Microservices and Cloud 2.0: What You Need to Know

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Microservices and Cloud 2.0: What You Need to Know

By Joe Skorupa - 03/18/2019

Phase one of retail’s cloud revolution is well underway, but even as it gains momentum a second phase is emerging that will transform software architecture, platforms and infrastructure. Here’s what you need to know.

Even the most conservative retailers have been finally convinced that myriad benefits are possible when using a Software as a Service (SaaS) model and replacing internal data warehouses with third-party data centers in the cloud.

However, a new phase of the cloud revolution is ramping up among leading-edge retailers and vendors, one that will deliver a broader range of benefits. The second phase is centered on microservices architecture and a recently published RIS Targeted Research report examines what it means for retail and why it matters.

Microservices: What You Need to Know

While microservices architecture is relatively new in retail, it has been heavily used by Netflix and Amazon for nearly 10 years. Other early adopters include Walmart, Ebay, Gilt, Zalando, Twitter and Nordstrom, according to widely available reports.

Microservices architecture is a web/cloud-based approach for creating loosely coupled functions (services) that are used within the retail enterprise. It is a standards-based approach that differs from current monolithic or traditional SOA models by decomposing (decentralizing) applications into fine-grained, lightweight, independent services.

"Benefits of microservices architecture are modularity for easy-on and easy-off capability, fast development and testing, flexible scalability, continuous delivery of updates, and decentralizing or decoupling of complex applications into smaller units (services)."

SaaS vendors like to say there is nothing new about microservices architecture, but the truth is retailers aren’t familiar with it because their tech stacks are dominated by on-premises, licensed software. Microservices architecture is a next phase development that offers significant solutions to current retail problems.

A few of the most important benefits of microservices architecture are modularity for easy-on and easy-off capability, fast development and testing, flexible scalability, continuous delivery of updates, and decentralizing or decoupling of complex applications into smaller units (services).

Key Takeaways from the Report

  • A majority of retailers today are on the lowest levels of the learning curve when it comes to microservices – 36% say their personal knowledge is basic or rudimentary and 27% say they are involved with active learning.
  • However, a sizable group (46%) have moved up from the lowest steps on the maturity ladder. This group consists of 14% who are involved with trial experimentation in a test environment, 23% who are involved with development and/or deployment, and 9% who are actively investing in advanced platform development.
  • A sizable 54% say microservices are important and worthy of active learning and experimentation (27%) and another 27% who say it is somewhat important and worthy of early stage learning and gathering information.
  • A surprising finding in the study is that a majority of retailers plan to begin investing and/or developing microservices within 12 months. Nearly a third (32%), say they have already begun investing and developing microservices and 27% say they will begin within a year.
  • The top two benefits retailers expect to achieve through adoption of microservices architecture are greater flexibility to add new functions/services (easy on, easy off due their lightweight and independent structure), which was chosen by 64%, and greater ease of creating web and mobile apps for enterprise applications (45%).

Microservices architecture holds the promise of a broad range of benefits that will transform today’s retail tech stacks. Although it is still early, there is a sizable group of retailers who are already involved in trial experimentation and platform development and another large group say they will begin investing in microservices architecture within a year.

To read the full report and see the full set of charts and analysis, click here.

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