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Monolithic and microservices? Which architecture is better

Monolithic and microservices are basic architectures for software design and development. Comparing microservices and monolithic is to define which fits your company.

In recent years, microservices architecture has become so common for its tangible benefits to software developers. These benefits may include an increase in flexibility, scalability, etc.

Nowadays, high-tech companies such as Netflix, Google, Amazon, and other firms have successfully shifted from monolithic to microservice architecture. Moreover, some corporations consider applying the microservice software architecture as a great way to boost their growth.

Monolithic architecture, however, is a model for developing a software solution. The applications of the monolithic software architecture tend to go down due to codebases, adopting new technologies, scaling, deployment, etc. Thus, is it worth it for businesses to switch the software system from a monolithic to microservices? Whether developing a microservices architecture will help you to reach business goals or not.

This article will give you an overview of monolithic and microservices and compare these software architectures to see which is suitable for your business.

An introduction to monolithic and microservices

Monolithic architecture

Monolithic architecture is a conventional approach to build software architecture with a single and indivisible element. This technology software solution usually includes a customer-side application, a server-side interface, and a database.

These elements will unite all functions that are controlled and served in a place. Regarding monolithic applications, all functionalities of a project appear in a single codebase. People design monolithic applications in different layers such as presentation, service, and persistence, and deploy that codebase in a single file.

Monolithic applications architecture shares a large codebase and lacks modularity. If software developers want to change anything, they have to access the same codebase. Thus, software developers will make changes in the whole stack at once.

Benefits of monolithic software architecture

  • Less cross-cutting concerns: Cross-cutting concerns affect the whole monolithic application regarding logging, handling and performance monitoring. When a project is running, the area of functionality focuses on only an application, making it easier to solve it.
  • Easier for software developers to test: Monolithic application is easy to debug and test since it’s a single indivisible element.
  • Simple to deploy and develop: Between monolithic and microservice, the monolithic architecture is easier to deploy since you don’t have to deal with many deployments, just one file. Besides, this software architecture is a standard way to build software when comparing monolithic and microservice. Any software developer has the knowledge and capabilities to develop a monolithic application architecture.

    Drawbacks of monolithic application architecture

  • Understanding: Between monolithic and microservice, the monolithic architecture seems too hard to understand and manage when scaling up. Software developers need to redeploy the whole application, even a small change. For example, if any developer wants to join the project, it’s hard to understand the logic of existing applications, even for a single functionality. Furthermore, bug tracking and fixing are hard to handle when the monolithic architecture application becomes big and fast development.

  • Making changes: When teams want to make changes for this project, they will face some difficulties. It’s hard to execute changes in a large and complicated application with tight coupling. Any change will affect the whole application; thus, it requires thorough coordination from team members. That will lead to the overall process lasting much longer than usual.

  • Scalability: Developers cannot scale indivisible components independently, only the whole monolithic application. If a part of the application is handling traffic, the team needs to deploy the application on many servers.

  • New software technology barriers: Monolithic architecture applications will get problems when adopting new technologies since software engineers have to write the application again.

    Microservices architecture

    Microservices architecture is an approach for software development where an application divides into different components. With each element, software engineers will develop, package and deploy in an individual process. So all services feature their logic, the database and carry out distinctive functions.

This microservices architecture can communicate through mechanisms such as HTTP REST APIs. These different services in a microservices architecture have to write in different programming languages. Between monolithic and microservice, the microservices architecture has more benefits compared to the other. Microservice architecture has an impact on the relationship between the software application and the database.

Each application will have its database rather than share a single database with other microservices architecture. So it often leads to the duplication of some data; however, it’s important if you want to take advantage of microservices architecture.

Principles of microservices architecture

  • Taking single responsibility: Between monolithic and microservice, single responsibility is one of the most fundamental principles of microservice architecture. It features a single unit, even a method or a class, microservice architecture will take its responsibility. Each microservice architecture takes a single responsibility and also provides a distinctive functionality. The database in a microservice architecture is decentralized and each microservice owns a unique database.
  • Developing around business capabilities: There is a technology that will fit best for executing a unique functionality. When comparing monolithic and microservice, applying monolithic architecture is a big drawback. Since software developers can’t use different technologies for each functionality, it has to compromise in specific areas. Nevertheless, a microservice can easily adopt a new technology stack or backend database storage. That technology is useful for solving business problems. It means the microservice architecture can utilize different technology depending on business requirements.
  • Ready to deal with failure: Comparing monolithic and microservice, this microservice designs for failure cases. It must take advantage of this software solution. Fixing one microservice will not affect the whole application, so functionalities remain easily accessible to users. If there is a failure in one module, it results in the collapse of the whole application when applying monolithic architecture.

Advantages of microservices software architecture

When comparing monolithic and microservice, microservices can solve the drawbacks of monolithic architecture.

Independent elements:

Software developers deploy and update related services independently, giving more flexibility. Moreover, if you want to bug one microservice, it has just affected a particular area in the application. It’s easy to add features to a microservices architecture when comparing monolithic and microservice.

