Sidecar solutions: Enhancing microservices without the overhead

Published by Alex Olivier on August 31, 2023
Sidecar solutions: Enhancing microservices without the overhead

The full article was first available on Cloud Native Now - read it here.

Having worn the architect hat at numerous companies, I’m no stranger to the allure of microservices; this is the architecture that is designed to solve everything from scaling to isolation and compartmentalization. However, if we cut through the technical jargon and strip it down, scaling microservices and container-based architectures is about as straightforward as building an IKEA flat-pack wardrobe with no instructions. It’s a challenge, but for certain types of functionality such as logging, authentication and authorization, the sidecar pattern promises to solve our problems with a touch of ‘added functionality’ magic.

The sidecar pattern, in simple terms, is like having a helpful co-pilot for your primary service. This design approach allows you to add functionalities without having to mess with the primary service’s codebase. It sounds attractive, sure, but is it all sunshine and roses? Here are some thoughts.

Considerations before adopting sidecars

You wouldn’t take off without a pre-flight check, right? Similarly, don’t launch blindly into adopting sidecars without considering the ramifications. Think about the added complexity, potential performance bottlenecks and the need for experienced personnel to manage them.

Mastering complexity and resource management

This is where your ability to manage with finesse shines. Implementing sidecars successfully involves smart resource distribution, effective monitoring, and careful planning. It’s a tightrope walk, but the rewards can be fruitful when you get the balance right.

Walking the tightrope: primary service vs. sidecar

This is the million-dollar question; it’s another balancing act. Incorporating functionality directly into a primary service may result in bulky, challenging-to-maintain services. Conversely, overloading with sidecars might turn your architecture into a container jamboree. Make choices based on your unique needs.

Dodging performance bottlenecks

Effective isolation is the magic phrase here. Don’t allow your sidecars to hog resources. Put monitoring measures in place to make sure they’re not hogging the spotlight (or the CPU cycles) from your main services.

Learning from success stories

Big tech companies like Google and Netflix have effectively employed the sidecar pattern. The takeaway? It’s about using sidecars as a scalpel, not a sledgehammer, to address specific challenges such as load balancing or inter-service communication.

Seamless deployment and updates

Think of the sidecar pattern as a precision-engineered mechanism requiring a smooth deployment and update strategy. Automatic deployments, container orchestration tools and a robust rollback strategy can minimize disruption and ensure seamless functioning.

Gazing into the crystal ball: future trends

With the advent of service mesh and serverless architectures, the sidecar pattern is becoming increasingly relevant. Keep your finger on the pulse of these trends to discover innovative ways to use sidecars effectively.

Assessing performance and impact

Finally, don’t neglect to measure your sidecars’ effects. Leverage telemetry data to inspire continuous improvement and adjust your architecture for peak performance; by doing so, you can effectively optimize your microservices setup to best serve your business needs.

In essence, the sidecar pattern is not a magic bullet. It’s a tool, a potentially powerful one when used right. As with any tool, it’s crucial to understand when, where and how to use it for maximum benefit. So, the next time you’re wrestling with microservices or container-based architecture, remember the sidecar pattern. It might just be the co-pilot you need.

The full article was first available on Cloud Native Now - read it here.


Book a free Policy Workshop to discuss your requirements and get your first policy written by the Cerbos team