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Introduction to Agile

Agile methodology is a form of software development methodology where the entire focus is on providing client satisfaction through the process of continuous delivery. There was a time when the waterfall methodology was the golden standard for software development, but this process had its cons and when agile was introduced, it became widely appreciated over time.

Agile processes were based on sustainable development, where stakeholders, developers, and customers were equally benefited, and were able to work at a constant pace. The frequent collaboration with stakeholders, closely working team members, and the possibility to embrace change late in the project has made Agile popular among teams. Going through the Agile Manifesto would give you an idea of the set of guidelines to work with the methodology.

The concept of modern Agile is also becoming popular, and it is far broader than the Agile methodology. It covers several aspects of business, and not just product development.

The two main methodologies are: Waterfall and Agile. Choosing the right development methodology is tricky because both are usable and mature.

A) Traditional or Waterfall Approach

The waterfall methodology is a traditional, linear approach to software development, and follows these processes in their own distinctive stages:

  • Gather project requirements
  • Design the project
  • Coding and unit testing
  • Perform system testing
  • Perform UAT or User Acceptance testing
  • Identify and fix issues
  • Deliver final product

Each of these stages is compartmentalized in their own right, and customer approval is mandatory before going to the next stage.

It could be single-tier, 2-tier or n-tier. In a 2-tier architecture, you have the client-server architecture and the communication line between the client and server would be open. The presentation layer would be in the client side and the database layer would be on the server side.

In an n-tier application program, the various parts of the application are spread among two or three computers, but they would be networked. N-tier can also be called the 3-tier application, and would be distributed in the following manner, usually:

(1) User Interface Programming in the user’s computer,

(2) Business logic in a centralized computer and

(3) Required data in a database managing computer.

B) Modern Approach – Agile with Microservices and Serverless

The best approach to start with microservices is to know the right application which would be suitable for it, and then you can capitalize on an early success. Ensure that the application supports a well-understood business domain, because then it is easy to switch to microservices. It would be ideal to go for an application that’s already funded for development/modernization.

Hire experts in serverless and microservices solution design. Next, you can build and deploy the application or product using highly productive, serverless design solution like Azure Functions, AWS, etc. To ensure you deliver high value to the customer, employ compatible development process (like DevOps and CI/CD).

Importance of Switching to the Modern Approach

By moving your project to the modern approach, while leveraging the benefits of microservice architecture on serverless computing environment and hiring CI/CD experts, your organization can see tremendous growth and early results.

In the end, your organization will be rewarded with quick delivery of recognizable value, low operational cost, shorter development cycles, consistent deployment of working code and high degree of reusability.

Moving to microservices and serverless can help you scale your application, especially during peak hours and holiday seasons. Following this trend would definitely help you gain the upper hand among your competitors.

Microservices

Microservices Elements

Microservice architecture is a distinctive form of service-oriented architecture style where the process of application development is broken down into different smaller services rather than making it large and complex. This would be a collection of loosely coupled services focusing on Continuous Deployment while implementing business capabilities.

The microservices architectural pattern addresses several limitations and problems developers and administration faced with the monolithic architectural pattern. As enterprises turn to Agile, and focus on DevOps, microservices would be greatly helpful in developing testable software in a weekly manner.

Tech giants like Amazon, PayPal, Twitter, eBay and Netflix have moved from monolithic architecture to microservices architecture and we at Cabot Solutions have done the same. With its capability to build small suites of services, you can build scalable and flexible applications, in different languages, and using different storage techniques.

Advantages of Microservices

Microservices architecture has proved itself to show many advantages and benefits to its users. Here are some of them:

Conquer global competition - The APIs bring order and agility in the applications enabling rapid development in a globally competitive world. If you are looking for an architecture that lets you reach out to the maximum number of people, here you go.

Reduce business complexity - Customers need apps that are better, cheaper and faster, and to implement these, the businesses have to employ methods that reduce complexity. For example, Paypal’s “make a payment” button is an entirely new application that’s maintained and improved by a team exclusively for it. Amazon’s user reviews and “add to cart” are different, discrete apps. Different teams manage it, and separately too. This is how they break down the complex parts, so they can be maintained and updated regularly and individually.

