Related Topics: OpenStack Journal, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal, @DevOpsSummit

OpenStack Journal: Article

Microsegmentation or #Microservices | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #IoT #Docker

Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?

Microservices versus Microsegmentation

Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?

"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.

They are not.

One is about the application. The other, the network. There is a relationship, but it's a voluntary one. They are two very different things and we need to straighten out the misconceptions that are rapidly becoming common.


Microservices are the resulting set of services (mini applications, if you will) that arise from the process of decomposing an application into smaller pieces. If you take a monolithic application and segment it into many pieces, you end up with microservices. It is an application architecture; an approach to designing applications.

monolithic vs microservicesThis architectural approach has a significant impact on the network architecture, as it forces broader distribution of application-affine services like load balancing, caching and acceleration to be located closer to the individual service. Microservices as an approach is a forcing factor in the bifurcation of the network as it separates application-affine services from corporate-affine services.

Microservice architectures are beneficial in that they are highly efficient; it separates functional or object domains and thus lends itself well to a more targeted and efficient scalability model. It is particularly useful when designing APIs, as in addition to the scalability benefits it also localizes capabilities and enables isolated upgrades and new features without necessarily disrupting other services (and the teams developing other services). This lends itself well to agile methodologies while enabling a greater focus on API development as it relates to other services as well as the applications that will use the service.


Microsegmentation is about the network; to be precise, at the moment it's about the security functions in the network and where they reside. It's a network architecture that, like microservices, breaks up a monolithic approach to something (in this case security) and distributes it into multiple services. You could say that microsegmentation is micro-security-services, in that it decomposes a security policy into multiple, focused security policies and distributes them in an resource-affine manner. That is, security policies peculiar to an application are physically located closer to that application, rather than at the edge of the network as part of a grandiose, corporate policy.

This approach, while initially focusing on security, can be applied to other services as well. As noted above, a result of a microservice approach to applications the network naturally bifurcates and application-affine services (like security) move closer to the application. Which is kind of what microsegmentation is all about; smaller, distributed "segments" of security (and other application-affine services like load balancing and caching) logically deployed close to the application.

Thus, if there is any relationship between the two approaches, it is that microservices tend to create an environment in which microsegmentation occurs.


There are other reasons for microsegmentation, including the reality that the scale required at the edge to support every application-specific service is simply pushing IT to the edge of its wits (pun only somewhat intended). The other driving factor (or maybe it's a benefit?) is that of service isolation, which provides for fewer disruptions in the event of changes occurring in a single service. For example, a change to the core firewall is considered potentially highly disruptive because if it goes wrong, every thing breaks. Changing the firewall rules on a localized, isolated service responsible for serving two or three applications, has a much lower rate of disruption should something go wrong.

This is highly desirable in a complex environment  in which stability is as important as agility.


In a nutshell, microservices are to applications what microsegmentation is to network services. Both are about decomposing a monolithic architecture into its core components and distributing them topologically in a way that enables more scalable, secure and isolated domains of control.

The thing to remember is that just because dev has decided to leverage microservices does not in turn mean that the network somehow magically becomes microsegmented or that if microsegmentation is used to optimize the network service architecture that suddenly apps become microservices. Microsegmentation can be used to logically isolate monolithic applications as easily as it can microservices.

Either approach can be used independently of one another, although best practices in networking seem to indicate that if dev decides to go with microservices, microsegmentation is not going to be far behind. But the use of microsegmentation in the network does not mean dev is going to go all in with microservices.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

Latest Stories
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Niagara Networks will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Niagara Networks offers the highest port-density systems, and the most complete Next-Generation Network Visibility systems including Network Packet Brokers, Bypass Switches, and Network TAPs.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cemware will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Use MATLAB functions by just visiting website mathfreeon.com. MATLAB compatible, freely usable, online platform services. As of October 2016, 80,000 users from 180 countries are enjoying our platform service.
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, the leading provider of modern development tools and best practices for Continuous Integration on OpenVMS, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware products and development tools that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...
Effectively SMBs and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance requirements. The most recent are Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU’s GDPR have Board Level implications. Managing sensitive data protection will likely result in acquisition criteria, demonstration requests and new requirements. Developers, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by incorporating changes.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walk you through how Oct...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
DevOps is speeding towards the IT world like a freight train and the hype around it is deafening. There is no reason to be afraid of this change as it is the natural reaction to the agile movement that revolutionized development just a few years ago. By definition, DevOps is the natural alignment of IT performance to business profitability. The relevance of this has yet to be quantified but it has been suggested that the route to the CEO’s chair will come from the IT leaders that successfully ma...