Imagine an online retail giant like Amazon. Imagine how it works at its peak. Each part of its ops is integrated. Product search. Payment processing. Logistics tracking. So much more. This delivers a smooth experience. It is agile and scalable. Complex apps are broken down into smaller services that talk to each other through APIs. This is possible due to microservices architecture.

This is now the standard for cutting edge development. Brands like Netflix, Microsoft and of course Amazon use it. They are growing with it.

Starting with microservices is one thing. Succeeding with it is quite another. Define ownership and accountability to resolve issues fast. The app needs to be resilient to failure.

Today in this blog, we will explore the details of microservices ownership. How is it linked to success in app development? What are ownership challenges? How do you address them? Read on…

The Importance of Ownership in Microservices

Microservices are small, separate parts of a tech system. Each points to a function. In Amazon, for instance, stock maintenance could be a microservice. This would be unique from logistics. Each team is in charge of one microservice. Ownership defines who is in charge of each.

Clear ownership shares the team for each service. This is key in crunch time.

Accountability and Decision-Making

Ownership in microservices defines the borders of responsibility. Which team is in charge of the tool that manages stock in the warehouse? Which is for stock on the road? It’s important to make it clear who is in charge of each microservice. This is helpful in some situations. For instance, teams may have to make informed decisions. Else, they may have to assign the owner only when a bug comes up.

Faster Issue Resolution and Development Cycles

Clear ownership grants fast issue resolution. It helps streamline troubleshooting. Let us say that an issue is spotted. The service owner can be contacted at once. They test and rectify the problem. Ownership gives all the teams confidence. It leads to a faster development cycle. It also brings self government. Teams can decide on feature updates.

Increased Team Motivation and Ownership Culture

Ownership resolves issues faster and boosts accountability. It also gives teams a sense of pride. It builds a culture where every team member is in charge of their own part. They can feel proud of the work they have done. This motivates team members to continually improve and innovate. It goes beyond mere task completion for the sake of their job.

What happens when ownership isn’t assigned clearly?

It is possible that assigning ownership might become complex as dependencies intertwine. Take our Amazon example. Consider the module for in-house stock maintenance. It could have elements that also deal with stock that’s on the road. Unclear ownership can impact the entire product. Here are some of the issues your team might face when it’s not assigned right.

Blame Games

Unclear ownership? This can mean team members do not take charge when things go wrong. Instead, they point fingers at each other. This leads to conflict and chaos at work. Other than team discord, it also wastes time and energy, without an effective resolution.

Delays in Resolutions

When there are no declared owners, issues remain unresolved. Every team member thinks someone else will take care of it. This leads to issues being missed. They remain unsettled for a long time. This hurts the user experience. With delay, these issues become fragmented and inefficient to fix.

Technical Debt Accumulation

Here’s another reason why unclear ownership is a problem. Errors or gaps may be missed during development. This results in rising technical debt. This then hits ongoing maintenance, optimization, and even app evolution.

Challenges in Assigning Microservice Ownership

Assigning ownership in a microservices architecture needs strategic planning. It has its challenges. But what are they?

Distributed Nature of Microservices

Each microservice is managed separately. This is a decentralized approach. It leads to fragmented codebases as the app is spread across services and teams.

You need a clear awareness of the entire system. It will let you assign ownership safely. This is complex. At times, there may be gaps. This doesn’t end here. As the product grows, more services are created. This makes the assignment of ownership more tough.

Evolving Ownership Needs Over Time

Microservices architecture keeps development agile and flexible. This speeds up the launch. It can lead to volatility in ownership too. This is because services are made and changed often.

As a result, ownerships shift over time. Maintaining them correctly is a challenge. Architecture may evolve. This can soon make ownership invalid.

Balancing Ownership with Team Collaboration

Here’s one more challenge. You need to set up paths for collaboration and knowledge sharing. Ownership is siloed by its nature. This is another challenge in microservices architecture. Teams need to work to find a delicate balance. This balances ownership, transparency and communication.

Different Ownership Models

Component Ownership

In this model, each service is assigned to a team. For example, one is fully in charge of the warehouse stock microservice. That means its development, maintenance, and its evolution too. In this way, the team gains a deep knowledge of the service. They learn how it works and operates.

Pros:

  • Full accountability of the service.
  • Domain expertise.
  • Better code quality and quick resolutions.
  • Easier scalability.
  • Total accountability.

Cons:

  • Siloed approach that breaks data flow with other teams.
  • Less flexibility as teams get fond of their modules and resist change.

Feature Ownership

This assigns ownership around a feature, not of a service. For example, think of the management of stock that has left the store. This enables a user centric approach to work together. Teams collaborate based on usage patterns. They are not restricted by the bounds of each service.

Pros:

  • Total view of each function. Service owners work across services to stay consistent.
  • Good team collaboration.
  • Redefined ownership. Results in flexibility and adaptability.

Cons:

  • Complex ownership. Features need to be changed across services.
  • Overlapped boundaries of ownership. This can lead to conflict.

Shared Ownership

As the name implies! This model shares ownership across multiple teams. Each team then takes collective responsibility for the development. These teams could create both modules. They would handle all stock, in and out of the warehouse.

Pros:

  • Knowledge sharing environment.
  • Collective success.
  • Resilience against failure. There are multiple layers of expertise.

Cons:

  • No clear accountability in case of issues or gaps.
  • Hard to communicate clearly in large teams.
  • Decision making challenges. This is due to lack of centralization.

Implementing Strategies for Effective Ownership

Define Clear Ownership Boundaries

Map out the architecture. Define boundaries for each service. Take a note of the teams in charge of each. It’s a good idea to document ownership duties. This would include escalation procedures and channels. Ensure that this information can be read by all team members.

Foster a Culture of Collaboration

Create an environment where team members feel eager to collaborate. Meetings can be planned to do so. Teams can talk about issues related to ownership. They can create ways and means to share ideas.

Establish Ownership Rotation Plans

Rotation of ownership helps. It empowers team members. They learn about different parts of the system. This prevents the formation of silos. Different team members act as owners of each service and feature at different times. It helps to support new members with mentors and resources. The new members may need help as they transition into new roles.

Implement Monitoring and Alerting Mechanisms

Employ monitoring tools. The teams can track the microservices in real time. Alert owners about potential issues at once. This lets them move proactively. They can take needed action to fix these problems.

Teams should have an issue response plan in place. They should know the steps that they should take in the case of gaps. For this plan too, roles and duties should be defined.

Use tools like Swagger and OpenAPI. This helps document APIs and services in use. For tracking, tools like Jira, Confluence, or custom-built dashboards can be used.

Observability tools like Prometheus, Grafana, or Datadog help the performance of microservices. They let you remedy issues in real time.

In the world of microservices, ownership isn’t a one-time exercise. It’s a journey. As the business evolves, its needs change. Ownership needs change too. Organizations have to adopt approaches and tactics to guide them through changing needs. This way you can maintain the agility and flexibility that come with microservices.

At Ziffity, our experts work with teams of all sizes. We help you manage your microservices as well as their ownership and accountability structures. So, if you plan to switch from monolith to microservice architecture, we’d love to help. Get in touch with us today.