Scalable and secure - As explained above, the various parts of the app are isolated, so security monitoring becomes easier. And even if a security hitch occurs, it will not affect the rest of the application. This is helpful for scalability too because you can scale any part of the app as per requirement, and is possible with third-party services.

Reduced costs - As you can break down the applications, there is a cost savings of about 20-50%. Implementing agile methodology calls for a great deal of customer involvement, and this can add to the time and cost of implementation. Microservices, through the breaking down of services, makes it possible to accommodate agile practices too, without overtly affecting the costs.

Maintain legacy - The highly module design of microservices makes it possible to maintain legacy applications. If you are looking for achieving close to 100% availability during peak hours, with no glitches in page views, this is the solution.

Time to market - Business agility helps in quicker time to market, especially when agility is involved. Faster application deployment and portability adds to the agility to scale to demand.

Small batches of work - Naturally, when the application can be cut down to small, manageable pieces by developer teams managing their area of expertise, development moves faster, with increased product quality.

Quicker deployment - Microservices speeds up deployment because all the processes can be completed in shorter times. This in turn, cuts your IT spend.

Serverless

Serverless, is short for Serverless computing, and the newest buzzword in town. Also known as Function as a service (FaaS), this technology eases the job of the developer by hosting the applications through a third-party service. The developer no longer has to manage the server software and hardware.

In other words, the developer just has to focus on building and running the applications, without worrying about the infrastructure part. Provisioning, scaling and maintaining the servers are also handled by the third party, leaving the developer to focus his energies on building great applications. Cloud services like Amazon DynamoDB, Lambda and API Gateway can relieve them off the different operational complexities involved in running and managing applications.

Here is a quick glimpse of some of the major services offered through serverless computing through AWS:

AWS Serverless


  • Lambda - AWS Lambda is a serverless computing platform provided as part of the Amazon Web Services, and lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. Being event-driven, you only pay for the used computing time.
  • API Gateway - API Gateway looks at all the requests from the client, focuses on which services are needed, and then combines them to provide a synchronous experience for the user. The gateway makes it easier for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor and secure APIs. It also makes it easier for developers to access data and business logic from backend services.
  • DynamoDB - Designed to provide low latency and high performance, DynamoDB is a fully managed NoSQL database service from AWS. DynamoDB On-Demand features a new pricing model and gives you serverless billing for your applications.
  • Cognito - Amazon Cognito provides all the authentication and authorization for all web and mobile applications. There are two main components, known as user pools and identity pools, to store profiles of users and to provide appropriate access.
  • S3 - Amazon S3 is Simple Storage Service. It acts as an object storage service, is highly fast, and easily scalable. It facilitates secure, low-latency data storage from the cloud.
  • CloudFront - CloudFront is a cloud-based content delivery network with a worldwide network of proxy servers containing cached content including web videos and other bulky media. Content will be distributed through the nearest CDN server, thereby reducing latency. Distribution of both static and dynamic content are fast and secure.
  • Route53 - Coming under the AWS suite of services, Route53 is a scalable Domain Name System that routes internet traffic to your resources. It’s quite reliable and let’s you manage traffic to all the strong endpoints, track the health of your application through different kinds of routing type like Geo DNS, Weighted Round Robin, Latency Based Routing as so on.

Azure Services

Microsoft’s Azure Functions are also heavily invested in serverless, the aim being, to simplify and accelerate the app development process. There is a fully managed computing platform that does the provisioning of the servers, and maintaining them. This lets you run the code on demand according to the variety of events happening. Here are some of the most popular Azure services.

