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.

Visiting the Principles of the Micro frontend Architecture

In the last blog, we discussed the role of Micro frontend architecture (MFA) in extending Domain-Driven Design to frontend development. We learned how Single Page Applications (SPAs) dynamically render specific portions of HTML pages every time client data is altered. The modern-day applications are complex and do not fly well with the frontend monoliths. Microfrontends are the silver bullet we need. Therefore, in continuation of our previous blog, let us now take the conversation towards the guiding principles of the Micro frontend architecture (MFA). In this article, we will try to understand the principles that govern the architecture for its numerous benefits.

Microfrontend Principles

  • Decentralized Architecture: Decentralization allows each Microfrontend unit to be treated solely for the objective it is meant to fulfill. This principle essentially paves way for vertical cuts. Centralized architecture is bound to be built on the same technology stack and similar level of expertise. That is why the decentralization principle is necessary for Microfrontend’s development, governance, data management, and performance.
  • Scalable Performance: The decentralized Microfrontend units can be easily planned for scalability levels. Scalability and performance go hand in hand. This principle allows MFA to plan its performance based on change in number of users. Scalable frontend promises:
    • Smart Capacity planning
    • Adaptiveness towards the traffic patterns i.e. number of application users at different points in a day
    • Quick identification of resource bottlenecks
  • Reusability: By definition itself, Microfrontends are independently deployable frontends. The principle of reusability is necessary to ensure that these frontends are small enough to be reused in more than one applications. This is like Microservices architecture but for the presentation layer.
  • Agility: There’s no point of introducing a whole new architecture for modern day application if it doesn’t follow the agility principle. Microfrontends units need to be developed and deployed faster without any compromise with their quality. This is of course achievable keeping in mind that the decentralization and reusability principle.
  • Flexible Ecosystem: The principle of flexibility can be deemed as the backbone of this architecture. Different teams work on different microfrontend units. Integration of these units will require them to adapt each other seamlessly. This is essential for intercommunications of the services they are meant for. This will also affect the overall performance of the frontend as a whole. Furthermore, any functional changes in a single unit should not bring down the whole frontend. In short, the MFA needs to be flexible for internal as well as external changes.
  • Failure Isolation: Here we take the principle of flexibility a step further. MFA should be capable of isolating the failure in one of the units with the rest of the system. This ensures what is called ‘Graceful Service Degradation’. The principle of failure isolation makes the architecture fault tolerant. This is Domain Driven Design being fool-proof.

Conclusion

The principles guiding the micro frontend architecture allow it to be – Agile for Development, easily maintainable, flexible in performance and cross functional. They are synonymous with the ones governing the microservices architecture; hence, domain driven. Microfrontends are meant to encourage the autonomy of development and flexibility of performance. In the next article, we will discuss in detail the benefits of this architecture that would in turn help how necessary they are for our applications.