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IoT Architecture: 3 Reasons Why Microservices Matter

In the software development world, microservices, also known as microservice architecture, are a rising star. And, there’s a good reason for this: They provide a lightweight, flexible and scalable approach to building and running applications. As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to gain a foothold, the manifold benefits of a microservice architecture are key for large-scale, complex IoT systems. In this blog, we explore microservices and why they are so important in an IoT architecture.

Microservices – A Best Practice for Agile Software Development

Microservices refers to a distributed architectural approach where a software application is made of a set of modular, loosely coupled and independently deployable components, or services. Each service has its own set of code; provides a unique function; and communicates with other services over open protocols and interfaces. By minimizing the interdependence among different components, each piece of code can be changed and updated separately without touching the others. This greatly accelerates software development time while making it easy to maintain, upgrade, and scale an application.

Well-designed microservices use industry-standard containers like Docker to encapsulate discrete services within individual containers. Containers deliver an extra degree of protection and agility by isolating individual software services from one another and from the host environment. Containerized microservices are infrastructure-agnostic, meaning they can be deployed and run uniformly in any computing environment – be it a computer, an on-premises server, or a cloud. Plus, different from virtual machines that require a dedicated operating system each, containers can share the host’s OS kernel instead of running one on their own. As such, they are exceptionally lightweight, which reduces the overall IT resource requirement and management overhead.

How IoT Adopters Can Benefit from Microservice-Based Solutions

Containerized microservices have been widely popular among software developers for some time, but their benefits are just as attractive to IoT project leaders and decision makers. The intricate and fast-evolving IoT architecture requires seamless interaction among heterogeneous devices, protocols and applications, as well as the ability to easily migrate from one computing environment to another. At the same time, continuous upgrade, integration, and maintenance are vital to ensure relevant, secure and up-to-par operations of IoT applications. Software and platform services that make use of a microservice architecture can help to do just that. Below are three benefits of microservice-based solutions for IoT adopters when building connected systems and applications.

MYTHINGS Central Microservices
An Example of the MYTHINGS Central Microservices

1. Flexible and Agile Deployment

Microservice-based software – whether for IoT network and device management or application enablement – provides maximum flexibility and control over deployments. As software services come loosely coupled, users can decide to employ only the functionality they need while deactivating the rest to save computing resources, reactivating any single services when the need emerges, is just as simple.

2. Resource-Efficiency and Portability

Containerized services are lightweight and can be scaled on a standalone basis depending on data workload, allowing for more efficient use of the computing resources. On top of that, services can be deployed on or off-premises, independently from each other, to better cater to organizational needs and optimize system operations. For example, services requiring significant computing resources can be moved to the cloud, while mission-critical services that demand faster response time can be deployed locally for enhanced security and reduced latency.

3. Resilient Operations and Easy Updates

Loose coupling and containerization practices further help to mitigate risk in running IoT applications. As services function separately from each other, the failure of a single service won’t disrupt the entire system, making its operation highly resilient and secure. Each service can also have its own release cycle for easy maintenance and fast updates without requiring a system shutdown. Likewise, new services can be swiftly introduced without the need to re-architect the whole system.

Microservices have helped to reinvent software development. Now, they are doing the same thing in the IoT space. The modular and loosely coupled nature of microservices brings lighter, and more distributable IoT software that is easier to migrate across different computing environments – from data centers and the cloud to more resource-constrained infrastructure like an edge gateway. Concurrently, they provide with highly resilient and scalable applications, allowing businesses to stay nimble as requirements continue to change.

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