Data Access for Microservices

Data Access for Microservices

Data Access for Microservices. If you want to access data in a distributed environment such as in a microservice architecture, then data services are the way to go. The idea is to create a data abstraction layer (DAL) that the rest of the system’s applications and services can share. Thus, a data service gives you a generalized interface to the data you’re exposing and provides access to it in a standard manner. This would be in a well-understood protocol and a known data format

If you want to access data in a distributed environment such as in a microservice architecture, then data services are the way to go. The idea is to create a data abstraction layer (DAL) that the rest of the system’s applications and services can share. Thus, a data service gives you a generalized interface to the data you’re exposing and provides access to it in a standard manner. This would be in a well-understood protocol and a known data format. For example, a popular approach is to use JSON via HTTP/S.

Writing a data service is not just about creating CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) operations. It’s usually considered an anti-pattern if that is all you’re doing. You should instead strive to do something more useful in your data service. This may include aspects such as data filtering, validation, transformations, and transactions. You need to do something non-trivial for the data service to be useful.

There are plenty of DSL based data integration tools that do these tasks. However, the functionality and the flexibility you need may be more than what such a tool can provide. In these situations, you would usually turn to your trusty general-purpose programming language, i.e., your Java, C#, or Node.js to get it done. But then again, most of these languages have a higher overhead when getting a basic data service up and running, and maintaining it.

Ballerina is meant to avoid this requirement of boilerplate code and provides maximum agility for the developer. Ballerina is more focused on integration scenarios. Thus, writing data services comes very much naturally to it. In supporting this, it contains first-class language constructs for services, endpoints, transactions, data security, and more.

Writing a CRUD Service

In the beginning I mentioned that just writing a CRUD service is not necessarily good. However, let’s take this as a starting point to show the basics you need to get a service up and running. We can later improve on it to add some more interesting features. Here, we will be creating an HTTP service that will consume and produce JSON.

Ballerina has support for SQL databases through JDBC, so any JDBC driver can be used to support an RDBMS. You simply have to download the JDBC driver jar and add it as a Ballerina project dependency.

Let’s first see how we create the HTTP service for our task. In Ballerina, services and endpoints are first-class constructs in the language. A service is defined in the following way.

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