by Leon Rosenshein

Monolith to Microservice

Who knew Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick were software architects? I certainly didn't. And yet, in 1968 they came up with 2001: A Space Odyssey, which includes a great metaphor for what happens when a new team encounters an existing monolith.

There it is, in all its glory. It works. It does something. It also has what appears to be a featureless, impenetrable surface. We’re not sure how or why it works, and we certainly don’t know where to start digging in. But we have to.

2001 monolith on the plains

So what do we do? We tear it apart. Into the smallest parts we can possibly imagine. Then we break it up a little farther. We end up with a pile of parts at our feet, and we’re not really sure what to do with them.

2001 Monkey smashing bones

And we start trying to mash them together. We’re not always sure what we want, but we keep trying. Eventually things start sticking together. Then more and more things. We have small successes and we build on them until, finally, it all comes together

2001 bone morphs to spaceship

1968 was actually a pretty important year for computers. It brought us the Apollo Guidance computer. A 70lb system that took man to the moon. All with less computing power than some USB chargers. And it brought us the mother of all demos, which has just about everything folks do with computers these days.

So what are you going to build on that foundation?