Few things are static in technology. One can be guaranteed that what is hyped today may well be discarded or redirected tomorrow. Not necessarily the technology, itself, but how it ebbs and tides.
Aside from 5G, the Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX) is going to be the biggest redirector of technology. While 5G will change the way we communicate and function in a mobile environment, the IoX will change how we live.
Obviously, there are many components within the IoX. While we have a global view of how we envision the IoX is going to exist, many of these components are still fuzzy.
Take for example, a recent evolution of the services segment called microservices. Microservices are a new way for developers to develop software. Why this is significant is because the IoX is going to have difficulty supporting “bloatware.” This is, particularly, significant at the edge, where the mantra is light and nimble. Microservices, at the edge, could redefine the IoX, as we see it today.
Well, whoa there, podner! Microservices, at the edge, could redefine the Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX). There are, almost daily, announcements that claim this or that technology will revolutionize this or that platform or technology. Some have legs, others are just incubated concepts that sound good but have little substance to support their claim. Turns out this was propaganda from a Silicon Valley startup.
Not that microservices are not a valid concept. The concept is well developed and implemented in the cloud. The reason it is applicable to edge networks is because there will be a plethora of diverse, smart edge devices in the IoX, most of which will be too resource-limited to run the typical applications we use today. Moreover, they can be called to function in any number of systems. All of this making monolithic apps unworkable. The microservices concept is a way to address the nimbleness of edge networks and IoX devices in general.
The idea behind microservices is to cull out the various functions of monolithic software and use a modular approach to implement them. The monolithic application is decomposed into independent components called microservices. These will function like instruments in a band, able to deliver the application’s overall functionality when necessary. However, in the microservice environment, the applications are independent services small enough to reflect independent concerns from a variety of use cases. Each microservice implements a single function, specific to the use case. That parlays into an edge network that is agile and flexible, using only the services required for the particular job from an available pool of services.
An interesting, although not new, concept. The theory is that app developers can use whatever resources they need from that pool of services without impacting other microservices. Microservices also offer a smaller code footprint and faster boot times for typical, resource-limited, edge devices. If the edge is virtualized, re-use is another benefit.
One of the most promising features is security. Because microservices are so flexible, they can be configured to be called up in real-time, defined by device demand. This means that all code is not always running. Only necessary code. That allows unused functions to be unloaded and lie dormant. This keeps the live code to a minimum and reduces the attack surface. In addition, because microservices vary from device to device, a measure of isolation is also present.
This is one of those concepts that has many possibilities. It also has many angles that have to be considered. Moreover, while microservices are being used in other areas, porting that to edge computing may be more difficult. In a centralized location, microservices can be diverse and have access to heavy resources. At the edge, this may prove to be challenging because edge networks are geographically small and interconnected by a backbone. It is possible some sort of management layer will be needed to manage the deployment of such services, across edges, if there is a diverse IoX environment.
Microservices are typical of the new landscape. Just as software defined networks and network function virtualization are evolving to meet next-generation network needs, so will microservices. However, a lot is on the drawing boards at present. How this will all look, say, five to ten years from now may not necessarily resemble what we currently envision.
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, Lucent Technologies, , Qwest, City and County of Denver, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner. He is a senior/life member of the IEEE, the Press Liaison for the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and a member of the IEEE Communications Society, IEEE MTT Society, IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and the IEEE 5G Community. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio.