Making Modular Monoliths Work

Think Slices, not Layers

Microservices have become part of the software engineering cultural zeitgeist to the extent that alternative approaches to architecture and development are treated as somehow inferior. Given the challenges that running microservices present, I usually recommend beginning development of new projects and systems as a single deployable unit — the monolith. Sam Newman, in the book “Building Microservices”, agrees with this approach. He recommends leveraging microservices only if you can become convinced of the benefits for your system, not as a default for every project. [Read More]

Unpacking the eight fallacies of distributed computing

When building and running a system deployed as a monolith, we are able to make a certain set of assumptions about the behaviour of the overall application. One of the biggest assumptions we make is that the memory space for the application all resides on the same machine. With this model, function and library calls can assume that their view of the data structures for the application are accurate, and that you can retrieve or mutate that data immediately and deterministically (leaving the thornier issues of multi-threaded applications aside for a minute). [Read More]

Handling the rudder as an organization grows

In a shopping cart, the swivel wheels of the cart are set in the front, and the fixed wheels are set in the back. Now picture yourself pushing a shopping cart backwards. Almost naturally, you swivel the cart to move the front end to one side or the other before beginning to push the cart. Now picture yourself pushing a shopping cart backwards, on an ice rink. Here, the cart keeps sliding around even after you’ve stopped pushing it. [Read More]

The Cathedral, The Bazaar, and the API Marketplace

Is bazaar-style development valid for an API-first platform?

In The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Eric Raymond recounts the early years of Linux. Specifically questioning how the “part-time hacking of several thousands of developers scattered all over the planet” could create perhaps the most complex, functioning application in history. How could a “babbling bazaar of differing agendas and approaches” coalesce into a coherent and stable system without some form of centralized planning? The fact that this bazaar style seemed to work, and work well, came as a distinct shock. [Read More]
rest  api 

Marrying RESTful HTTP with Asynchronous and Event-Driven Services

Many organizations have multiple applications that are being built independently as a microservices-based platform. By its nature, a microservice platform is a distributed system running on multiple processes or services, across multiple servers or hosts. Building a successful platform on top of microservices requires integrating these disparate services and systems to produce a unified set of functionality. It is naïve to think that we can only choose one communication style to solve all problems; if integration needs were always the same, there would be only one style and we would all be happy with it. [Read More]

Running a Dapr Application on Kubernetes

With so many people running microservice workloads, it is inevitable that organizations keep bumping into the same set of problems: state management, resiliency, event-handling, and more. Dapr exists to help codify the best practices for building microservice applications into building blocks that enable you to build portable applications with the language and framework of your choice. Each building block is completely independent and you can use one, some, or all of them in your application to solve common microservice problems. [Read More]

Local Kubernetes Development with Tilt

In my last post I detailed how to setup a local Kubernetes development cluster using kind. This post shows how to leverage this new cluster when developing a system or application that relies on multiple microservices using tilt. If you haven’t setup your local environment with kind yet, refer back to my last post before continuing on. Installing Tilt You can install the tilt binary using Homebrew or through curl and an installation script: [Read More]

Local Kubernetes Development with kind

kind is a tool built for running local Kubernetes clusters using Docker containers as nodes. kind was primarily designed for testing Kubernetes itself, but it is actually quite useful for creating a Kubernetes environment for local development, QA, or CI/CD. This blog post shows you how to setup a kind-based environment for local development that can mimic a production Kubernetes environment. A fully functioning environment using kind includes a few different components. [Read More]

There and Back Again: The Unexpected Journey of a Request

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. Kubernetes and public cloud infrastructure introduce a few layers of abstraction between users and our services. This article unravels some of those layers to help understand what, exactly, happens between the time a user makes a request to a Kubernetes service running in AWS and when the user receives a response. It’s helpful to start by framing a request in terms of the network boundaries involved, so let’s start there. [Read More]


VoltDB is an in-memory database borne out of the H-Store research project spearheaded by Michael Stonebraker. Within that project, Michael started with the premise of building a fully transactional database with the best possible performance by using insights gathered from an in-depth study on database performance that completely removed disk access — the primary limiting factor on database performance. By removing disk access completely, we end up with a completely in-memory database where we can make additional optimizations like removing write-ahead logging, buffer management, and locks and latches. [Read More]