There are many discussions currently about monolith vs microservices in new software projects – depending on different circumstances, you could choose either and get the great results. For example, monolithic architecture is said to make the workflow for development teams easier. However, breaking down the major system into a series of components might be the choice for your case. So, which one to choose? In the subsequent sections of this article we will describe the pros and cons of each methodology and suggest how to tailor the decision to your organization’s situation.
All the modules of monolithic program function as a single whole. Modern programming technology distinguishes two major components: front-end (UI) and back-end (business logic, calculations, storage). They interact together to produce a functioning application. The system built this way is largely indivisible, and to introduce any changes a developer would have to recompile the whole program.
Even though this might sound rather intimidating at a glance, especially when doing a comparison of a monolithic application vs microservices, this type of architecture is ideal for a wide array of situations. Let us consider some benefits and drawbacks of monolithic programs in detail.
Monolithic architecture is simpler at every stage – development, testing, scaling and deployment. But apart from that, it has a few more notable features:
- Centralization minimizes functional duplication. A typical modern app is divided into modules that conduct separate functions and do not contain duplicated code;
- Higher efficiency. Less entangled data storage and memory utilization systems serve to speed up the operation;
- Lower development costs. The fact that the software is centralized not only makes it easier to execute but also leads to lower development expenses and simpler maintenance.
Here are some of the things you might not find so convenient:
- Tasks are difficult to isolate. Due to centralization and tight interconnection of all aspects of software, it is tricky to independently maintain worker processes and resolve other specific issues;
- Lots of nuances. The complex structure makes it hard to grasp all of the relationships and aftermaths;
- Limited availability of tools. Since a single stack is used for the entire system, you can encounter a problem of having insufficient instruments to perform a task within your program.
What is the microservice architecture (MSA)? MSA is the approach to building a distributed system based on microservices, their interaction with each other and the network environment, as well as the principles that guide the design of the architecture, its creation, and evolution. Microservices are small functional programs directed at conducting dedicate functions. They are greatly suitable for execution on modern multi-cored/multi-threaded processors. The main difference of microservices vs monolithic architecture is that each microservice can be implemented independently. Now, let’s review the pros and cons of microservices.
Why would you choose complex intertwinement of microservices to the simplicity and straightforwardness of monolith architecture? Well, here are a couple of reasons:
- Specificity. Each service in a system is custom-tailored for a specific task, providing great organization and agility;
- Flexibility. Since each service can be handled individually, you will find that it’s much easier to change configurations and manipulate the code of your application than it would be with monolith;
- Automatic scaling. Microservices can be increased or decreased in numbers depending on the current load at the separate operation. Although this will only work in certain circumstances, it is an important modification tool;
- Spread functionality. Since you’re eliminating the option of making a mistake in the general code by isolating the different aspects of your program into microservices, it has greater performance and lower downtime. You’re also crossing out the mistakes that you could make when connecting the different services since they’re independent of each other.
All this might seem like a flawless option for software developers but this type of system is quite specific and far from perfect. When comparing monolithic vs microservices architecture, the latter might be significantly more beneficial and less troublesome. Here’s why:
- Communication. For an application to function properly, you will need to establish a reliable connection between all of the services in your program. This process brings about lots of quirks on its own due to the distributed nature of the resulting system;
- Multiple data storages. Independency means that each of microservices must have its own storage context, which will need to be updated with each transaction that comes through;
- Complex testing. Testing will be more costly, as you will have to launch a separate testing process for each of the services in your system. Moreover, each round of testing one block will involve activating all of the other blocks as well, to test their connectivity;
- Deployment. Deploying the MSA becomes increasingly complicated as you add more services to a system, because each of them will have to be separately monitored, scaled, and coordinated with the others;
- Higher overall costs. All of the reasons listed above mean more work for developers and generally more advanced procedures for testing, deployment, scaling, and maintenance.
Monolith vs Microservices architecture for your enterprise
Now that you know how monolith apps are distinguished from microservices, you may ask which one would be the right choice for your company or your project. On the internet, there are many sources that suggest that monolith is a great starting point; others strongly argue against it. Neither is completely right, as each situation is individual and you should make the decision based off the specific case. There are multiple factors to consider when choosing monolithic vs microservices architecture. Start by asking yourself some questions:
- Where does your area of expertise lay? Consider which type of architecture is the most familiar to you. For instance, developers that have experience creating e-commerce platforms might find it quite easy working with microservices, whereas those that make simple applications or realize minor business ideas would go with monolith;
- What is your team specialized in? Teams of different sizes might be more or less capable of handling the complex mesh of microservices. Ensure that your team has the right capacity and combination of talents necessary to work with a particular type of architecture;
- What does your company data storages look like? If you use a cloud-based data sharing system in your enterprise, microservices would suit you. It would not work if you have a single database, since each service requires independent information storage;
- How ready are you to take increased risks? Although microservices might seem as a more high-tech, contemporary way to run a project or a business, you will find that it’s more risky due to its complexity and high maintenance and testing costs. In this case, one must take great care about the control and scaling system and not be overly ambitious.
Comparing microservices vs monolithic to decide which one is right for your enterprise is a tricky business, since each has its advantages and disadvantages. The main pros for monolith are simpler structures and centralization, whereas microservices provide higher scalability, specificity and flexibility. Keep in mind your individual circumstances when making the choice. Even for a company with a dedicated software department there are a lot of things to consider. And what if this is not your case? What if you have an idea or need an application and have no labor resources need for its creation? Well, the answer is simple. Contact an established software outsourcing vendor! We are the technology partner for many businesses globally, providing a variety of hardware and software solutions for different spheres of activity. Wide array of expertise, many years of experience, successful projects of varying complexity in miscellaneous industries, highly trained personnel - we have it all. Get in touch today! Our staff will discuss your idea and provide you with all the needed information and possible ways to implement it.