Easy to understand:

Classifying into smaller and simpler elements, microservices architecture is easier to manage and understand. Software developers need to focus on the service related to the business goals.

Having better scalability:

Between monolithic and microservice, the microservice application will scale independently. Thus, the whole process is much more cost-saving and time-effective than using monolithic architecture. When comparing monolithic and microservice applications, monolithic architecture has to be scaled if required.

Additionally, every monolithic application software has limitations regarding scalability. Therefore, the more users you have, the more troubles you have with using monolithic architecture. Many firms end up rebuilding their monolithic application software.

Disadvantages of a microservices software

  • Complexity: Between monolithic and microservice, microservice architecture requires more complexity. As a microservice architecture is a distributed software application, developers have to select and build connections amongst modules. Additionally, each microservice software architecture consists of a unique service, so software developers deploy them independently.
  • Being handled carefully: Between monolithic and microservice, this microservice software architecture is a complicated system. So skilled software developers have to connect all of them carefully.
  • Requiring cross-cutting issues: When developing microservice, software developers solve cross-cutting concerns comparing monolithic and microservice. They might include logging, metrics, health checks, etc.
  • Testing & checking: Between monolithic and microservice, the microservice structure makes the testing and checking processes more complicated and harder.

When to use monolithic and microservices architecture

Monolithic application

Monolithic software architecture may apply in those projects which don’t require a real-time response. It also can withstand downtime in web development. So these projects will set limitations to a size. If software developers want to expand the size of web applications, microservice architecture can handle it. Web applications use monolithic software architecture.

Microservices application

Microservice architecture is often used in large projects which require either real-time responses or maybe cannot withstand downtime. It can lead to abnormal spikes sometimes. For example, projects can use microservice software architecture such as TV networks, eCommerce platforms, food delivery apps, etc.

Differences between monolithic and microservices architecture

A website development application has two fundamental components regarding a relational database and a server-side application. First of all, the server-side application does the heavy lifting of whatever operations occur. It’s responsible for dealing with the HTTP requests from customers, retrieving data, updating the databases, and giving HTML responses to the customers.

Monolithic architecture is a conventional way to build web applications. All business logic to serve clients’ requests will package into a single process. For instance, if the web application is in Java, developers will package data in a war file, deploy it to a tomcat or a jetty server. If we use Python Django or Rails, the same web application has to deploy the same structure.

Now let’s check how microservices architecture can handle all drawbacks of monolithic architecture.

Monolithic to microservices: Which software architecture is suitable for your business solutions?

Features Monolithic architecture Microservice architecture
1. Basic Monolithic architecture with one codebase builds as large distribution systems. Microservice architecture creates many small independent modules that fit business functions.
2. Scale It requires an entire application to scale although only one part of the distribution system is scaled. Scaling of each element is possible since each will be decoupled to different services. Software developers can scale the application horizontally and individually.
3. Deployment It’s quite difficult since a small change in the application will require the deployment of the whole application Continuing deployment is possible since each service is separate from the other, so deployment as well.
4. Database It’s a shareable database Each module and service will have its database
5. Adopting new technologies It’s hard to change programming languages or technologies since all of them depend on each other. It’s easy to change framework, technology, or language as each module is independent.

Applying monolithic architecture

Between monolithic and microservice, each of them will have its advantages and disadvantages. So there will be different projects that will fit with different kinds of software architectures depending on many factors.

  • Small project: If you’re a startup or working on a small project, you don’t need to solve the complexity of microservice architecture. Comparing monolithic and microservice, the monolithic application can satisfy all business needs.
  • Simple web development: Small applications will not require much business logic and large scalability, so choosing a monolithic architecture is your best choice.
  • There’s no expertise on microservice: Between monolithic and microservice, the microservice application requires knowledge. If you apply microservice software architecture without any technical expertise, it will waste your resources.
  • Fast launch: If you want to develop a web or software application and launch it right away, the monolithic architecture is your best option. It will work well with fewer initial resources and validate your business ideas.

Using microservices architecture

Microservice expertise/knowledge: Developing a microservice software architecture is extremely risky if you don’t have any support from experts. Besides, knowing software architecture is not enough. You have to get DevOps and Containers knowledge as web development concepts are associated with microservices. Domain modeling knowledge is also important.

A complicated and scalable application: A microservice architecture scales and adds new capabilities to your web application. Thus, if you want to develop a big application with complicated customer journeys, the microservice architecture is the best option.

Enough human resources: Between monolithic and microservice, the microservice will require large human resources. Since a project using microservice architecture includes many teams being responsible for many services, engineering skills from the software developer team is a must.

Which software architecture is better between monolithic and microservice? Each software architecture has its own advantages and disadvantages for every software system distribution. Monolithic architecture fits with a small application and does not have much logic and modules. Meanwhile, microservice architecture fits best with big and complex applications with many things.

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