What Do Microservices Mean for MSPs?

Microservices are creating new challenges and opportunities for MSPs. Here's what MSPs should do to their managed IT services operations to adapt to a microservices-oriented world.

Christopher Tozzi, Contributing Editor

January 23, 2018

2 Min Read
Company employees working in software development and designer office

“Microservices” is not just a buzzword (although it is that). It’s a new approach to application design and deployment, which has important ramifications for people who manage and deploy software—including MSPs. Here’s what microservices mean for the managed services business.

In a nutshell, microservices refers to an approach to application architecture wherein applications are broken into multiple discrete parts.

The goal of microservices architectures is to make applications modular. With modularity comes easier management and scalability.

You can read more about what microservices mean and why they’re valuable here.

Microservices and Managed Services

If you work in the managed IT services business, the microservices trend could have consequences for the way you run your MSP operation.

They include:

  • Demand for greater agility. Part of the purpose of microservices is to make applications more scalable and agile. In this respect, microservices place new pressures upon MSPs to deliver fast-moving, agile service.

  • New security challenges. Microservices provide security benefits because they make it easier to minimize attack services and isolate intrusions. At the same time, however, microservices complicate security monitoring. There are many more moving pieces in a microservices application. MSPs’ monitoring tools and strategies need to be updated to handle the additional complexity.

  • Managing application performance. Maintaining uptime and responding to software performance problems is also more complicated in a microservices environment because there are more moving parts. When you’re supporting microservices, you can’t focus just on a single application. You need to adapt monitoring and support strategies to handle individual microservices.

  • New technologies. The microservices revolution has bred a host of new technologies for deploying and managed microservices-based applications. Examples include Docker, Swarm and Kubernetes, to name just a few. Even if you don’t use these technologies directly, you should educate yourself about them so you’ll understand how they impact your MSP business and your customers.

  • New management strategies. Microservices, along with the technologies used to implement them, are helping to usher in new approaches to software deployment and management. For example, containers enable immutable infrastructure architectures. Under the immutable infrastructure model, instances of an application are destroyed and replaced whenever anything needs to be updated. MSPs should be prepared to support new deployment strategies such as this.

In short, even if you don’t develop microservices applications, or even support them directly, the microservices revolution likely has an impact on your MSP operation. At a minimum, MSPs should learn about the new technologies that have arisen to accommodate microservices. In some cases, they may need to do more.

Microservices are not likely to go away. Like the cloud, they’re a new paradigm that has broad ramifications for the way software of all types is designed, written, deployed and managed.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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