A few years ago, monolithic systems were the most commonly used in the market. eCommerce was no different. However, monolithic architecture is becoming obsolete as modern businesses seek greater flexibility. That is why companies are more likely to turn into microservice architecture for their technology stack now and in the future. Service mesh architecture and microservices enable eCommerce companies to adjust quickly and stay in line with market demands.

The microservice architecture provides individual components or microservices linked by an API gateway. Although particular aspects of this e-commerce architecture are important to development teams, its business advantages can be numerous:

  • Development has no limits to the strict technical structure of a monolithic eCommerce platform and can be used with modern technologies.
  • Using this architecture allows developers to create attractive eCommerce applications.
  • Small developer teams can simultaneously build different services using different processes and technologies.

This article will explain the microservices approach and its reflection in eCommerce systems.

What are microservices?

Microservice architecture is a software development method where different application components (mainly responsible for one part of the system) can be paired together to build a complete, entire system.

Microservices have been named for their ability to act independently as small software applications. Typically, these structures offer the advantages of scaling a service independently without disrupting neighboring services; they are highly scalable and can eliminate bottlenecks common in monolithic architectures.

A microservice derives from the distributed computing architecture that connects many small services (instead of having one large service). The microservice can then be delivered through an application programming interface (API).

The API can communicate multiple types of information to users, such as:

  • Data you want to share
  • A function you want to provide

The API is necessary for the microservice architecture to function because it is the communication tool between its services. Without an API, there would be a lot of disconnected microservices. 

In short, talk of a microservice has to do more with the software architecture, and the API is a way to expose the microservice to a consumer.

Service Mesh & microservices eCommerce architecture

A Service Mesh can be defined as a dedicated infrastructure layer that handles communication between services in an e-commerce microservices architecture. Service Mesh enables you to successfully and efficiently run a distributed microservice architecture and provides a unified approach to securing, connecting, and monitoring microservices.

Typically, a Service Mesh provides the following capabilities:

  • Load balancing
  • Service discovery
  • Health examination
  • Verification method
  • Traffic Management and Routing
  • Circuit breakers and failover
  • Safety management
  • Metrics collection and monitoring
  • Fault injection

With Service Mesh, you can provide common network-related functions such as configuration, routing, telemetry, logging, circuit breaking, etc. in each microservice without using any 3rd party libraries/components.

Benefits and drawbacks of implementing microservices-based architecture

Applications built as independent, modular components are easier to test, maintain, and understand. They enable organizations to:

  • Increase agility
  • Improve workflows
  • Decrease the amount of time it takes to improve the production environment

General benefits of using microservices-based architecture:

  • Developing software systems is independent of programming language
  • Isolation & resilience
  • Scalability of technology stack
  • Autonomous development
  • Relationship to the business
  • Evolutionary

Of course, microservice architecture comes with a learning curve. First-time users might struggle to determine:

  • Each microservice’s size
  • Optimal boundaries and connection points between microservices
  • The right framework and technology stack to integrate services

Symfony – a flexible framework that allows the implementation of the eCommerce microservices architecture

More broadly, microservices have these drawbacks:

  • Increased complexity
  • More expensive development
  • Debugging problems can be trickier- dealing with a lot of inter-service communication and underlying networking.

Issues with monolithic architecture

Some time ago, enterprises had no option but to build systems upon monolithic structures. In some ways, a monolith would seem to be more straightforward. The system contained all of the necessary components. However, as time goes on, many companies face challenges with this integrated structure over time.

Customization leads to complications

The process takes a considerable amount of time. It may also complicate the development with increasing business capacity and various teams working with the system over the years.

The response to new market trends is slow

Customers are expected to be satisfied with the products and services they receive, so brands should have a fast and responsive approach to change and meet new expectations. A monolith platform may slow and complicate the rapid development.

Updates need a lot of testing before going live

Since a simple update could ruin a whole eCommerce system, all updated information should undergo thorough testing.

High dependency leads to a single failure point

As mentioned above, system parts connected together and dependent on the other could ruin the whole system.

Differences between monolithic, headless, and eCommerce microservices

In monolithic architecture, each component is tightly coupled, making it impossible to introduce any change without impacting the whole system. So any changes at the application’s front-end require a complete deployment, and every single back-end component must be altered accordingly.

In a headless architecture, the front-end and back-end are separated. It allows changes to be made in the application’s front-end without interrupting the back-end.

