Microservices & API are hot topics that have been buzzing around the industry for a while now. They have revolutionized the way enterprises build their IT infrastructure, helping to minimize turnaround time and maximize the reliability of backend systems. They have transformed many web-native businesses, especially in e-commerce. Let’s take a closer look at their roles and how they are related.
What is an Application Program Interface (API)?
An API is a particular set of rules and specifications that software programs can follow to communicate with each other. It serves as an interface between different software programs and facilitates their interaction.
Let’s understand how it works: ever notice that when you hit any e-commerce site, it asks you to sign up through Facebook or Google? How are they able to proceed without any extra code being written? The answer is API, which simplifies the work. Here, API facilitates the interaction between the application and the device, acting as an interface. When a sign-up is requested, API pulls the data from the backend of Google or Facebook’s server, processes it, and pushes the relevant information to your browser.
What are Microservices?
To recognize the benefits of microservices, you must understand monolithic applications. A monolithic application is built as one single silo unit. In a monolithic application, server-side data is bundled together, with all data handling requests running in a single process.
A microservice is an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of loosely tethered, modular services. They are built around business capabilities and are independently deployable by fully automated deployment machinery. Let’s look at how microservices can address issues with a monolithic architecture.
Again, coming to our eCommerce example, suppose you picked out your favorite Nike shoe and are all set to hit the checkout button. Suddenly an error occurs with your delivery address, so you are unable to place the order.
The reason for the error is a lack of agility on the backend due to a monolithic application. Since components work in silos with a centralized architecture, all pieces are tightly coupled and depend on each other. If a single code changes, the number of dependencies grows.
Switching to Microservices and the Significance of APIs:
To combat the challenge mentioned above, enterprises are now deploying microservices while resolving IT challenges. They can isolate services to increase the speed, reliability, and scalability of applications through continuous delivery and deployment.
Here, a monolithic application (left) is being rewritten using a microservice approach (right):
For a microservice to function, all components must interact with each other, the applications, websites they power, and the databases from which they draw real-time information.
This is where API comes into the picture. APIs offer universal integration by facilitating communication between different coding language subsets. Because of this, they present the most logical model for building an interface between the various components of microservice architecture.
Let’s see how these APIs act as a gateway in e-commerce:
A microservice is capable of being more than just an API for a system. An entire application can comprise a series of microservices that use their APIs for communicating with each other. Additionally, each of these microservices can abstract its functionality, draw logical boundaries for responsibility within the application, and separate concerns to make a more credible codebase. In fact, microservices act as the ultimate key to your digital transformation success.
By now, you should have a sound understanding of the differences between microservices and APIs. However, some enterprises often misinterpret them as the same thing. Below are some common fallacies surrounding Microservice & API:
Fallacy 1: Microservices and APIs are the same -APIs determine how software components should interact, whereas microservices are a unique architectural approach that provides an efficient and scalable way to implement services.
Fallacy 2: Microservices: A-one-size-fits-all solution -It’s a common misunderstanding that microservices suit every application. When applying microservice architecture, one should use this application based on a specific technology and business strategies. Not every application in an enterprise environment is a fit for microservice architecture.
Fallacy 3: Microservices is the execution of an API -This seems to be a heated one. Microservice architecture is the way you build your solution, whereas APIs are what your consumers see. Therefore, microservices are not the only way to implement an API. Similarly, not all microservices use APIs.
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