Your Microservices Effort Will Fail Just Like Your API And SOA Initiatives

You are full steam ahead with your microservices campaign. You’ve read Martin Fowlers blog post, and talked about the topic with your team for the last six months. After a couple pilot projects, you are diving in, and have started decoupling the monolith of systems that you depend on to operate your business each day. You have mapped out all the technical details of all code, and backend systems in play, and have targeted about 30% of existing systems for reworking using a microservices strategy. Yet, despite all your planning, your microservices effort will still fail just like your API efforts, and its predecessor the SOA initiative did.

Despite all your research, planning, and eye for the technical detail in about 7 months everything will begin to slow, and by month 10 you will begin to get very, very frustrated. You see, you haven’t included any of the human element in your planning. You have thought about the business, cultural, legal, financial, and other non-technical aspects of operating your systems. You’ve done a fine job of developing a strategy for decoupling your monolith database, but you haven’t invested any time in what it will take to educate and bring up to speed all the business users, support, QA, and other folks you will need to have up to speed to actually make all this work. You are so blinded by technological trends, you forget to spend time talking to the people.

You are feeling good right now because you have surrounded yourself with yes men. People who are in perfect alignment with what you are doing. They think like you, and have drank the same kool-aid. However, once you start implementing your grand strategy to make every smaller, more micro, you will begin to see friction. Sales folks will begin to see you as a threat as you fragment their landscape, and be seen as taking a piece of their action. Business users will begin to freak out, because while they had to battle with IT before to get access to resources, now they have deal with man many smaller teams, with even more unfriendly people to talk with–you just increased the scope of what they need to know. Many will see your work as just increasing complexity, and expanding the landscape of their work, in an already hectic world. As this perception increases they will find ways to throw a monkey wrench into your finely tuned plan.

Your SOA rollout failed because it was to heavy handed, dictated everything, giving vendors too strong of a voice, while also strengthening IT too much in the eyes of business groups. Your API efforts underestimated the fatigue management and businesses users experience from SOA, and your team never really believed in API anyways–they just thought it was a fad, trend, and pipe dream. Now your team is sold on it being all about offering up smaller services, and you are paying lip service to fact that “service” should be including more than just the technical, but you actually haven’t done the heavy lifting. You don’t have your training, support, documentation, QA, testing, discovery, terms of service, security and other critical aspects of each service in place, let alone the comprehensive view of how this works across the thousands of microservices you are planning. Let’s get real, your microservices plan will fail just like API, and SOA. You are just too in love with the technical, and willfully blind to the human side of all of this to ever make it work.

Note: If my writing is a little dark this week, here is a little explainer–don’t worry, things will back to normal at API Evangelist soon.