This Is How Microservices Testing Can Help You Manage Chaos

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Microservices have been in vogue since the term was first coined back in 2011. Microservices architecture is alleviating businesses worldwide from their woes and worries of managing massive software applications. These monolithic applications were highly restrictive in terms of scalability, technology stack and framework, and maintenance. A minor change in one part required the whole application to undergo deployment. Redeploying an entire application for a slight change is both cumbersome as well as expensive. As a result, more and more organizations are breaking down their monolith software architecture into smaller, manageable microservices. So much so that experts predict microservices to become the default architectural style in the coming years.

As defined by Martin Fowler, “The Microservices architectural style is an approach to developing a single application as a suit of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms, often an HTTP resource API. These services are built around business capabilities and independently deployable by fully automated deployment machinery. There is a bare minimum of centralized management of these services, which may be written in different programming languages and use different data storage technologies.”

In a microservices architecture, services are loosely coupled and cohesive. Each unit has the liberty to choose its own programming language and technology stack for the sake of the feature or product it is developing. All of these individual units using different programming languages and framework also have their own, independent runtime.

While the benefits of a microservices architecture are vast, the challenges are no less. The biggest challenge is aggregation of all the individual products or services and their integration with one another. As Sam Newman points out, “Getting integration right is the single most important aspect of the technology associated with microservices in my opinion. Do it well, and your microservices retain their autonomy, allowing you to change and release them independent of the whole. Get it wrong, and disaster awaits.”

For such a diverse architecture, testing on a common framework is not feasible. The several moving parts and ephemerals within such an architecture create monitoring difficulties, consequently leading to increased complexities and overhead expenses. If monolith applications presented the setback of snail pace and heavy protocols, microservices present the quandary of communication gaps and uncoordinated movement.

When we talk about testing microservices, the strategy should involve both technical as well as business standpoint to be successful. Let us discuss how microservices testing can help mitigate chaos that might ensue due to communication latency, expensive tracing, and high infrastructural complexities:

Take a multi-tier testing approach

Given the numerous ephemerals within a microservices architecture, it is not practical, or even possible, to test all of them on a common framework. The single test framework that was used for the monolith applications does not stand valid for the individual, smaller service units. This is because, the single-tiered monoliths run as a single process in the production environment. On the other hand, each microservice has its own individual run time, thus, demanding a break-down of the testing framework as well.

Initially, it was believed that a microservices architecture will significantly reduce the need for regression testing. However, testing at every stage, after each code change, is still very critical. It has just become less tedious and more manageable with microservices. Taking a multi-tiered approach in testing, as against the single-tier test strategy, yields better and more efficient test results:

  • Unit testing: This involves checking of all the individual units in a software to see if they are behaving the way they are supposed to. Unit testing helps breaking down test suites into smaller fragments and faster turnarounds.
  • Integration testing: This level is to check how the individual units behave with each other. It helps in detection of interface defects by verifying the communication channels and interactions between the units.
  • Component testing: Isolating a service component for test runs provide faster results under a controlled testing environment. Any error cases are detected using component testing. It also helps businesses look at the developed service from the perspective of potential customers.
  • Contract testing: This is like analyzing a component against a set benchmark of expectations. Contract testing verifies the inputs and outputs of a service call from a customer’s standpoint.
  • End-to-end testing: This level of testing extends to the entire architecture, involving all the microservices. End-to-end testing takes both business as well as technical requirements into perspective. It ensures that the complete system, as a whole, is working in tandem with the internal requirements as well as the external business requirements and objectives.

Decentralize governance and data management

Sam Newman puts it aptly when he said, “Remember when we talked about the core principles behind good microservices? Strong cohesion and loose coupling — with database integration, we lose both things.”

When we are breaking down the software applications, services, and products, why should there be an integrated database?

Consolidated databases take away the freedom from individual microservices to update and modify the databases as per their needs. This goes against the spirit of an encapsulated architectural design. Just like the microservices, databases should be encapsulated as well.

Similarly, for successful development and deployment microservices, it is imperative that there is minimum friction among processes. Each microservice should be accountable for developing as well as maintaining the service that it has deployed. This facilitates both speed and efficiency.

In Conclusion

Microservices architecture is slowly taking the default status for software development. If the shift from monoliths to microservices is not planned and executed meticulously, there can be disastrous consequences. In this architectural design, each microservice takes ownership and responsibility to contribute to the overall vision of an organization. Testing microservice applications help ensure that all the microservices, despite using distinct approaches, work towards a common goal.

At Cigniti, we cover all the bases and ensure that effective software testing is performed by the right set of experts. We ensure the best quality for your product and that your customers are happy. Our tool agnostic test automation frameworks ensure accelerated testing so that you get higher productivity and an enviable time to market. Connect with us today.


  • Cigniti Technologies

    Cigniti is the world’s leading AI & IP-led Digital Assurance and Digital Engineering services company with offices in India, the USA, Canada, the UK, the UAE, Australia, South Africa, the Czech Republic, and Singapore. We help companies accelerate their digital transformation journey across various stages of digital adoption and help them achieve market leadership.

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