Microservices-based architecture is a modular approach to designing eCommerce software. In authentic eCommerce microservices-based architecture, each functionality is decoupled from one another, not just the front-end and the back-end.

Why develop microservice architecture?

Are you running an eCommerce store and thinking about moving from a monolithic architecture to microservices? This is an excellent choice because microservices can help you respond to rapid changes in user behavior and business environment. In the microservice approach, complex structures are transformed into small, self-sufficient and maintenance-free services.

Reasons for the move to microservices and headless systems for eCommerce businesses

Given this issue with monolithic systems, it is no wonder enterprise companies began to seek out alternatives. Microservice architecture offers flexible solutions based on client needs and market demand. A loosely coupled microservice architecture can have several advantages for development or for end customers.

Get best-of-breed solutions

You can choose to implement services, e-commerce functionality or user interface that focus on your specific need rather than relying on a single system (as it happens in „all in one platforms”).

Front-end does not affect the back-end

The advantage of using a microservice architecture is the front-end and back-end are individualized and scaled. Developers can add services when necessary without adjusting the entire system.

Increased opportunities for customization and personalization

Multiple systems can be connected together when using headless systems. It offers the potential to add several different touchpoints to your front-end (e.g. user interface).

Developing microservices from monolithic systems

Many of the current global IT systems are designed with monolithic architectures. Some might say the monolith is too massive, and migrating them on microservices at once will affect security for the entire enterprise. But that doesn’t mean that big, monolithic systems are insufficient to transform and adapt the modern microservices model to the new business needs. An initial step involves the design of a gateway for an already-existing backend.

Microservices enable businesses to provide the omnichannel buying experience that customers expect from their favourite brands today. So if you are thinking about embracing headless commerce, moving from a monolithic architecture to headless and microservices is a perfect choice.

headless-eCommerce-architecture
Headless eCommerce architecture

Why is microservice development a good choice for eCommerce?

eCommerce companies that have felt comfortable relying on legacy systems for some time may wonder why they need to abandon their monolithic platforms in favor of microservices-based architecture.

eCommerce stores need to be more agile to adapt to market changes, new technologies, and changing customer expectations. Microservices architecture enables them to do just that, along with the bonus of using APIs to connect third-party systems and extend their eCommerce platform. Microservices make scaling an eCommerce system much easier and can yield better performance. 

The microservices architecture gives eCommerce companies some benefits:

  • Flexibility
  • Reduced complexity – developers may keep things simple and implement new technologies quickly
  • Keeping peace with customer expectations
  • Seamless integrations and changes
  • Scalability

Steps to implement service-oriented architectures

First, you need to identify the business’s needs and objectives. What are your primary goals for the eCommerce website? What services and features do you need? What kind of scalability do you plan for? You need to understand the business’s unique needs and goals to develop a microservices architecture tailored to your specific needs and business functionality.

Once you have identified the business’s needs, you can start software engineering – designing the microservices architecture. You should begin by breaking down the application into distinct, independent services. It will allow you to develop and deploy each service independently and quickly. You should also look at the data models to ensure that services can communicate with each other and that data can be stored and accessed efficiently.

Finally, you should use asynchronous communication to ensure that the microservices can work together in harmony. You may use a message broker, such as Kafka or RabbitMQ, to ensure that each service can send and receive messages from the other services in a timely manner. It will ensure that the services can communicate reliably and consistently.

These are the key steps you would take when developing an eCommerce microservices architecture. With careful planning and analysis, you can ensure that the architecture is tailored to the business’s specific needs and that the services can communicate properly.

Our approach to eCommerce microservices architecture

Whether we work with an existing or new company, microservices will be developed with thorough analysis, synchronous communication and adjusted according to the business’s unique needs. Of course, not everyone needs this solution from the beginning, and sometimes it is a good way to start the entire development process from a monolithic system and go to microservices architecture step by step.

Radosław Żurawski - CSO at BitBag
Are you considering microservice architecture for your eCommerce?

Summary

If you’re looking to create a powerful and ever-evolving customer experience across different channels, then consider utilizing a modular architecture with microservices architecture. Our experts are here to help you every step of the way, from assessing your business needs to launching and maintaining the solution. We also provide support and consulting services to ensure that your system is running smoothly and performing optimally. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us when you’re ready to start integrating microservices into your operations.