Microservices, data strategy, and data fragmentation – interview on InfoQ

At QCon London 2015, InfoQ interviewed Matthew Skelton, Co-founder of Skelton Thatcher Consulting, about Continuous Delivery, DevOps, microservices, tools, and teams. Here is an excerpt from the part of the interview on InfoQ covering microservices and data strategy:

InfoQ-Matthew-Skelton-interview

Question: … talking about microservices and containers, and particularly Docker, they are all the hype these days. What’s the impact do you think in terms of both continuous delivery? … So what is your view on the impact of these new trends?

One of the impacts of microservices is going to be the increased need for skills and capabilities within teams of treating monitoring and metrics as a really first class thing because without the ability to interrogate services or to discover new end points, this kind of thing, teams will get to the point where they don’t really know what’s going on. There’s a danger there. So yeah, an increased focus on monitoring and metrics is going to be essential to make that stuff work.

I think the additional piece which not many people are really talking about now is what happens to data and with data stores sort of fragmenting with microservices. I’m not saying microservices are wrong. They’re an optimization for deployability which is fine, making changes quickly. But there’s a danger I think that we’ll see data fragmentation. And in the past data architects or people involved in data structure, they have been able to rely on all of the data being in a single database, using relational database which are easy to query, and now we’re moving towards a world where the data is more distributed. I think that’s going to be a real challenge for some companies. I don’t think we’ve seen the patterns of microservices for long enough to have any problems in production. I don’t think anyone has seen those kinds of problems here.

fragmented data
Data Fragmentation – Copyright (c) 2015 Skelton Thatcher Consulting Ltd

Question: That actually brings me to the next question which was the fact that, as you said, microservices might require to have more robust or more complex data architectures and more fragmentation, as you said. Do you have any recommendations to deal with that, how would you go about doing that?

I have not seen any tools really in this space yet, certainly not outside enterprise tools. At a simple level, I think organizations should be aware of that as a problem, that data fragmentation is a problem. Make sure someone actually has a handle on the data strategy so they know the kind of things they need to think about. In the worst case, you have two teams building different parts of the system and both start to track customer ID, for example, in two separate databases, two separate data stores, so which is now the definitive list of customers for our organization? Does it matter? It might not matter. But if it matters, then there’s the potential, that kind of conceptual integrity problem for the data there. That’s something I am quite interested in this area.

Read the rest of the InfoQ interview here: http://www.infoq.com/interviews/matthew-skelton-qcon-2015

Skelton Thatcher Consulting specialises in helping organisations to change their technology and teams for the cloud by adopting new practices and approaches such as microservices and Continuous Delivery. Contact us for help with your data strategy, team architecture, or microservices adoption: enquiries@skeltonthatcher.com or +44 (0)20 8242 4103.

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