Optimizing Application Performance Using Microservices and Containers

Microservices and containers can help you to build and deploy applications faster. But do these technologies actually make your applications run faster? That depends on how you leverage them.

One of the most powerful arguments in favor of adopting microservices architectures for your applications—and using containers to deploy the applications—is that this approach leads to faster innovation by improving software delivery speed.

When your application is developed as a series of discrete microservices, your team can work more efficiently. The application can also be deployed faster because each piece can be rolled out separately, and a problem with one microservice won’t delay the whole operation.

On top of all of this, containers help to automate application release. They provide a consistent environment for development, testing and deployment, thereby making the software delivery pipeline flow faster.

Microservices Application Performance

It’s hard to argue that microservices don’t improve application delivery speed in most cases.

However, application delivery speed is not the same thing as application performance. Software that is produced quickly does not necessarily run quickly or perform well.

To ensure that a containerized microservices application operates efficiently, software delivery teams should focus on the following goals:

  • Architecture optimization. To make a microservices app run efficiently, you need to architect it in the right way. If you have too many microservices, poorly designed APIs, excessive networking overhead and so on, your microservices will not communicate efficiently. So, before you start breaking your app down haphazardly into microservices, think hard about exactly how the architecture should be organized.
  • Code efficiency. In theory, microservices should make it easier for your developers to write more efficient code. When your code is broken down into small pieces, it’s easy to spot redundancies and unnecessary functionality. However, the identification of these inefficiencies doesn’t happen on its own. Microservices just make the process easier, but you still need to work actively to keep your code efficient.
  • Leverage different programming languages. One advantage of microservices that can be easy to overlook is their ability to facilitate an application written in multiple languages. Leverage this feature if it helps improve application performance. One type of microservice may run faster if coded in one language, while another works better with a different language.
  • Deploy containers wisely. A containerized microservice application doesn’t magically run faster than a non-containerized application. However, containers can help to improve application performance because they use system resources more efficiently. There are additional steps that you can take to improve container performance. You should follow these steps in order to get the most performance out of a microservices application that you deploy using containers.
  • Monitor effectively. Monitoring a microservices application is a different beast from traditional application monitoring. To monitor effectively, you should monitor each microservice individually, while also understanding how dependencies between microservices impact overall application performance. You should do the same thing for the container instances in which your microservices are deployed. Effective monitoring is essential for discovering and getting to the bottom of application performance issues.

Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has covered technology and business news for nearly a decade, specializing in open source, containers, big data, networking and security. He is currently Senior Editor and DevOps Analyst with Fixate.io and Sweetcode.io.

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