Dependency Management for Microservices

Dependency Management for Microservices

Managing dependencies for microservices is a great way to keep your application safe.

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Introduction

Microservices, also known as microservice architectures, are structures in which software is built and maintained in sections as services. Each section is testable and small and maintained by a small team.

Such architectures are great because they are easy to maintain. Additionally, given their small structure, they allow for flexible usage of technologies. With all those advantages, however, also comes a pitfall. Having to manually manage dependencies is a complex task.

In this article, you will learn all you need to know about why dependency management is a problem when it comes to microservice architectures and how to manage dependencies for microservices.

Problems with Managing Dependencies for Microservices

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They sometimes depend on another microservice to accomplish their tasks. For example, let's say we have two microservices, A and B—A handles authentication, and B handles the database for users. A and B will need to communicate regularly because the user data needs to be stored in a database after registration.

Suppose A is updated in a way that affects the transfer of data to B, and B hasn't been updated to accommodate A's update. In such a case, major issues can develop until B is updated to handle the changes in A. One must be aware of this possible drawback of microservice architecture before investing in it.

Another common issue faced when using microservice architectures is the following. Suppose you release an update to your software, and some services are using the new service while some are using the older version. You would have to start checking each of the services one after the other to see which service is using the older version of the software. One can only imagine how tedious that would be.

How to Manage Dependency for Microservices

As we have discussed above, managing dependencies can be complex. Furthermore, the more microservices you use, the more complex this task gets. To simplify this process, one can follow some simple guidelines that make managing dependencies easier. Given below are some tips and tricks to managing dependencies for microservices.

Each Microservice Must Have Its Own Workflow

When managing multiple services, each microservice should have its own workflow, i.e., for every microservice, there should be a corresponding test, container, production pipeline, etc., for that particular microservice. This is important because one can easily identify issues by seeing which microservice build or release breaks, thanks to the isolated workflows. You can determine where the problem is by looking at the tests or if there was a problem in the build or deployment.

Another advantage of using isolated workflows for each microservice is that it enables each microservice to work independently and scale faster.

Track Your Software Changes

Every time a microservice is updated, a new version of your software is created. Without tracking changes, it will be almost impossible to follow up on those changes and update the microservices as required. Therefore, tracking the changes in the build of the current version of your software and differences in each microservice are very essential.

Tracking is essential because it serves as a log from where we are able to figure out how much impact a change has on the software and other microservices. It shows you the differences between each version of the software and also identifies if the software consumes an older version of a microservice. All this analysis can be done through tracking.

Automate Dependency Management

Microservices automation can be helpful because each microservice can have many dependencies depending on how big the microservice is. Trying to manage and update those dependencies manually is time-consuming and not scalable. Automating dependency management can solve that problem.

An option for doing such automation is to use WhiteSource Renovate. Renovate supports automerging, which means that when a dependency needs to be updated, the update is made and merged into the repository. Here, the management of dependencies is done entirely by Renovate, which is why I feel it is the best option. Another option is dependabot, which is automatically attached to your project when your code is pushed to GitHub. The problem with dependabot is that it does not support automerging, which means that when a dependency needs to be updated, you are alerted by dependabot. Then, you have to update each dependency manually.

Conclusion

Today, most of the software industry is adopting microservice architectures. As microservices become more and more popular, it is becoming crucial to understand them better. Every developer must be aware of what microservices are and how they work.

Managing dependencies is one of the disadvantages of adopting a microservice architecture and, in this article, we have discussed the various ways you can bypass this hurdle. The solutions listed above may not be the only options that can be used to manage dependencies, but they will take you along the right path.

Cover Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

 
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