Ecommerce Microservices Explained: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This post was originally published on October 21, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance to the current market.

In today’s world, a one-sided commercial approach will not get the job done. It is critical that e-commerce brands consistently evolve to meet today’s market demands and customer needs. One of the best ways to do this. e-commerce microservices.

E-commerce microservices allow you to quickly and flexibly meet customer expectations so you can always stay up-to-date with e-commerce best practices and new technologies.

But are you aware of everything there is to know about eCommerce microservices? Let’s break down the good, bad, and ugly truth about ecommerce microservices that brands like yours need to know.

What are e-commerce microservices?

Microservices are small services that are loosely coupled, self-deployable, and organized around business capabilities that enable large complex applications to be delivered quickly, frequently, and reliably.

Although they were created a decade ago, microservices are still new to many business professionals. While many developers are adapting and experimenting with microservices for e-commerce, others continue to shy away due to perceived complexity and risk.

That will likely change in the coming years as Composable Commerce makes it easier to work within a microservices architecture. When you’re deciding whether an eCommerce microservices architecture is right for you, here’s what to consider:

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The good. benefits of e-commerce microservices

Microservices are known for their unparalleled flexibility and modularity. Securing new customer experiences and adding additional customer experiences can be done quickly with microservices technology.

Microservices are completely independent. individual platforms, deployments, and data storage capabilities exist separately from each other. If a developer needs to create a new microservice and is working with Javascript, he can create the microservice with Javascript. They don’t need to learn a new language to continue on the platform. This way, any new application can be created quickly and has a reduced time to market.

This is the complete opposite of a complete monolithic package, where the maximum functionality lives in a single service that is tested, deployed and scaled as a single unit. Integration stages, quality assurance and a common language are required to make the platform work. Expanding a monolithic suite to include other touchpoints and devices requires significant customization, making it costly to explore new ideas.

The bad. common challenges of e-commerce microservices

When companies move from a monolithic to a microservices e-commerce solution, challenges arise. After all, having a monolithic pattern means having an infrastructure, licenses, and organizational structure built around a monolithic technology.

The potential challenges of completely transforming an initially unstructured solution using APIs and microservices include:

  • Redundancy or retraining of employees
  • Dealing with duplicate data and connections
  • Losing control of your database
  • Setting up your cross-functional organizational capabilities and communication

These challenges do not negate the benefits of an e-commerce microservices architecture. Choosing an API-first, microservices-based commercial solution like Elastic Path ensures that you have support as you gradually replace your monolithic system and train your team.

The Ugly: The Downside of Unsupported Ecommerce Microservices Adoption

The biggest downside to microservices is the complexity that miniservices introduce into your team’s developer architecture.

When e-commerce microservices first hit the scene, developers found themselves managing multiple microservices at once. It created disjointed, difficult work and a process that was not streamlined.

Some developers have also faced challenges in tracking their changes and work after adopting a microservices architecture. The autonomy and independence microservices provide to your team can also mean that one teammate leaving makes it impossible to edit some part of your architecture.

For these reasons, having support when adopting e-commerce microservices is essential. One of the ways that Elastic Path Commerce Cloud helps is by including Packaged Business Opportunities (PBC).

PBCs and microservices are not the same. PBCs are a grouping of APIs that serve specific business capabilities. Microservices are highly encapsulated and specific.

PBCs are useful because they reduce complexity, increase clarity, and are developed through business-oriented planning.

For brands looking for a business-centric eCommerce solution, PBCs are a strong option, and selecting and managing PBCs is made easy with Elastic Path.

Should you adopt an eCommerce microservices architecture?

An e-commerce microservices architecture will provide the flexible foundation that businesses need today to keep up with the ever-evolving commerce landscape. Implementing a microservices architecture benefits both developers and end users.

  1. Plenty of customization options. By adding multiple front ends, you can easily and seamlessly integrate multiple new touch points for customers, all while remaining connected to the same back end.
  2. Quick and easy implementation. By decentralizing the development process, microservices allow rapid implementation of changes. This means you can get to market faster with new updates.
  3. A stack of leaner technologies. Because you only add what you really need, you’ll be able to enjoy a simpler and more efficient technology package.
  4. Front traffic will not affect the rear. In the past, developers usually had to configure the entire system to extend services. With microservices, the front-end and back-end are measured separately, meaning that heavy traffic won’t affect what’s happening in the back-end.
  5. Pick and choose the solutions you want. With eCommerce microservices, you can choose services and solutions that specialize in your exact needs and enjoy a custom-tailored approach.

Moving forward with e-commerce microservices

Ecommerce microservices can be a great benefit to your business. While past developers have experienced many pain points when adopting microservices for e-commerce, you can learn from their mistakes and adapt your microservices strategy to drive business success.

At Elastic Path, we want to ensure that the ugly side of microservices never rears its head. Talk to an expert to find out how our team can help you implement a microservices architecture that fits your business needs and goals.

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