In the software development market, it is common to find expressions such as microservices and APIS. Although they are different technologies, it is quite common for both to be misused, as if they were the same type of service.

We need to remember that the software development market is very competitive and every solution that makes it possible to increase productivity and competitive advantage must be considered. Thus, understanding exactly what it is and how each style of architecture or framework works helps to optimize results and boost your business profit.

If you still don't understand the difference between microservices and APIs , don't worry, the main questions on the subject will be answered below.

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What are microservices?

Microservices is a term that designates a new approach to architecture in software development, called microservices architecture. Also, it's a more contemporary approach to web services companies .

It is conceived by fragmenting the application into several smaller parts that will be executed with the same purpose. Thus, its popularity is precisely due to facilitating the process of software development, integration and maintenance .

Microservices allow a large application to be separated into smaller, independent parts, where each part has its own responsibility. In practice, to match a request from a user, the microservices-based application can activate many internal microservices to compose the demand response .

According to data from O'Relly , 92% of respondents indicated that they were successful in using microservices. In addition, 61% of them reported that they started using this architecture a little over a year ago, which reveals the trend of this practice.

The small services are developed to perform their functions autonomously, ensuring that the entire software structure is not compromised, in case one of them has a problem. Thus, they do not need to share code and communication between components takes place through specific APIs .

This microservices model allows us to employ different technologies more adaptably in a multiple framework.

Thus, a microservice can run in python to analyze specific data and, at the same time, can integrate another service running in C# for integration with the inventory environment , for example. In this way, each service uses its own set of technologies and has its own ways of handling its inputs and outputs.

Benefits of microservices

The structure in microservices brings several benefits to developers and companies that work with webservices. The main advantages of this model are:

1- Microservices and agility

Independent services allow the organization of smaller teams with independent functions, with autonomy to perform their tasks. In this way, faster software development cycles , which can happen in parallel.

2- Flexible scalability

The framework also makes it possible for each service to scale independently of everything else to meet application demands. With this, teams can accurately calculate the infrastructure need and cost of a resource, maintaining availability in high-demand episodes of a service.

3- Easy deployment

A microservices architecture also allows the integration of services and continuous delivery , enabling the implementation of new ideas, as well as the correction if it does not work as expected. In this way, this movement of trying and reversing can be carried out without harming the rest of the structure.

4- Technological freedom

The microservices framework still gives the development team freedom to choose the most appropriate tool to solve specific problems . With that, we have teams creating microservices with specific tools for each task.

5- Microservices and reusable code

The framework allows programmers to use code across services, as the team can use the same functions for multiple purposes . Thus, a service can be a component of another more complex one. This way, the team won't have to write code from scratch and this also contributes to the speed of tasks.

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6- Resilience

By having a fragmented and independent structure, microservices are more resistant to software failures. As already mentioned, if there is an error in one of the services, the others continue running and the application is not interrupted.  

And what is a monolithic architecture?

The microservices architecture is an alternative to the traditional monolithic architecture which, as the name suggests, is a software development model that creates services dependent on each other, in a single structure .

This links one service to another, and in this way, any failure can compromise the entire structure . In this model, it is also not so simple to experiment or add functions in a practical way, since it involves changing the entire structure, which is unique.

Although the microservices architecture proves to be more efficient and contributes to the reduction of failures for more complex structures, the monolithic architecture continues to be widely used in software construction.

However, the tendency is for microservices architecture to become more and more popular and start to gain space in the market , already being adopted by large companies such as Netflix and Spotify , which use such structures in their applications.

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What is the difference between microservices and API?

Having understood what microservices are, we will now understand what APIs (Applications protocol interface) are and, mainly, how they relate to microservices.

The API, or Application Programming Interface, designates the frameworks that guarantee the interaction of developers with an application on the internet. 

In practice, it is an interface for accessing and exchanging data from one point to another . They can be public (available with unrestricted access), private (used locally) , or partnership (shared between partner businesses).

In the microservices architecture, APIs act as the communication channel between different services . For example, authentication via social network, accessing maps or triggering weather services depend on APIs.

In this way, we can also allow access to external users by creating robust integrations and applications through APIs. We can say, therefore, that one of its objectives is to scale a software with another .

What role does API Gateway play in microservices?

The API Gateway, or gateway, has the function of facilitating the routing, monitoring and policy of access to microservices .

APIs of this nature are used for applications to access data, business logic or functionality from their backend services.

By using an API Gateway, the developer can create APIs that enable real-time, two-way communication applications. 

Another feature is that API Gateway serverless and containerized workloads , as well as web applications and the tasks involved in receiving and processing up to hundreds of thousands of concurrent API calls.

This also includes traffic management, support, authorization and access control, with controlled flow, monitoring and API version management.

Thus, it prevents exposure of internal concerns to external customers, ensures flexible security control, as well as large-scale cost savings. The Gateway also supports different communication protocols to interact, in addition to performance at any scale.

And what's the next step?

We saw in this material that Microservices are a solution for software development since they give developers more agility, flexibility and autonomy. 

Another point highlighted in the text is the performance and importance of APIs in the development of a microservices architecture . This is because they allow communication and data access between different microservices, internal or external.

This access must be monitored and, for this, we use the API Gateway that monitors and controls access to thousands of other APIs and microservices available.

Written by

Sky.One Team

This content was produced by SkyOne's team of cloud and digital transformation experts.