Principles of Microservices

Microservices are small autonomous services that work together, modeled around a bussiness domain.

They are about independent evolution, each service is independently releasable. You can make a change and deploy them into production on their own.

The Principles

  1. Model around a business domain, provides stable APIs.
  2. Decentralize, allows agility.
  3. Embrace automation, allows scalability at speed.
  4. Hide implementation details, allows evolution.
  5. Deploy independently, allows agility and availability.
  6. Consumer first, provides useful services.
  7. Isolate failure, allows availability.
  8. Highly observable, provides maintainability.

Model around a business domain

  • You should be able to understand the domain when looking at the architecture.

  • Services should represent a bounded context within the domain.

  • Individual services should not be technical layers (e.g. you should not have a data layer service etc) as changes generally span all layers and changes that cross service boundaries are expensive.

  • Hexagonal architecture is good for individual services.


  • Both decision making and design concepts.

  • Services are owned and operated by a team.

  • Autonomy is giving people as much freedom as possible to do the job at hand.

  • Governance you do not have a centralized architect this is decided by members of the team or across teams for wider concerns:
    • Shared communities and practices help promote organizational consistency and learning.
  • Actions that should be in the control of the team are:
    • Provisioning of development environment.
    • Provisioning and deploying infrastructure.
    • Deploying service to any/all environments.
    • Management of services in any/all environments.
    • Tearing down services when no longer needed.
    • Architecture and design decisions.
  • Communication should be dumb:
    • Messaging.
    • Api gateway.

Embrace automation

  • It is needed because you have a lot more complexity in your environment.

  • To allow working at scale and support the Decentralization principle automation should be pursued relentlessly.

  • The speed at which new services can be commissioned will increase over time. The initial cost is in time invested in automation.

  • Common growth rates:
    • 3 Months, 2 services.
    • 12 Months, 6 services.
    • 18 Months, 60 services.
    • Initial cost of automation is high.
  • Items that should be automated:
    • Project commissioning.
    • Infrastructure provisioning/deployment.
    • Build.
    • Test:
      • Unit/Functional.
      • Security.
      • Performance.
      • Contract.
    • Deployment.
    • Teardown.
  • Requires a mindset of every commit being a release candidate.

Hide implementation details

  • Services must be able to evolve independently of each other.
  • Data is shared via an API not a database.
  • Services have their own concept of domain entities.
  • Instance identity is common across all services. e.g. A specific customer should have the same id across all services even though the model of a customer differs in each service.
  • DTO that pass between services are not the internal domain model.
  • Only expose the minimum data you need to. It is easier to expose hidden data than it is to hide exposed data.

Deploy independently

  • You should be able to change a service and deploy it without having to make a change to any other service.

  • You should be able to deploy a service without affecting any other service.

  • One service per host:
    • A host is a virtual machine or container.
    • Requires cheap provisioning of infrastructure.
    • Multiple services per host means side effects and dependencies.
    • Docker makes this easy.
  • Making changes:
    • Key question is “Have I broken one of my consumers?”
    • Consumer driven contracts:
      • Consumer expectations are written in executable tests.
      • Tests are written by the consumer.
      • Tests are run as part of the service’s build pipeline.
      • There are tool to support contract testing:
    • When you need to break consumers:
      • Need to give the consumer time to change.
      • Co-existing endpoint:
        • A breaking API change results in a new endpoint.
        • Old endpoints will be retired but gives consumers time.
    • When you can not break the contract:
      • Brand new version of the service.
      • Increases maintenance cost.

Consumer first

  • Services exist to be called so they should be built outside in rather than inside out.
  • An API is a user interface.
  • An API should be documented:
  • Make it easy to understand what services there are:
    • Service discovery (Consul)
    • Context maps.

Isolate failure

  • Failure in one service should not have a cascading effect.
  • Distributed systems increase the risk of failure.
  • Slow failure ties up resources.
  • Timeouts for requests should be small:
    • Based on percentile response times (90th percentile).
  • Bulkheads, resources needed to access individual services are pooled on a per service basis:
    • One bulkhead per service that you depend on.
    • Prevents one service failure bringing down your entire system.
  • Circuit breakers, After a certain number or request failures you stop sending requests.
    • Allow you to fail fast.
    • Allows planned outage when deploying.
    • Polly .net circuit breaker.

Highly observable

  • Making sure it is easy to understand how things hang together and how they behave.

  • Operating behavior:
    • Aggregate logs.
    • Profile normal operation:
      • Response rates
  • Understand behavior:
    • Correlation id.
    • Include in logs.
    • Visualization maps can be built from aggregated logs.