Microservices vs Monolithic Architecture
Developing applications and maintaining them is a top priority for businesses in this age. Choosing the right architecture before development can make the entire process breezy. Two of the most popular architectures are monolithic and microservices.
Microservices is an important software trend that can have great implications on the enterprise IT function. Similarly, monolithic architecture has its own advantages. In this post, we are going to understand the key differences between the two and why some people choose one over the other.
Table of Contents
- What is a Monolithic Architecture?
- What are Microservices?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of monolithic architecture?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of microservices?
- Popular companies using microservices
What is Monolithic architecture?
A monolithic application is one in which all the functionalities of the application are inside a single code. All the code required to design the features of this application is inside the same container in a monolithic architecture.
For example, let’s say that you are designing a timer application for your smartphone. Let’s assume that the timer has a clock and a stopwatch. In a monolithic architecture, the code for the timer, the stopwatch, and the clock will all be inside a single codebase.
Developers design each feature in layers and deploy it inside a single file. Each new feature that is added will simply be placed inside the same codebase. This is the reason this is referred to as monolithic architecture, where ‘mono’ represents one.
What are microservices?
In the previous section, you have seen the addition of all the code inside a single codebase. On the other hand, there is a completely different approach to application design used by developers.
In this type, the entire application is made up of a set of smaller services. These small services communicate with each other through a predefined set of protocols like HTTP. In essence, it’s like taking many parts of the application and designing it individually, before joining them all together. This is called microservices and is something used commonly by developers in today’s age.
Let’s consider the same example we’ve used in Monolithic architecture. Assume that you are creating a timer application for your smartphone. Just like the above example, you have decided to add a stopwatch and clock with your timer. With the microservice methodology, you’ll design the clock, stopwatch, and timer individually. Then you’ll attach them with an HTTP protocol so that they become a complete application.
In simple words, microservices are a small set of services that work together as an application. Developers design each microservice with its very own database. This ensures that the speed and functionality of each microservice are always the best.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of Monolithic architecture?
Here are the benefits of Monolithic architecture:
- They are very simple to develop when compared to microservices
- This type of application is easy to deploy
- It requires less amount of development resources when compared to microservices
- You will encounter fewer problems with network latency when compared to microservice
- The security issues are also minimal when compared to microservices
You might have noted that most of these points have been compared to microservices. We need you to understand that developing a monolithic application is hard. But compared to microservices it is relatively easy. That should be your takeaway here.
Here are the drawbacks of monolithic architecture:
- Monolithic applications are harder to maintain with time, as their size keeps increasing.
- Even with a minor change or update, you are required to redeploy the whole application
- Understanding the core logic of a monolithic application is hard for new developers joining the team
- In terms of efficiency and resource consumption, monolithic ranks at the very bottom.
- It becomes very costly to maintain a monolithic application as it grows with your organization
- With an ever-increasing size, the deployment time and costs will also continuously increase
- Finally, one small bug or error will bring down the whole application almost immediately.
With all that said, here’s your final takeaway from these points - Monolithic architecture is best used for applications that are small and will always remain in a manageable size. If you feel that you might have to constantly change up your application or add modifications, monolithic might not be the best choice for you.
Benefits and drawbacks of microservices
Here are the benefits of microservices:
- Whenever you need to update one feature, you can just update the microservice and redeploy it.
- The deployment time is low, as each function is separated as an individual service
- New team members and developers can easily understand that architecture, as each service is separate and well laid out
- If a separate feature of the function of an application needs to be updated, you can do so by just updating the individual microservice
- If an individual feature has a bug or error, you can take that down and look into it, while the application is still online
- Each new update can be deployed individually as each microservice is deployed independently
Here are the drawbacks of microservice:
- Development and management of microservices is much harder than monolithic applications
- The developers need to be really skilled to develop your applications with a microservice architecture
- Deployment of each microservice may sound beneficial, but it is very resource-intensive
- If you don’t allocate proper resources, you can end up facing a ton of network latency issues
- Debugging errors in a microservice architecture is difficult, but not when compared to monolithic architecture
Examples of companies that use Microservices
There are tons of famous examples where organizations have preferred microservices over a traditional monolithic architecture. Back in 2001, Amazon’s website was nothing but a big block of monolith architecture. But they later decided to go the microservice way and this became their top competitive advantage. This smart move allowed developers to create and ship out new developments quickly. They were also able to identify areas of bottlenecks without much effort.
Similarly, other companies that went the microservice way include Bestbuy, Coca-Cola, eBay, Etsy, Netflix, Spotify, and Uber.
Microservices is a terrific choice for organizations that are on a high growth path. It’s perfect for organizations that have the resources and the talent to run it. But microservices may not be the best choice for small businesses.