Interview with Sam Newman, author of Building Microservices

by Adele CarpenterJuly 6, 2017

After living in Australia for the last five years, the Londoner, and author of the well-received Building Microservices, has returned home to focus on his business as an independent consultant. We caught up via Skype to discuss his upcoming visit to Amsterdam and the tech trends that he is keeping his eye on.

Reading time: Less than 5 minutes

You seem to have been quite busy with talks and conferences this year. What has been the highlight?

I suppose GOTO Chicago is a highlight in as much as I didn’t explode. I helped run a track on the first day, spoke on another track the next, and then did two days of workshops and didn’t die, so that was really good.

I think it’s just been a bit of a whirlwind really, because I started a new business at the start of this year, so it’s hard to point out a highlight. However, it is quite edifying that despite being away from Europe for five years, I’m still able to come back and do these talks, connect with people and get great attendances.

Is there anything in particular you look forward to when you come to Amsterdam?

I quite like cycling around. I love cycling around the canals and parks and normally trying to find some sort of bar outside a canal that I can sit at.

I’m actually coming back twice more before the end of the year so each time I come back I am trying to see a bit more of the city. Also, most the people I know that live in Amsterdam are not actually Dutch, so I am looking forward to meeting some more Dutch people, particularly on the tech side of things.

What is your favorite thing about the city?

I think how accessible it is. You can just jump on a bike and go wherever you want to go.

Given that you have been so busy, do you still find time to code or play around with things?

Last year I was playing around a lot with things like Kubernetes. Because of the work I have been doing in the last year or two, I tend to play around more with the structure than the actual coding side.

When things settle down I want to do more work in the platform space and the CI/CD space. I’m doing some work with the Cloud Native Foundation, so I want to do some more hands-on stuff with them. I’m also looking at doing more work in the Amazon solutions space.

What technologies are you most excited about at the moment?

I definitely want to learn more about Kubernetes and the Kubernetes ecosystem. It certainly is a transformative piece of tech where the cloud becomes a utility for developers.

Excited might not be the right word, but this is definitely what I want to spend more time on. The kind of work I tend to do with my clients, it’s really transformative, and also it’s something that may help deliver on the idea of cloud as a utility for developers. If I had to pick out one that’s it.

If I was spending time getting up to speed on a programming language to make sure I knew it inside out, it would be different to some of the things I have been using recently, like Go, for instance. Basically anything that is different and stretches my skills set.

So, tell us more about your upcoming workshop.

I’ve been running this workshop in one form or another for some time and what I’m finding is that people are becoming more familiar with microservices as a concept, but still struggle with how to implement them effectively or how to adapt the existing infrastructure. In the workshop we cover how to incrementally migrate to microservices architecture without having to stop any features.

It is designed for people who are facing challenges around distributed systems, and thinking about migrating from an existing monolith to microservice architecture. Typical participants will be CTOs of smaller tech firms, chief architects, managers and tech leads, although developers who are interested in the topic are certainly welcome to come along.

The workshop doesn’t contain any code as I like to keep it broad. There is some discussion of DDD, API, and Docker. I have about 3-4 days of material and deliver what is most important to the group on the day – it is very participant driven.

My main goal for the workshop is that people come for the topics, learn interactively from each other and make some new contacts in the local tech community along the way. It is capped at 25 participants, so it’s the perfect environment to do just that.

And finally, why should people go to the workshop?

Because it is focused on outcomes. We explore the pitfalls and downsides of implementing the architecture, as well as how to mitigate problems. For example: how to effectively deal with distributed transactions and the implications of CAP theorem.

We address whether microservices are right for you, as microservices are not a universal solution to all problems. Then you are given concrete tools to implement the migration to a microservices based architecture in an incremental fashion, all while continuing to ship new features.

Ultimately, you will walk away knowing whether microservices are the right choice for your business, and if they are, then you will have a clear idea of how to make it happen.


Sam Newman’s 1-day workshop “Designing Microservices” will be held on September 28th at the Trifork office in Amsterdam. For full details and to register, visit Hurry, places are limited.