Why Event-Driven Development Isn't as Scary as It Seems

4 min read Michael Carroll on Jul 5, 2023
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Gartner listed event-driven development as one of the top technology trends to watch out for in 2020. This isn’t surprising considering the push toward real-time data processing. However, businesses are wary about adopting event-driven architecture (EDA) because of the challenges of moving from a monolithic to a distributed system.

Why is event-driven development (EDD) intimidating?

Moving to an event-driven architecture appears scary when you consider the development and cultural challenges associated with EDD.

Adds more complexity

You're dealing with a large number of events, event producers, and event consumers working together in a loosely coupled ecosystem. Managing this distributed system is difficult for even seasoned developers. 

Complex debugging and tracing issues 

The decoupling and distributed nature of event-driven applications makes error tracing and debugging more complicated than with traditional architecture. You have to dedicate more time and resources to debugging and testing. To make this process faster, you'll need a comprehensive toolset that provides a complete view of the event flow. 

Security issues

Every new service added to an event-driven system introduces a potential point for cyberattacks or data leaks. When building a loosely coupled distributed network, carefully evaluate potential security threats and address any possible vulnerabilities in the system.

Controlling workflows

Since components are asynchronous in EDA, you can't control the timing or the order in which events are produced. This makes controlling workflows difficult. 

For example, you need Event A to occur before Event B is produced, but you can’t be certain it’ll happen in that order since you don’t know when the producer will publish Event A. This complicates testing too because you can’t anticipate the order of events to design a reliable testing protocol.

Getting developers on board with event-driven architecture

The biggest challenge you'll probably face when implementing EDA is getting your developers or software engineering team excited about the change. Although they are well aware of the advantages, you will experience some resistance because of the size of the task in front of them. 

Take the time to educate your teams on the benefits of EDA because you'll need everyone's support before implementing the new system. Include the full support of key stakeholders (CTO, CIO, etc.) because EDD is not just a shift in technology but also in the way development teams work, and cultural changes must start at the top.   

Advantages of event-driven development 

Before you get into that crucial leadership meeting, let's cover some important business benefits that will convince your team that EDD is right for your business.

Asynchronous communication

Services function independently in an event-driven architecture — producers don't know who is consuming events and consumers don’t know who is producing the events. This allows services using different languages or technologies to work together. Also, scaling is easier because components can be added or removed dynamically without changing the logic. 

Consider a real world ride-booking app that collects data on its driver's average speeds. If it uses a loosely coupled system, developers can easily add a new service to the system to prioritize drivers who follow the speed limit. Connecting its best drivers with its users ensures rider safety and a better overall user experience.

Case study: Gett did something similar to improve the customer experience by powering real-time notifications on their app.

Fault tolerance 

Services are isolated in a loosely coupled system. So any glitches or errors are also confined to that service, allowing other services to function without any issues. New events will be stored at the event store or broker, and the consumer can collect them when the service comes back online, making it ideal for systems that are prone to go offline.

For example, sending and receiving updates from smart containers on ships isn't guaranteed due to bad weather and connectivity issues in certain regions. So smart shipping containers use edge devices to safely store the data until the network is back online.

Case study: Mothership uses PubNub to push real-time status updates to help carriers deliver freight faster.

High responsiveness

Event-driven architecture uses event streaming to allow businesses to make real-time decisions. Event stream processing transforms continuous streams of current and historical data into valuable insights for businesses. This real-time analysis is great for industries that need to process tons of data on a daily basis to power processes like detecting fraud, automating supply chains, tackling security threats, and so on.

For example, the logistics industry uses event streams to process data on the fly. Now stakeholders can make informed decisions with insights derived from the most recent information. Also, event-driven architecture provides scalability to handle any spikes in data.

Case study: Decisiv uses data streaming to track and sync updates from their backend to a client-side dashboard in real time.

Reduced costs 

Event-driven architecture uses a push-based system so services are only engaged when the event producer pushes an event to the event broker. The system consumes less bandwidth, less computing power, and less idle fleet capacity since it's not continuously polling to check for an event.

This is useful in e-commerce applications and use cases where you don’t need to poll the status of certain actions every few seconds. For example, an “order paid” event needs to be pushed only once payment has been made. This reduces unnecessary use of bandwidth and cuts down on running costs.

Case study: Stage TEN helps its sellers build meaningful relationships with their audience using PubNub's pre-built chat components.

Benefits outweigh the costs of event-driven architecture

Event-driven development is not an easy task. It requires high precision, in-depth planning, and a great amount of skill. But dismissing EDA blindly would be unwise when you consider the value and flexibility it offers your business and software development teams. 

At PubNub, we provide development teams with the infrastructure they need to easily build scalable, real-time applications so you’ll never have to worry about concurrency limits. Get in touch with us to learn more about our offerings or sign up for a free trial to see for yourself how PubNub enables real-time interactions on your web apps, mobile apps, and IoT devices.