Chapter 5. Events: A Basis for Collaboration

Service-based architectures, like microservices or SOA, are commonly built with synchronous request-response protocols. This approach is very natural. It is, after all, the way we write programs: we make calls to other code modules, await a response, and continue. It also fits closely with a lot of use cases we see each day: front-facing websites where users hit buttons and expect things to happen, then return.

But when we step into a world of many independent services, things start to change. As the number of services grows gradually, the web of synchronous interactions grows with them. Previously benign availability issues start to trigger far more widespread outages. Our ops engineers often end up as reluctant detectives, playing out distributed murder mysteries as they frantically run from service to service, piecing together snippets of secondhand information. (Who said what, to whom, and when?)

This is a well-known problem, and there are a number of solutions. One is to ensure each individual service has a significantly higher SLA than your system as a whole. Google provides a protocol for doing this. An alternative is to simply break down the synchronous ties that bind services together using (a) asynchronicity and (b) a message broker as an intermediary.

Say you are working in online retail. You would probably find that synchronous interfaces like getImage() or processOrder()—calls that expect an immediate response—feel natural ...

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