What you need to know about microservices

New application development trends like microservices are sweeping into popularity, bringing new opportunities and challenges with them

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a shoppers’ delight and many retailers’ busiest time of the year. For Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), which owns and operates Lord & Taylor, Saks 5th Avenue and several other brands, last year’s holiday rush turned out to be the perfect time to try out new web site features.

HBC uses a fairly typical Oracle WebLogic application server and an ecommerce platform named Blue Martini from RedPrairie. Basically the stack has been developed and refined over the years. It worked but it was “hard to deploy to, hard to change and … hard to upgrade,” said Matthew Pick, who manages an infrastructure engineering team at HBC and spoke about the company’s digital transformation at a conference hosted by cloud vendor Joyent earlier this year.

So HBC engineers started to explore how they could address these issues. Microservices and containers turned out to be the answer.

Pick and the engineering team chose the Product Detail Page (PDP) as a first place to start their replatforming project. The PDP is a piece of the ecommerce app that houses product descriptions and images. Instead of the PDP being embedded in the app, HBC developers broke it up into 12 separate microservices, each one hosted in application containers (one loads the image, another serves the text, etc.).

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