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HomeNewsOpinionHow Airbnb nailed service-oriented architecture to revolutionise travel industry

How Airbnb nailed service-oriented architecture to revolutionise travel industry

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By implementing SOA, Airbnb achieved greater scalability, flexibility, and interoperability, ultimately revolutionising the way people book accommodations and challenging traditional hotel chains.

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Written By Pritesh Patel

With over 7 million listings and over 50,000 artisanal activities, has become one of the most prominent global destinations for unique, local experiences. 

As an economic empowerment engine for hospitality entrepreneurs, Airbnb has enabled millions of hosts to monetize their spaces and passions while preserving the economic benefits of tourism within their communities. 

With over 3.5 billion guest arrivals so far, it is available in 62 languages in more than 220 countries and regions worldwide.

The development of the internet and technological improvements in recent years have had a tremendous impact on the tourism business. The adoption of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is one of the main drivers behind this transition. 

Different apps may connect and share data thanks to the SOA approach to software design. This has boosted productivity, improved client experiences, and increased income for organizations in the travel sector. In this article, we'll look at how SOA is changing the travel sector and the advantages it offers to both businesses and consumers.

Introduction to Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)

The field of software development heavily relies on the complex architectural strategy known as service-oriented architecture (SOA). In essence, it enables the development, deployment, and administration of several services that can be utilized, seamlessly connected, and shared across several platforms and applications. SOA encourages modularity, flexibility, and scalability by dividing complicated systems into smaller, easier-to-manage components known as services. 

In other words, SOA promotes a distributed strategy where several services interact with one another to carry out certain business activities, as opposed to creating monolithic systems. This makes it possible for businesses to simplify their processes, boost productivity, and quickly respond to changing business needs.

Benefits of SOA

Numerous variables influence the general acceptance of SOA in terms of its fundamental ideas and advantages. First, SOA encourages loose coupling, which enables services to be created, deployed, and modified separately without causing the entire system to break down. 

This modular structure reduces the possibility of system-wide failures by ensuring that modifications made to one service do not cascade to other services. 

Additionally, SOA promotes service reuse, allowing businesses to use current services for a variety of applications rather than having to create whole new ones. 

This, not only reduces development time and effort but also enhances consistency and maintainability across different applications. Furthermore, SOA fosters interoperability by facilitating seamless integration between diverse systems, technologies, and platforms. 

This enables organizations to leverage existing IT investments and adopt new technologies without major disruptions or costly migration efforts. In summary, the main principles of SOA empower organizations with the flexibility, agility, and scalability needed to thrive in today's dynamic business landscape.

Why did Airbnb choose SOA as its architectural approach?

One of the prime examples of an organisation that has successfully implemented SOA as its architectural approach is Airbnb. They confronted the problem of maintaining a massive quantity of data while enabling smooth interactions between hosts and guests across several platforms as a global hospitality business. 

Airbnb overcame these difficulties and changed its business strategy by adopting SOA. The use of services enabled them to break down their complex systems into more manageable components, each responsible for a specific business functionality. 

This enhanced modularity allowed Airbnb to develop and deploy new features and services independently without disrupting the entire system. Additionally, SOA facilitated seamless integration between various internal and external systems, enabling smooth interactions between hosts, guests, and the platform itself. 

By implementing SOA, Airbnb achieved greater scalability, flexibility, and interoperability, ultimately revolutionizing the way people book accommodations and challenging traditional hotel chains. As a result, SOA played a pivotal role in Airbnb's success and has set a benchmark for other organizations looking to embrace a service-oriented architectural approach.

Viaduct: A Data-Oriented Service Mesh

A service mesh (such as Istio or Linkerd) is the backbone of modern, scaleable SOA applications. It routes service calls to microservices that are capable of handling them. The industry norm for service meshes today is to organize only around remote procedure calls, without any understanding of the data that underpins the architecture of the application. 

The vision was to move away from procedure-driven service meshes to service meshes that are structured around data. At Airbnb, there is a data-driven service mesh called Viaduct.

A data-driven service is defined by a GraphQL™ schema, which includes the following types (and interfaces): Queries and subscriptions that provide access to that data, abstracted from a service entry point that provides the data Mutations that provide ways to update the data, abstracted again from a service entry point

Putting Schema at the center

Viaduct takes a different approach to GraphQL than other distributed systems like Apollo Federation. Instead of having a single schema, Viaduct has several primitives that make it possible to keep a single schema while still allowing teams to work together on it. 

Viaduct is gradually replacing more of our process-oriented services, and its schema captures more and more of the data managed by the application. Certain microservices, particularly those that utilize GraphQL for their APIs, employ a common schema to create their APIs. 

Although each of these microservices has a unique GraphQL schema, we want to eventually utilize the central schema to provide the schema for the data that is stored in the database.

Additionally, the central schema will deal with data scalability, one of the main problems with large-scale SOA systems.

In modern SOA applications, a change in a database schema often necessitates manual reflection in the APIs of multiple, or even multiple, layers of microservices before being made available to client code. 

This process can take weeks of coordination between multiple teams. By deducing service APIs and database schema from a single central schema, a change of a database schema can be transmitted to client code in a single update.

Being Serverless

Most large SOA applications have many stateless derived-data services and ‘backend for frontend services, which take raw data from low-level services and convert it into data that is more suitable for client presentation. Stateless logic is well suited to the serverless model, which removes the operating overhead of microservices and hosts the logic in a cloud functions fabric.

At Viaduct, they use serverless cloud functions to compute what we call derived fields. These functions operate on top of our graph without knowing the underlying services. They help us move transformational logic from the service mesh to stateless containers, preserving our graph cleanliness and reducing the amount and complexity of services needed.

Can you achieve the same level of success as Airbnb?

While not all businesses can achieve the same level of success as Airbnb, some necessary lessons can be applied to other travel-related enterprises. To increase scalability and flexibility businesses should first think about dividing their monolithic systems into smaller and independent services. Additionally, using microservices might help you build a system that is more modular and flexible.

Furthermore, software development companies should prioritize data integration and communication between different applications. This not only improves efficiency but also allows for a more seamless user experience.

The success of Airbnb and the influence it has had on the travel sector are directly related to the usage of service-oriented architecture by the company. They were able to develop a platform that was more scalable, versatile, and user-friendly by integrating SOA. Other companies in the travel industry can learn from Airbnb's example and utilize SOA to stay competitive and meet the changing demands of consumers.

The author is content marketer at . Views are personal.

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