  • Blob Storage - Azure Blob Storage lets you store huge amounts of unstructured object data privately. This could be in the text or binary form. It is possible to store them in hot, cold or archive tier, depending on how often or how rarely they are used.
  • Cosmos DB - CosmosDB is limitless and flexible. You need to pay only for the throughput and storage that you use. It can transparently scale and replicate data irrespective of where the users are located.
  • Event Grid - Event Gird is a fully managed public-subscribe event handler with consistent performance and the capacity to scale. Developers can focus on app logic rather than worrying about infrastructure. It eliminates spelling and the latency and costs associated with it.
  • Event Hubs - Event Hubs is a big data streaming platform and event ingestion service that can receive, process and store millions of events and data every second. This can be done using real time analytics provider of batching adapters, and perfect for detecting anomalies, live dashboarding, transaction processing, etc.
  • HTTP / Webhooks - Webhooks helps the developer automate event-based workflows without implementing the full solution using Azure Automation API.
  • Microsoft Graph Events - Azure Functions makes it easier for the developer to work with data, insights and events from the Microsoft Graph, an extension.
  • Queue Storage - Azure Functions supports trigger and output bindings for queues, thereby promising low latency and high throughput. There is a messaging system that lets you store all the messages in queues.
  • Service Bus - Microsoft Azure Service Bus is a fully managed enterprise integration message broker that lets you decouple applications and services from each other. It is highly reliable and secure for transferring asynchronous data and state.
  • Timer - The Timer trigger is the perfect tool for running functions as per schedule.

You can choose whichever services you need, depending on the requirement. For example, if you need the option for remote debugging, then Azure would be a better choice.

The Beneficiaries of Microservices

The Microservice architecture follows the philosophy of “Do one thing and do it well” and it benefits the entire organization, ranging from the developer and technical team to the CTO and of course, the customer:

  • Developer - Being an architectural innovation, Microservices can improve the productivity of the developer because they need to write less code, and use newer technologies in different parts of the application.
  • Technical team - The technical team is also greatly benefited because they can accelerate the development process and deliver high quality products to users.
  • Business - Microservices touch upon every aspect of application development whether it is for the web, IoT, mobile, wearables, etc. So whatever your business objective is, you can easily apply the same and build an array of applications to help provide consistent user experience, irrespective of platform.
  • CEO - The CEO can easily put forth the “design first, code later” scenario. This leads to a successful team culture, where he can boost the morale, and inspire a happy working environment among the team members.
  • CTO - The CTO’s job is also easier because it now becomes very easy for all the team members to thrive. They can sharpen their skills, learn new technologies and adopt them and work at their comfort level.
  • Customers - The team is able to provide scalable customer-focused products at the shortest time possible. Consumer requirements are met at a rapid pace, with the possibility of lesser time to market.
  • Stakeholders (especially program managers and product managers) - Faster development, quick delivery and easy deployment resources have made product delivery a dream.

Microservices help in:

  • An organizational perspective - Through Microservices, you can implement the three pillars of Agile - adaptation, inspection and transparency, and these are a major help, on an organizational perspective. You can adapt the functionalities and behaviors, inspect whether the product is working out as planned, and make the entire development process transparent.
  • In recruiting - As microservices are trendy, there will be motivated people to work with the technology. You can even mix developers according to their skill and assign them work in small batches.
  • Training perspective - Microservices helps you embrace new technologies, new languages faster. However you will have to constantly train the team, so you can say that learning curve is a bit steep, a black mark for microservices.
  • Performance - The technology increases the performance aspect of the developed product. You can choose the right language, database and tools, optimize each microservice and so on.
  • Security - Managing APIs can secure microservices, so external agents cannot view them. It has relieved the developing team from all the constraints of the monolithic architecture.
  • Maintainability - There is less code to understand and maintain. The focus is on the subdomain of your model.
  • Testing - The entire testing scenario is so easy because the tests themselves can be done in isolation, and there is less code to test. Integration testing is possible.

Microservices are more suitable for huge, enterprise-level applications.

For relatively smaller, medium sized applications, you can go for serverless applications. This proves that the Modern Approach is more adaptive to the Agile environment.

Conclusion

Agile methodology with the help of cloud services can definitely be your answer to faster product development, low operational costs and a high-quality product. By leveraging the benefits of microservices, it is possible to break the large-scale cyclic modernization pattern faced by organizations. Microservices deployed on serverless computing environments can increase the reliability of the product, increasing its scalability and cut away all unnecessary costs.

Eventually, there is innovation, quicker delivery to client and value realization in the development chain, followed by increased efficiency in work as you have smaller teams.

Would you like to leverage cloud services for faster product development? We can assist you!

Contact Us Today!

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