A global survey of 353 application development professionals conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of LightStep, a provider of application performance management (APM) tools, finds a full 86 percent of respondents expect microservices to be the default architecture within five years.
A total of 60 percent of respondents said they already have microservices in production or deployed as part of a pilot, and 92 percent said they expect to grow their use in the coming year.
Top reasons cited for employing microservices are agility (82 percent) and scalability (78 percent).
The downside of increased reliance of microservices is the need to manage them all. The survey finds 99 percent report challenges in using them. More than half (56 percent) reported that each additional microservice increases operational challenges, and 87 percent of those that have deployed microservices in a production environment reported they are generating more application data.
To make matters more challenging, a full 98 percent of respondents said they have trouble identifying the root cause of performance issues associated with microservices. More than three-quarters (76 percent) said it also takes longer to resolve issues. In fact, 73 percent said it is more difficult to troubleshoot application performance problems compared to a traditional monolithic application.
Not surprisingly, just less than three-quarters (74 percent) said they plan to increase investments in microservice performance management tools in the next year.
LightStep CEO Ben Sigelman said that while microservices come in many forms, advances in how software is developed is clearly coming at a cost. Not only is software becoming more challenging to manage, APM tools are now a prerequisite. Historically, IT organizations only monitored their most mission-critical applications. But the level of dependency each microservice has on others requires a more holistic approach to APM, Sigelman said, noting that IT teams now need to be able to see well beyond the border of any one microservice.
Challenges associated with managing microservices are not likely to deter organizations from eventually adopting them. The level of agility and resilience inherently built into in a microservices-based application are too high to ignore. But the rate at which they are employed might be impacted. There’s usually a direct relationship between the availability of tooling and expertise and the rate at which any emerging technology gets deployed in a production environment. The good news is advances in machine learning algorithms and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) should make it easier to manage microservices in the years ahead.
In the meantime, IT organizations can take some comfort in the fact that developers are being held more accountable for the microservices they build. That level of accountability tends to vary widely by organization. But the end result is generally higher levels of software quality because developers increasingly realize they can’t throw code over the proverbial IT operations wall without it coming back to them. The challenge now is to bridge the historic divide between developers and IT operations teams in a way that works best for everyone concerned.