-up as a frontend solution. The project started in February 2019 with a team of 15 employees working to implement the ambitious plans. In November 2019, the project was completed and prym.de relaunched.
Catherine’s the Technical Writer at Frontastic. She’s worked in many different positions at different levels but always with a customer focus and is always looking to create the best experience for users.
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