From Fragile to Antifragile Software

One of my favourite books is Antifragile by Nassim Taleb where the author talks about things that gain from disorder. Nacim introduces the concept of antifragility which is similar to hormesis in biology or creative destruction in economics and analyses it charecteristics in great details. If you find this topic interesting, there are also other authors who have examined the same phenomenon in different industries such as Gary Hamel, C. S. Holling, Jan Husdal. The concept of antifragile is the opposite of the fragile. A fragile thing such as a package of wine glasses is easily broken when dropped but an antifragile object would benefit from such stress. So rather than marking such a box with “Handle with Care”, it would be labelled “Please Mishandle” and the wine would get better with each drop (would be awesome woulnd’t it).


It didn’t take long for the concept of antifragility to be used also for describing some of the software development principles and architectural styles. Some would say that SOLID prinsiples are antifragile, some would say that microservices are antifragile, and some would say software systems cannot be antifragile ever. This article is my take on the subject.

According to Taleb, fragility, robustness, resilience and antifragility are all very different. Fragility involves loss and penalisation from disorder. Robustness is enduring to stress with no harm nor gain. Resilience involves adapting to stress and staying the same. And antifragility involves gain and benefit from disorder. If we try to relate these concepts and their characteristics to software systems, one way to define them would be as the following.

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Carving the Java EE Monolith Into Microservices: Prefer Verticals Not Layers

Following my introduction blog about why microservices should be event-driven, I’d like to take another few steps and blog about it. (Hopefully I saw you at jBCNconf and Red Hat Summit in San Francisco, where I spoke about some of these topics). Follow me on twitter @christianposta for updates on this project. In this article we discuss the first parts of carving up a monolith.

The monolith I’m exploring in depth for these articles will be from the Ticket Monster tutorial which for a long time has been the canonical example of how to build an awesome application with Java EE and Red Hat technologies. We are using Ticket Monster because it’s a well-written app that straddles the “non-trivial” and “too-complex for an example” line pretty well. It is perfect for illustrative purposes and we can point to it concretely and discuss the pros and cons of certain approaches with true example code. Please take a closer look at the domain and current architecture in light of the further discussions.

Looking at the current architecture above we can see things are nicely broken out already. We have the UI components, the business services, and the long-term persistence storage nicely separated and decoupled from each other yet packaged as a single deployable (a WAR file in this case). If we examine the source code, we see the code has a similar structure. If we were to deploy this, any changes to any of the components would dictate a build, test, and release of the entire deployable. One of the prerequisites to doing microservices is autonomy of components so they can be developed, tested, deployed in isolation without disrupting the rest of the system. So what if we just carve out the different layers here and deploy those independently? Then we can achieve some of that autonomy?

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DevNation Live Blog: Decomposing a Java EE Monolith into WildFly Swarm Microservices

WildFly Swarm is a “Just Enough” Application Server. If you don’t need EJB, don’t bundle it. Likewise for JPA, JAX-RS, or whatever subsystem. Bringing only the portions of an App Server that you need is the strategy that makes Java EE and the JVM a real contender in the microservices space. Ken Finnigan, Co Founder/Lead of WildFly Swarm, walked us through how easy it is to move a monolith deployment to a WildFly Swarm Microservice.

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