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Monolith vs Microservices Architecture: Which One Is Better for Your Business?

Author
Andriy Stelmakh
Published
August 26, 2021
Time
10 mins to read

Table of Contents

    The battle microservices vs monolith continues for a while now because software developers and business owners still try to determine which architectural style is the best to select for their applications. The product scalability, efficiency, and competitiveness depend on which one they choose – monolith approach and microservices.

    While monolith architecture has been around for a long time, microservices came to light a few years ago and are accelerating nowadays. In comparison with the monolithic approach, which is a default model for building software applications, microservices allow for tangible opportunities for businesses to enhance scalability, flexibility, and agility. Read on to jump into more specific details, pros, and cons of each architectural style and figure out why/why not you should switch to microservices. Will your choice be successful for your business?

    What is monolithic architecture?

    If the application is developed using the monolithic approach, it is created as a single and autonomous unit consisting of a database (consists of many tables in a relational database management system), client-side user interface (contains HTML pages, UI, and Javascript to run in a browser), server-side application (performs domain-specific logic, retrieve and update data from the database, and handles HTTP requests).

    All these parts are interconnected and function in one location. This means that when stakeholders want to update the application or make changes, they need to handle the same set of code and deploy the updated version of the server-side interface which can affect the user-side performance. Monolithic-based applications do not need an API to communicate.

    The majority of legacy applications use monolithic architecture. In our article about how to perform a legacy system modernization, we went over modernization approaches and how to choose the rights one to achieve better results for your business.

    Microservices approach explained

    With business-oriented APIs, the microservices approach allows for the splitting of the application into a collection of smaller independent and self-sufficient units/services which makes backend operation unnoticeable. They can be reused in multiple business processes or over different digital touchpoints due to their own business logic and database. Thanks to each microservice that has its own database, this approach ensures the principle of loose coupling. Moreover, each type of database can be used exactly for the specific needs of each microservice.
    The migration of the application from a monolithic architecture to microservices helps reduce technical debt. There are a lot of differences, pros, and also cons of each architectural style. Let’s take a look at the main differences of monolith vs microservices and dive into their benefits and advantages so that you can estimate which solution will best suit your project.

    What are the differences between monolithic and microservices-based architectures?

    Differences Between Monolithic vs Microservices Architectures, Euristiq

    So let’s sum up the differences between the two architectures and outline the aspects where their software development processes differ.

    Monolith: benefits and drawbacks

    Although it might seem that a monolithic architecture does not have any benefits, there are some. And depending of the technical case, one or the other approach to building the architecture of your software product can be used.

    Advantages of monolithic applications:

    Disadvantages of monolithic applications:

    Microservices: benefits and drawbacks

    The main benefit of microservices is loose coupling which means that each microservice has a single responsibility providing a single functionality. Thereby, each database attached to each
    microservice is decentralized allowing the use of the database that fits certain microservice’s needs.

    So, the main principles of microservices concern the following:

    Advantages of microservices architectures:

    Disadvantages of monolithic applications:

    Disadvantages of microservices-based applications:

    Considering a big advantage of scaling-up and the possibility to be integrated with different tech stacks, microservices still have their drawbacks inherent to complex natures.

    Summarised comparison of monolith vs microservices

    In the table below you can see a brief comparison that illustrates all the important differences between a monolithic and microservices approach in application architecture:

    MonolithMicroservices
    ArchitectureSingle unit with a centralized databaseCollection of small self-sufficient units with the separated independent codebase
    ScalabilityHard to scale due to the need to redeploy the whole systemEasy to scale up
    AgilityImpossible to integrate new tech stacksFlexible and allows for adopting new technologies per specific business requirements
    ResiliencyIf an error occurs – it doesn’t affect the application as a wholeIf an error occurs – the whole system goes down
    SecurityData processing is secured thanks to a single unitProne to security issues due to API getaways needed for interprocess communication
    DeploymentDeploy the entire system oncePossibility to deploy each microservice separately
    TestingEasyComplex
    Development teamImpossible to split the devs’ responsibilities due to unified databaseEach developer works independently on each component/service

    Why do enterprises adopt microservices?

    Most businesses launch their products by designing their infrastructures as a single monolith. Every time when developers want to upgrade or scale existing systems, they have to carefully untangle dependencies which is time-consuming and, to change or add features in a monolith may lead to code disruption for the entire application.

    Which architecture will best suit your business?

    Therefore, a good solution is to divide the functionality into small distributed independently-running microservices. Amazon, Netflix, Uber, Etsy are well-known examples that switched to microservices from monolithic-based applications. If you are thinking about adopting microservices on AWS, here’s a short guide to help you.

    There is no unambiguous answer to this question unless you define your business requirements and estimate your project budget, projections, and revenue.

    Taking into consideration the fact that the monolithic approach encompasses easy development and fast deployment – it will be a good match for small businesses and startups. But if you are going to implement changes and upgrade your application, then microservices will help to achieve this goal. Let’s come up with the following scenarios.

    Reasons to select a Monolithic Architecture:

    Reasons to select a Microservices Architecture:

    Our team of engineers accomplished a new website for one of Europe’s largest airlines with 3x improved performance and additional custom apps. The reason for legacy modernization and migration to AWS cloud was the fact that the main website was a front-end monolith that was not suitable for implementing user-centered changes that wouldn’t affect the whole system. We implemented microservices front-end architecture allowing us to deploy different parts of the application separately with no need to redeploy the entire system.

    Conclusion

    Nowadays Agile approaches among developers’ teams make microservices more preferable over monolithic-based applications. However, that does not mean that one is better than the other. You have to understand your business purposes and estimate your project as a whole. If you are a startup for instance, and adding new features and upgrading your application is not what you are looking for, then monolith will probably be a good option for you. You will find microservices a much more progressive approach than monolith for your project if your goal is to grow and scale up your business in the long run. In this case, you might want to hire the best experts who can evaluate your project and offer you the best solution.

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