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Microservices vs Monolith Architecture

Microservices vs monolith is a hot topic in application development. Choosing one of these software architectures is a major undertaking in developing your business application. Discover why they’re so important and learn how you can choose the right one for your business.    

If you’ve been around developers, you may be familiar with the terms microservices and monolith. These are the models that make up a software application. And over the years, businesses delving into application development have had to deal with the semi-confusing issue between them. There’s a mixed review from the development community as to which one to use. And this doesn’t bode well for business owners. 

Now, if you’re a non-technical founder, learning the technicalities may seem irrelevant. However, the architecture you choose will greatly affect how you reach your business goals. Hence, it’s better to make an informed decision than just blindly following the tech trends. 

To make sure your application runs as planned, you need the most efficient and reliable architecture working behind it. Let’s learn more about it before we conclude the discussion between microservices vs monolith.

Microservices vs Monolith: What works better? 

The whole debate about microservices vs monoliths has gone leaps and bounds throughout the years. There have been mixed reviews from the development side about both architectures. Despite the favored popularity of microservices, it has its set of drawbacks from the lack of maturity. And to this day, there are still experts who strongly argue that monolith is the future

But this wasn’t always the case. Let’s look back at the history of both architectures.  

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How it started

So, where did the whole microservices vs monolith dilemma start? It began when microservices challenged the capabilities of monolith. 

Monolith architecture used to be the default structure for software applications. Developers traditionally built applications with one base code. However, the boom of cloud computing presented new opportunities for development. In 2011, software architects started experimenting with microservices in a workshop. It quickly gained popularity from then on. Netflix and Amazon were the first to pick it up for their operations. Then, most companies followed suit in employing it in their system.

Although microservices architecture is widely used today, it still presents its fair share of issues. The monolith architecture is still superior in certain aspects. Let’s look at what they bring to the table. 

Benefits of Monolith Architecture

Learnability

Since monolith is the traditional structure, all developers are quite familiar with it already. Every tutorial or quick start guide for developers learning a new technology or programming language mostly assumes a monolithic architecture. And high learnability contributes to usability. So, on the business side, it is easier to find and hire people who are comfortable with it.

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Efficiency 

A monolithic architecture also avoids all the extra complexity of multiple services, which is the problem with microservices. 

Imagine establishing multiple companies to work on a single product, each having very specialized roles. For example, one company only develops software, and another only offers customer support services. Although those companies use and benefit each other, they are independent. They each need their own business permits, hiring managers, offices, employee handbooks, and so on. 

In comparison, if those specialized companies are combined into one, they can be registered to the same business name and address, they only need one centralized department for all their hiring and management needs. Many other processes can also be centralized, and this has the potential to save a lot of time and money.

The same can be said with monolithic architecture. The development team will only need to configure the whole application once, on the same server, and all components are ready to go. No need to set up their own processes and configurations for each component. It is much simpler to deploy one big service than multiple ones, and it is much easier to develop.

Benefits of Microservice Architecture

Flexibility

Having independent components is not all that bad. Since each component is independent, a product that uses a microservice architecture is flexible because the developers can freely choose which technologies they want for any component.

And they can change them at any time without affecting each other. On the other hand, there are cases where a monolithic architecture will need to be entirely rewritten just to use new technology.

It may be that you have multiple teams working for an application, and each member of the team has their unique skill set. In a microservice architecture, it’s possible for these teams to focus only on the components that they are involved in, so it is easier for them in that respect. 

Scalability

The architecture is also more scalable because each component is independently scalable. It’s possible that only one component needs to cost more, instead of the whole system, depending on how the customers use it. It is also easier to add more features and more components to the architecture without affecting the existing ones.

In a microservice architecture, a fault in one component will not affect the entire application as much as with the monolithic architecture. The great thing about having separate components is the isolation of errors. The application will still run even though part of its component is malfunctioning. This means users can still access the application even with the faulty component at hand. 

Additionally, when it comes to implementing new features, microservices reduce the risk of ruining the whole application. Developers can confidently tweak and do bug-fixing on one component, not worrying about dire consequences. This is great for business since it won’t cause inconvenience for users. 

Which software architecture is better for business

In the end, only the business owner can answer the microservices vs monolith question. You have to assess your goals carefully. Both have their pros and cons, and it all depends on what you really need them for. 

A monolith architecture is very useful if you want to quickly launch a small and simple application to the market. With this type of product, you may not want all the extra costs and complexity of a microservice architecture. 

However, if your application is complex, and you want to keep up with the changing demands of your existing customers, you may want it to be flexible and scalable. In this case, you may want to opt for a microservice application. 

Nonetheless, this type of decision doesn’t need to be permanent. The great thing about the tech world is that it allows a lot of room for changes. Many companies, such as Amazon, Netflix, and Uber, started out with a monolith and eventually changed into using microservices.

Some even ping-ponged several times to both architectures before they finally settled. These companies have shown that once you have chosen an architecture, you don’t have to stick to it until the end.

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