Integrate DevOps and Micro Frontends only if you can tackle these three challenges

A new age application demands a combination of Continuous Delivery and Scalability. Though, there are a few challenges to be taken care of.

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) don’t work well with Monolithic frontends. Consider a situation for your DevOps automation pipeline. A frontend developer writes the code for the application as fast as possible. They then run tests like linting, unit tests, integration tests, and other important checks. Finally, the code is deployed on the server and the overall application is updated. Assuming that all this work is done for Monolithic frontends, here are a few challenges that might arise:

  • Monolithic architecture discourages independent development. Frontend developers need to understand the whole architecture. This makes the development less suitable for automation.
  • The complexity of the highly coupled architecture further complicates the testing processes. This is not recommended for DevOps practices like Continuous Testing.
  • It doesn’t make sense to use a CI/CD pipeline for monolithic architecture. A continuous upgrade of the application’s frontend is difficult with the monolithic frontend. It can be complex and time-consuming

Therefore, the micro frontend architecture goes best with the DevOps pipeline. In this article, we will discuss why the combination of the two is highly recommended. We will also try to understand the challenges that an organization might face with this combo.

Micro frontends and DevOps: A recommended combo

DevOps practices are well capable of enabling automation for business agility. They integrate the principles defined in the agile manifesto, with the automation pipeline. However, the technology architectures employed by the organization also play an important role. Micro frontends are decoupled and domain-driven. Therefore, they work well with the CI/CD processes. Here are a few important benefits of including the micro frontend architecture (MFA) in the DevOps pipeline.

  • Scalable Development: The decoupled nature of micro frontend units helps them scale independently. In fact, one can also plan to scale the units that attract more end-user traffic than others. This makes the automation pipeline more flexible and customer-oriented.
  • Easy Deployment: DevOps is meant to promote agility. This requires necessary provisions to roll out newer versions regularly. With independent frontend units, this becomes easier. There is no need for the whole application frontend to be immediately affected by every upgrade.
  • Failure Resilience: Any issue or failure in a micro frontend unit only affects the end-user specifically consuming it. Even then, there are replicas present for these domains that can help to a great extent. This gives space for the CI/CD pipeline to deal with the failures and deploy patches.
  • Team Distribution: Team autonomy plays a crucial role in the automation of delivery processes. More interdependent the teams would be, more difficult it can be to define standard procedures for automation. With MFA, teams can be distributed with respect to the knowledge context they excel in. This makes development more technology agnostic.

Thus, CI/CD and independent frontend is a productive combination for the business. However, technology leaders need to be aware of a few challenges that they might face in the process.

Understanding the Challenges

Micro frontends are a fairly new concept. Hence, a little skepticism for them is understandable. Though, a little awareness of the actual challenges may be more helpful. This will allow the DevOps-MFA combo to flourish more. So, here’s the list.

  • Decision Making.  The micro frontend influencers have been sharing knowledge about the decision making process. However, a certain level of first-hand experience is always recommended. Organizations need to collaborate with consultants studying and working with this architecture. More knowledge, smoother will be the integration for CI/CD and MFA.
  • Updated with Automation. Although DevOps practices have been around for a while, yet their understanding might need a regular brush-up. Teams aware of updates about the cloud, virtualization, etc. can avoid unnecessary failures. Also, MFA can benefit more from newer automation practices and tools.
  • Valuable Integration. It is true, DevOps and Micro frontends are both here to stay for the long term. That said, rushing to incorporate them both might bring more damage than benefits. The current pressure to find new ways for customer-oriented deliveries can be exhausting. Therefore, this integration needs to be approached steadily and purposefully.

Conclusion

The combination of DevOps and Micro frontend architecture is the next logical step. The sooner the organizations are ready to adopt it, the better. That said, one cannot ignore the challenges that they might find in the way. Thoughtful planning can help organizations bring wholesome agility to their business.

