Evolving Messaging For Microservices: A Retrospective from Building Workiva’s Messaging Platform

Workiva’s original product — supporting the mundane task of filing documents with the SEC — was so innovative that within its first 5 years it was being used by more than 65 percent of the Fortune 500 and generating more than $100 million in annual revenue. During that explosion in growth, the software development team focused solely on supporting and expanding the existing software stack. However, after several years of growth and expansion maintaining and extending that single code base became unsustainable. [Read More]

Ordered Messaging in an Unordered World

At Workiva, we’ve been using NATS to provide a highly-available, scalable message delivery service. The tradeoff for having these properties is that there are restrictions on the order in which messages are received by subscribers. NATS delivers messages from a single publisher in the order in which they were published. However, once you introduce multiple publishers, no such guarantees exist. Furthermore, even if messages are successfully delivered, they may not be successfully processed — if a subscriber fails to process a message correctly when it was sent, it may become out-of-order after retrying. [Read More]

Publish-Subscribe Messaging Using Amazon SQS

Amazon’s Simple Queue Service (SQS) provides durable messaging guarantees and is an excellent backbone for messaging services. However, SQS does not support “fan-out” of messages so that multiple consuming services can each receive a copy of a message. This means that true publish-subscribe messaging requires some additional work. This post describes some architectural choices that provide durable publish-subscribe messaging using SQS by tracking messaging subscribers using a database, and matching published messages to interested subscribers. [Read More]

0 to Message in 60 Seconds: Getting Started with Amazon SQS

Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) is a message queue service that allows applications to reliably queue messages from one system component to be consumed by another component. Adding a queue between application components allows them to run independently, effectively decoupling applications by providing a buffer between producers of data and their consumers. Up and Running This section provides a guide to getting up and running with SQS using a fictional music store as an example. [Read More]

Integrating Applications: From RPC to Messaging

When integrating two independent services you have two options: making a remote procedure call (RPC), or sending a message. Which should you choose? What is a Remote Procedure Call? An organization often needs to share data and processes between multiple independent processes in a responsive way. For example, updating a user’s name in a shipping system may trigger updates in a billing system. The shipping system could update the billing system’s data directly by modifying a shared database, but this approach requires the shipping system to know far too much about the internal processes of the billing system. [Read More]

Integrating Applications

A big portion of any software engineering revolves around integrating multiple, disparate applications into a cohesive and functional whole. These apps may be built in house or third-party, or they may run on your network or distributed geographically, or they may be microservices designed to integrate. In any of these cases, you have several different options for integration, each with pros and cons. The integration patterns listed here are ordered by least to most sophisticated, but also by least to most complex. [Read More]

The Problem with Point to Point Communication

Point-to-point communication between servers usually works just fine when one or two instances are communicating. One or two instances communicating However, if you increase the number of applications, the total number of connections increases. Three instances communicating In fact, the total number of connections increases as a square of the number of application instances. So, if you are running 100 instances, you will be maintaining O(100^2) connections. [Read More]