Microservices – small, independent processes that can be written in multiple languages – are a perfect match for the cloud. And now, with SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory, SAP has created an infrastructure for these modular components.

It isn’t a big deal when Facebook or Amazon announces new releases. These companies update their software almost by the second and rarely build complex applications. Instead, they focus on microservices. Ideally, these small software components can be implemented across different apps.

Busy Supermarkets Open More Registers

Stephan Fester, innovation officer for SAP Customer Experience, compares the use of microservices by a company to a supermarket that suddenly has to serve a large number of customers at once.

“They don’t build a new supermarket next door,” he says. “They simply open up a few more registers to deal with the demand.” Microservices are like the registers in the supermarket: They are modular, universal, and ready for use in days, if not hours. They belong in today’s world, which calls for businesses to be agile and flexible.

From Virtualization to Container Technology

When VMW began developing virtualization technology, it took the first step toward applying the supermarket principle to software development. Today, microservices expert Marco Palladino refers to these virtual machines, which significantly increased scalability without needing extra servers, as a “game changer.” Businesses simply installed a virtualized infrastructure and were then able to leverage their capacity. This evolved further with the creation of containers for microservices.

“Containers allow us to run significantly more processes than we could on virtual machines,” Palladino writes in Kubernetes: The Future of Infrastructure. They enable resources to be used even more efficiently and can speed up microservice development. What’s more, they can be up and running within seconds.

Using Microservices for Pricing on Black Friday

SAP offers its customers a microservices concept through SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory that allows multiple apps to take advantage of and scale each microservice as needed. “Ultimately, it is about giving organizations source code that a variety of applications can use,” Fester explains.

In the same way that supermarkets can open more registers during busy periods, businesses can now bring in more containers, or instantiate them multiple times. On Black Friday, for example, when products can be purchased at very attractive prices, a microservice can be used for pricing as often as needed.

Microservices can give companies more flexibility. “Extensions can be programmed as before because microservices are separated,” says Fester. In the future, applications will no longer have to be fully tested as is usually the case with customized extensions for core applications. SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory help developers create extensions in the form of microservices that are event-driven. This prevents one-to-one integration and therefore increases the extension’s flexibility. Further, the existing services available in SAP software, such as SAP S/4HANA or SAP C/4HANA, are reused and can be combined with the services available on SAP Cloud Platform and those offered by other providers of value-added services. To facilitate this flexibility while maintaining a high level of IT security and integration, SAP developed SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory, which is based on the open source project Kyma.

Microservices Mean Flexibility in the Cloud

Another important advantage is that a business can extend its existing infrastructure using microservices without restricting the upgrade capability of its systems or questioning whether they will run. Fester believes that the microservices approach will give businesses that previously ruled out a standard system in the cloud the chance to change their minds. The new options for creating extensions using container technology mean that, in spite of a stable core, it is now possible to become much more flexible than before. Figuratively speaking, this can do more than just cut lines in supermarkets, but can reduce the effort associated with building new software as well.

Learn more about SAP Cloud Platform Extension Factory.