Scaling E-Learning Platform to Serve 1 Million Concurrent Users – A Case Study

The client believed that with a few changes in place, their e-learning platform could serve a larger number of end-users. iauro collaborated to build a futuristic e-learning experience

What is the right technology to build a futuristic E-learning platform? Is there a scalable architecture that can help if, say, there is a sudden spike in the number of concurrent users because of a global crisis? How do iauro find a sustainable tech stack that will make the platform engaging and interactive for the students? Questions like these have been plaguing the edutech market for a while now. The pandemic is forcing the edutech leads to rummage through their technical resources for the answer. A right technology stack can help with the rising demand for online education platforms. iauro collaborated with an edutech client to work-out a platform that can deal with these challenges. The aim was to connect any number of keen students with the right educational resources. This case study about that e-learning platform will bring some hope in these chaotic times.

Challenges for Learning

By the means of their E-learning platform, our client had been offering study material in major cities of the country. They had a successful 20-year long journey in the education sector. Substantial experience in the sector enabled them to foresee any changes in market trends, and pivot accordingly. The client believed that a larger number of users could benefit from the personalized course material and smart mock-tests. They concluded that in order to do so, a few things needed to be in place

  • An architecture that can scale for a larger number of end-users. It should also be able to integrate regular updates without slowing down the performance
  • A user experience design that is engaging, interactive and yet lightweight
  • Provision to allow accessibility on mobile phones, tablets, and all such popular devices. Moreover, learning resources should also be available online. 

Incorporating these features in the platform would enable the client to serve a million end-users at a time. Their determination and iauro’s experience with edutech, collaborated to pave the way for what followed.

Building the Future Learning

iauro and the client discussed the client’s vision for the platform. Design Thinking helped iauro understand the need for the changes required and a suitable roadmap to make them happen. Post the ideation, iauro decided over the tools and technologies that could help us in this endeavor:

  • Microservices Architecture (MSA). For scalability, microservices architecture was possibly the best option available. It is domain-driven, agile, fast performing, failure resilient, and flexible. As the number of end-users would increase, the microservices would scale to serve them. Moreover, microservices are technology agnostic. Their intercommunication protocols are indifferent to the underlying technology. This was helpful for our domain experts to find the right technology combination for every service offered by the platform. With the help of MSA, iauro was able to build an improved platform faster.
  • Design Thinking. With the help of the Design Thinking approach, iauro was able to understand the pain points in terms of end-user experience. This helped with a total renovation of the platform interface and user experience design. The approach also helped us identify and suggest other possible changes including:
    • Database management
    • Cross-platform functionality
    • Infrastructure changes 

The aim was for the platform to be easier to handle for the young students benefiting from it.

  • Incorporating AWS. Amazon Web services are cost-effective, reliable, and secure. The database management for the platform was highly optimized by the cloud functionality. Because of its immense popularity and offerings, the use of AWS was also necessary to make the platform ready for global use in the future. Moreover, it would also help with the platform’s ability to be operated on a variety of devices.
  • Multiple devices and Offline. iauro revamped the platform to be functional on android devices, iOS devices, and Smart TVs as well. Moreover, the platform would also be able to allow offline downloading of course material. The learning resources were, therefore, readily available anytime.

The evolved platform was as good as new. It was now actually capable of serving a million concurrent users. Once again, the client found a way to pivot for future changes.

  • The platform can now scale to a much larger number of students on their android and iOS mobiles, tablets, and smart TVs.
  • With better scalability in place, the platform could also cater to a wider range of education curriculums and examination courses.
  • The offline download feature made learning resources more accessible and helpful.
  • A later collaboration with a telecom giant enabled the platform to be available on a set-top box as well.

A determination to serve education cannot and should not be hindered by technology. With the right expertise and vision, the client and iauro built a platform that is seamlessly working even during these uncertain times. More and more students are turning towards online learning, and our platform is ready to serve.