Scaling Development with Microservices

Scaling Development with Microservices

Developers spend most of their time coding and verifying code in their favorite IDEs and local terminals. This was simple when the entire application could easily be run locally with all its dependencies including databases. This is no longer the case for modern cloud native software which is increasingly distributed with many service, cloud and 3rd party dependencies.

Development Environments for Microservices

Microservices based architecture enables decomposition of a software application into small "services" that communicate using well defined interfaces. Though the term "Microservice" lacks a precise definition, the high level idea is borne out of the need to enable teams and developers to move independently.

In such an ecosystem, developers seek productive development environments but face difficult trade offs in terms of feedback speed and quality. They could optimize for speed (e.g by developing locally using mocks of dependent services) at the expense of quality or they could optimize for higher quality feedback (e.g by relying on a high-fidelity pre-production environment) at the expense of speed.

Isolation in these environments is also key. Relying on a shared dev environment slows developers down as it's challenging to keep such environments stable.

One approach, to provide isolated environments, is to stamp out a full copy of the environment for every developer (as shown below in Figure 1). However, this approach comes with significant management overhead and is not cost effective at scale.

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Figure 1: Stamping out copies of an Environment

Collaboration is Key

As development teams get more distributed, developers need the ability to move forward independently AND collaborate asynchronously.

Microservices based software architectures enable splitting up the codebase into manageable number of services that can be independently released. However, getting feedback on code changes early and collaborating on product features that span multiple services is still challenging.

Introducing Signadot Workspaces

What if developers could have their cake and eat it too? Could we have environments with the right isolation model that provide fast and high-quality feedback during development? It turns out the answer is a Yes(!) and we are excited to be building such a solution at Signadot!

Signadot "Workspaces" (as shown in Figure 2 below) is a Kubernetes based solution that provides ephemeral Staging environments, that are quick to spin up, for every code change. Workspaces integrates with source hosting services like GitHub and provides an environment for every Pull Request. Workspaces are accessed via Preview URLs managed by Signadot.

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Figure 2: Signadot Workspaces

Preview URLs can be shared with stakeholders for fast feedback and rapid product iteration. Moreover, developers across teams can share a single Workspace to collaborate on product features that span multiple, independent PRs.

Workspaces is installed on an existing pre-production Kubernetes cluster that has a stable baseline version of services continuously deployed. This enables high quality feedback during development and ensures testing of code changes against the latest, stable baseline.

An unique multi-tenant architecture enables sharing of the baseline version of services between Workspaces and makes it cost effective to scale to 100s of Microservices.

Road Ahead

We are just getting started and here are few things that we're very excited about:

  • Debuggability: Debug test failures by providing greater visibility into Workspaces
  • Enhanced Previews: Host previews to configurable service entry points
  • DB Schema changes: Manage lifecycle of ephemeral DB instances tied to Workspaces

Stay tuned as we share more around our product Roadmap and technical Architecture!

Schedule a Demo

Feel free to sign up on our website to schedule a Demo of Workspaces.

We are Hiring!

If you are a backend engineer with a passion for building cloud native infrastructure, we would love to hear from you! Check out our job description here.