The open blogging platform. Say no to algorithms and paywalls.

Microservices on AWS: Service Options and Best Practices

What Are Microservices?

Microservices are an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of services that are highly maintainable and testable, loosely coupled, independently deployable, and organized around business capabilities.

The microservices architecture enables the rapid, reliable delivery of large, complex applications. It also enables an organization to evolve its technology stack. There are many microservices architecture patterns, including patterns that are useful for decomposing applications into services, implementing services, and scaling services.

Microservices are the opposite of monolithic structures where every piece of an application's functions are all in one place. Instead, every function of an application is a separate service and can be configured, upgraded, scaled, and restarted independently of all the sibling services in the application. This means the application is not just distributed but also decentralized.

There are many benefits to a microservices architecture, but they come at the expense of complexity. The complexity comes from the fact that each service is often running in its own process and services must communicate with each other over a network.

AWS Service Options for Microservices

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a variety of services that can be used to implement microservices, including compute, networking, and storage.

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers. Amazon EC2 offers a wide selection of instance types optimized to fit different use cases. Instances are virtual servers that can run applications. They can be created and terminated as needed, which makes them ideal for microservices that need to be scaled up and down quickly.

With Amazon EC2, you can develop, deploy, run, and scale your microservices in the cloud in a secure manner. You have complete control over your computing resources and can work in an environment that is designed to be the most secure computing infrastructure in the world.

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets you run your code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume --- there is no charge when your code is not running. With Lambda, you can run code for virtually any type of application or backend service --- all with zero administration. AWS Lambda automatically scales your application by running code in response to each trigger.

AWS Lambda is a serverless compute service that lets you run your code without provisioning or managing servers, creating workload-aware cluster scaling logic, maintaining event integrations, or managing runtimes. This makes it perfect for deploying microservices since it removes the need to manage the server infrastructure.

Amazon ECS and EKS

Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) are two AWS services for running and managing containers. Containers are a lightweight, stand-alone, executable package that includes everything needed to run a piece of software, including the code, a runtime, libraries, environment variables, and configuration files. Containers are commonly used for microservices as they allow each service to have its own environment, with its own isolated processes, filesystem, and network stack.

ECS is a high-performance, highly reliable, and fully-managed container orchestration service that supports Docker containers and allows you to easily run applications on a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances. EKS, on the other hand, is a managed service that makes it easy to deploy, manage, and scale containerized applications using Kubernetes, the most popular open-source container orchestration framework.

AWS Fargate

AWS Fargate is a serverless compute engine for containers that works with both Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). Fargate makes it easy for you to focus on building your applications. Fargate removes the need to provision and manage servers, lets you specify and pay for resources per application, and improves security through application isolation by design.

Fargate allocates the right amount of compute, eliminating the need to choose instances and scale cluster capacity. You only pay for the resources required to run your containers, so there is no overprovisioning and paying for additional servers. Fargate can be used with ECS to run containers without having to manage the underlying infrastructure, and with EKS for running Kubernetes applications without the need to manage the underlying nodes.

Best Practices for Microservices on AWS

To ensure a successful implementation of microservices on AWS, it's essential to adhere to proven best practices. These practices range from managing intercommunication between microservices to automating deployment and ensuring enhanced security. Let's explore each of these practices in detail.

Use AWS Cloud Map to Manage Microservices Interaction

AWS Cloud Map is a cloud resource discovery service that enables you to define custom names for your application resources, and it keeps track of these dynamically changing locations, making intercommunication more efficient. When microservices need to interact, they can easily find the updated locations of the required resources.

Using AWS Cloud Map, your applications can quickly and reliably discover the resources they need to function, such as databases, queues, or microservices. This process is streamlined and automated, eliminating the need for manual updates or custom solutions. As your application scales and resource locations change, AWS Cloud Map automatically updates the resource information.

Lastly, AWS Cloud Map allows you to categorize resources based on multiple parameters, thereby making it easy to find and connect the right resource at the right time. This results in efficient intercommunication between microservices, contributing to the seamless functioning of your application.

Use Amazon Cognito for Authentication and AWS WAF for Security

Security is paramount in any application, but the distributed nature of microservices requires an additional layer of protection. To achieve this, AWS offers two powerful tools: Amazon Cognito for user authentication and AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) to protect your web applications.

Amazon Cognito manages user authentication and access control, allowing you to focus on building your application. It supports the use of social identity providers like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, as well as enterprise identity providers via SAML 2.0. With Amazon Cognito, you can manage user sign-up, sign-in, and access control, all from one service.

On the other hand, AWS WAF is a web application firewall that protects your web applications from common web exploits that could affect application availability, compromise security, or consume excessive resources. AWS WAF gives you control over which traffic to allow or block to your web applications by defining customizable web security rules.

Isolate Microservices using VPCs and Subnets

Isolation is another important aspect of maintaining secure microservices on AWS. By using Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) and subnets, you can keep your microservices separate, preventing potential security threats from spreading throughout your application.

A VPC is a virtual network dedicated to your AWS account. It enables you to launch AWS resources into a virtual network that you've defined. This virtual network closely resembles a traditional network that you'd operate in your own data center, with the benefits of using the scalable infrastructure of AWS.

Subnets, on the other hand, are a range of IP addresses in your VPC. You can launch AWS resources into a chosen subnet. Using subnets, you can organize your network, control access, and ensure that your microservices remain isolated and secure.

Utilize AWS CodePipeline and CodeBuild for CI/CD

Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) is a critical aspect of a successful microservices strategy, and AWS provides two powerful tools for this: AWS CodePipeline and CodeBuild.

AWS CodePipeline is a fully managed continuous delivery service that helps you automate your release pipelines for fast and reliable application and infrastructure updates. CodePipeline automates the build, test, and deploy phases of your release process every time there is a code change, based on the release model you define.

Complementing CodePipeline, AWS CodeBuild is a fully managed build service that compiles source code, runs tests, and produces software packages that are ready to deploy. With CodeBuild, you don't need to provision, manage, and scale your own build servers. CodeBuild scales continuously and processes multiple builds concurrently, so your builds are not left waiting in a queue.

Use AWS CloudWatch to Monitoring Microservices Performance

Monitoring is a vital part of maintaining a robust microservices environment. AWS CloudWatch provides a reliable, scalable, and flexible monitoring solution for your microservices on AWS.

AWS CloudWatch provides data and actionable insights to monitor your applications, understand and respond to system-wide performance changes, optimize resource utilization, and get a unified view of operational health. It collects and tracks metrics, collects and monitors log files, and responds to system-wide performance changes.

With CloudWatch, you can collect and access all your performance and operational data in the form of logs and metrics from a single platform. This makes it easy to view and analyze data, set alarms, troubleshoot issues, and discover insights to keep your applications running smoothly.

Use Auto-Scaling to Manage Changes in Demand

The ability to scale resources up or down based on demand is one of the major benefits of deploying microservices on AWS. Auto-scaling is a method used to automatically adjust the amount of computational resources that are being assigned to a server, based on the actual requirement at any given time.

With AWS Auto Scaling, your applications can maintain peak performance at the lowest possible cost. AWS Auto Scaling monitors your applications and automatically adjusts capacity to maintain steady, predictable performance at the lowest possible cost.

In conclusion, deploying microservices on AWS can provide several benefits, including efficient intercommunication, robust security, automated deployment, comprehensive monitoring, and efficient scaling. However, to capitalize on these benefits, adhering to the best practices discussed in this article is essential. AWS provides a host of services that make managing microservices easier and more efficient, thereby enabling organizations to focus on their core business objectives.

Continue Learning