Tag Archives: direction

Microservices messaging becomes a hot topic at API World

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The API World conference provided a good deal of advice and direction for those interested in taking their monolithic software architectures toward a more distributed, microservices-based architecture, particularly in regard to microservices messaging protocols.

Let’s look at some of the revelations and instructions provided to conference attendees related to microservices, including how to move beyond REST and some of the latest and greatest messaging protocols and architectures worth watching.

Moving beyond REST

There was buzz at API World 2017 about the use of REST as the standard messaging protocol for microservices. While REST has been popular, members of a panel session focused on the evolution of microservices messaging protocols suggested organizations are — and should be — ready to explore other options for messaging.

“People were not happy with RESTful APIs, because there is a pattern mismatch,” said panel member Fran Mendez, lead engineer at the London-based API support platform provider Hitch. “Even [with] web sockets, you need to have a great connection to make them match. That’s why people are looking at other options for event-driven.”

API World presentation

How Reactive can help

Mark Makary, CTO and president of Logic Keepers, a technology adviser company based in Frisco, Texas, spoke to conference attendees about the potential drawbacks of depending on a traditional blocking REST architecture for microservices and how moving to a Reactive nonblocking, event-based architecture may help.

“After people are going through the [microservices] journey, they run into problems where the system is not very responsive,” Makary explained. “We are getting used to apps getting very responsive, and this is part of the user experience.”

Makary explained there are three potential drawbacks on performance: I/O and database blocking, monoliths and performance management, and poor internal and external endpoint management. By moving toward a Reactive architecture, he said, organizations can make their applications more responsive, elastic, event-driven, asynchronous and nonblocking.

API World panel

Consider gRPC, Kafka and GraphQL

One suggestion was for people to start exploring gRPC, an open source remote procedure call system initially developed at Google. Varun Talwar, product management lead at Google, explained that since this protocol uses HTTP/2, it allows for what he called “a very polyglot way for people to communicate.”

“GRPC can help with streaming, client-side streaming, server-side streaming and getting messages back,” Talwar explained. “A lot of people in the REST world found that hard to do.”

The discussion also shifted toward a conversation about the use of Kafka, an open source stream-processing platform, mainly due to its fault-tolerant nature of delivering messages.

“You can ensure that [Kafka] is reliable on two or three brokers,” said Mike Sample, director of technology and principal developer at Hootsuite, a social media management platform provider in Vancouver, B.C. “They can store two or three partitions … it’s very robust.”

Panel members also touted the advantages of using GraphQL, a data query language developed internally by Facebook, as an alternative to REST architecture, particularly for distributed development teams.

“Organizations can have spread-out development teams … [GraphQL] can really help with that,” explained panel member Ryan Blain, CTO at Atlanta-based Arvata.io. “It has to be thought of as an API gateway, and that gateway can reach out to different services.” Blain warned, however, that tooling for GraphQL may be relatively immature.

Taking it all home

Attendees of API World reacted positively to the microservices session, particularly to the panel discussion about microservices messaging protocols.

“My favorite one was actually the panel, the discussion about what the different communication protocols between the microservices are and why we would use one over the other,” said Hema Rajashekhara, a senior application developer at the financial services company Capital Group.

Rajashekhara said she is actively looking for more information about microservices messaging protocols to help mitigate performance issues as they transition toward microservice implementation.

“One thing that I’m concerned about is performance and communicating between the different microservices and how it’s going to affect performance,” she said. “So, to hear the differences between gRPC and Kafka is something that I’m going to take back and see what’s best to apply.”

Other attendees, such as Barb Honken, a systems integration analyst at Blackfoot, particularly gravitated toward the discussions about the use of the GraphQL language for microservices.

“I didn’t come here thinking I wanted to learn more about GraphQL,” Honken said. “But now I do.”

On tap for Microsoft Ignite conference: Adobe, Dynamics 365, LinkedIn

To understand the direction Microsoft is moving with its Dynamics 365 platform, you have to go to 2014, when CEO Satya Nadella was put in charge of the company. One of his primary goals was to take a larger share of the CRM market, where Microsoft currently sits fourth behind leader Salesforce, Oracle and SAP.

This process — and progress, according to analysts — was multipronged, starting with better alignment with Microsoft’s existing business applications, namely Office 365 and Outlook; adding cloud hosting with Azure and business intelligence with Power BI; continuing the Microsoft-Adobe partnership; and acquiring LinkedIn, both of which added significant value to the Dynamics 365 platform.

