The human side of adopting the microservice architecture

Adopting the Microservice Architecture changes your architecture, your organization and your development processes. Ultimately, however, it changes the working environment of people, who are fundamentally emotional. Their emotions, if ignored, can make the adoption of microservices a bumpy ride.

The best selling book Managing Transitions by William and Susan Bridges introduces the concept of a transition, which is the process of how people respond emotionally to a change. It describes a three stage Transition Model:

  1. Ending, Losing, and Letting Go – the period of emotional upheaval and resistance when people are presented with a change that forces them out of their comfort zone. They often mourn the loss of the old way of doing things. For example, when people reorganize into cross-functional teams they miss their former team-mates. Similarly, a data modeling group, which owns the global data model, will be threatened by the idea of each service having its own data model.
  2. The Neutral Zone – the intermediate stage between the old and new ways of doing things where people are often confused. They are, often, struggling to learn the new way of doing things.
  3. The New Beginning – the final stage where people have enthusiastically embraced the new way of doing things and are starting to experience the benefits.

The book describes how best to manage each stage of the transition and increase the likelihood of successfully implementing the change. In order to successfully adopt microservices you must take into account the transition model and consider people’s emotions.

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