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What Are Microservices, and Why Should You Care?

03.24.20236 min read

A paradigm shift is happening in cannabis tech from "analog" to "digital," and if you ask us—it's long overdue.

Many weary cannabis operators use makeshift processes to bridge gaps across a volatile regulatory landscape. And we've seen it all—reliance on spreadsheets to operate, multiple systems open simultaneously because technologies don't talk to each other. These makeshift processes leave gaps in operational oversight and create significant inefficiencies for the business owner.

One could blame monolithic technologies that don't offer a model of collaboration and integration. Out-of-the-box tech has a place, but it only works for some businesses, not those as complex as regulated industries require. Now is a significant time to remove the training wheels on cannabis and break into future thinking.

I want to introduce you to microservices vs. monoliths and why you should care.

Monolith Technologies

A monolith is a single, self-contained application with only the essential features and functionality. Monoliths typically have a simpler development and deployment process since all the code is in one place. However, as the application grows in size and complexity, it can become harder to maintain and scale.

Cannabis is full of monoliths, including many of the well-known marketplaces. These technologies tout themselves as "all-in-one" solutions but generally lack features that force operators to supplement with manual processes and spreadsheets. That's because, in monolithic architectures, a change for one customer means a change for all customers on the platform. 

Microservices Technologies

Microservices are a software development architecture that involves breaking down a large application into smaller, independent, and loosely coupled services that can communicate with each other via well-defined APIs. Each microservice is responsible for a specific task or feature deployed, managed, and scaled independently.

A "services" architecture provides an open technology stack ideal for highly regulated markets, where new requirements present daily while differing state-by-state. Microservices enable cannabis organizations to build and maintain large, complex ecosystems without having to re-platform. This results in greater organizational flexibility and scalability in an environment for innovation that leverages best-of-breed technologies.

To be successful, operators must stop re-platforming from one monolith to another as part of a broader growth strategy. Microservices allow operators to innovate at their own pace, based on their needs, while controlling costs. By moving to a microservices solution like Salve, operators can choose their tech stack, whether in cannabis or not and operate it how they want, with complete control over their organization's data and how to leverage it.

According to Gartner research, Over 75% of cannabis businesses today are concerned their current platforms are limiting their scale and knowingly operate a system that inadequately supports their business. I've heard it 100 times from executives and decision-makers—we chose the "best of the worst" options after spending months on demo calls and focus group meetings. Gartner reported businesses that operate a microservices approach would outpace monolithic competitors by more than 80% regarding feature development and customer satisfaction. And with how competitive the cannabis industry is, that's quite a claim.

The Salve platform is a microservices platform specifically designed for the cannabis industry. If you are a new or enterprise-level cannabis business interested in simplifying scale and putting your data to work to improve sales and efficiency—give us a call. We can guide you through the details.

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Tony Richards

CTO / Co-Founder @Salve

Tony is the architect of Salve. Serial software engineer, algorithmic enthusiast, with a love for people and solving problems.

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