The Adobe partnership was announced at the annual Microsoft Ignite conference last year. For Microsoft Ignite 2017, analysts expect the Adobe partnership to deepen and possibly expand, and for the LinkedIn purchase — which was announced but not yet finalized during last year’s conference — to play a more significant role. The conference, located in Orlando this year, takes place from Sept. 25 to 29.

“If Microsoft was just going to try and replace existing technology in the ERP and CRM market, it would be a pretty difficult battle,” said Kevin Armstrong, vice president of Microsoft Sales at Tribridge, a technology services firm in Chelmsford, Mass. “For Dynamics 365 to take hold, Satya had to change the vision of Dynamics, and the direction has been fast and impressive.”

Building on the Microsoft-Adobe partnership

Microsoft has been tight-lipped about any announcements ahead of Microsoft Ignite 2017. Unlike Salesforce, which had its CEO Marc Benioff take the lid off the Einstein announcement prior to Dreamforce last year, Microsoft keeps its news closer to the chest, only teasing out the news of a partnership last year, before announcing the relationship with Adobe at the conference.

Session descriptions for the upcoming conference do mention the possibility of further Microsoft-Adobe integrations or products.

There is some joint go-to-market efforts and selling across [Microsoft and Adobe].
Michael Fauscettechief research officer, G2 Crowd

“We share current and upcoming capabilities, including demos of integrations between Adobe Campaign, Adobe Experience Manager, Dynamics 365 and Power BI,” one description read.

Adobe recently announced new features for email marketing in its Campaign Manager, which is part of Adobe Marketing Cloud, one of the main products Microsoft is partnering with to better provide marketing capabilities for its enterprise-sized customers.

“The thing about Adobe in the digital marketing side of the house is they’ve had this reputation — this ‘cool’ factor — for Adobe’s marketing suite,” said Michael Fauscette, chief research officer at Chicago-based G2 Group. “There’s a cache about that integration and capabilities that Microsoft doesn’t have.”

Fauscette said he also believes that Microsoft and Adobe could be gearing up to go to market together on joint product offerings — an attractive option for Microsoft-heavy shops looking for better customer and marketing management.

“There is some joint go-to-market efforts and selling across companies,” Fauscette said. “I think there is some economic advantage selling directly, versus a referral partnership.”

Further integration with existing products

Microsoft wasted little time integrating Dynamics 365 with other in-house business applications and putting them on the same common data model — a big computing advantage, according to Armstrong. But further integration with Microsoft’s host of products could still be beneficial, and some of that could be unveiled at the upcoming Microsoft Ignite conference.

“I’m a big believer in Microsoft’s move toward machine learning and AI with Cortana,” Armstrong said. “The biggest advantage of having all this data in one solution is leveraging Cortana to look at the data and tell us things about our customers or prospects. The reason that’s important is you’re not talking about integrating with [AI], you’re talking about interacting with it.”

Microsoft hinted at new tools for innovation around Dynamics 365 at Microsoft Ignite 2017. Building off its integrations with its existing products and expanding to others — like Cortana and Power BI — could provide some of those new innovations.

The LinkedIn whale

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016 was arguably the biggest tech splash of the year, with the Seattle-based company spending $26.2 billion on the professional social network. Yet at last year’s conference, there was little official discussion about the capabilities and integrations on the Microsoft side, as the sale was still under the approving eyes of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). After the sale was finalized a couple of months later, Microsoft continued to say that the LinkedIn and Sales Navigator tool APIs would remain open for all to use.

“Microsoft is trying to do two things: one is leave LinkedIn and their tools in their existing position — keep them Switzerland,” Fauscette said. “At the same time, Microsoft wants to integrate them more deeply in the background so that if you’re a Dynamics customer you can get an advantage of using it.”

Still, analysts see an advantage for Microsoft having LinkedIn in its stable of products with the capability of baking its features directly into Dynamics 365, rather than a third-party integration that other CRM companies have to do.

“Anytime you have separate systems combine, you have potential for connection points to break,” Armstrong said.

It’s unlikely that Microsoft spent $26.2 billion for an existing revenue stream, but it also can’t use LinkedIn as a proprietary product without upsetting the SEC. However, Microsoft users should expect enhanced features moving forward with LinkedIn, and the first tidbit of those features could be heard at the Microsoft Ignite conference.