These days, it's hard to argue with the fact that the quality and functionality of an application also directly affect the economic growth of your enterprise. Depending on your business needs, you can create an application with monolithic or microservices architecture. The monolithic architecture used to be favored, but in recent years many companies are switching to microservices. Let's try to figure out why this is happening and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of both approaches.
The essence of both architectures
When working on applications, each developer deals with architectural specifics. In previous generations, most software companies designed purely monolithic applications. “Monolith” in any professional field means something presented as one piece, which makes sense for applications as well. Thus, a monolithic application is a single-tier, self-contained, and independent of other computing applications software. It combines the user interface and data access code into a single program on a separate platform and works as one indivisible unit.
Concerning microservices, the app structure is more complex. Here, the application looks like a collection of small, isolated units that run each process as a separate service. All the services perform their particular functions, have their own logic and database.
Monolithic vs microservices: which one is better?
Monolithic vs microservices? Many loudly declare: monolithic applications are a thing of the past. However, they still have advantages to consider before deciding on application architecture.
First, monolithic applications are easy to develop because any engineering team obviously has many years of experience building these traditional applications. Second, they're simple to deploy as you only need to handle one file and copy the application to a server. Finally, end-to-end testing and bug fixing are much faster, too.
Why is this approach losing its supporters? Probably, due to the difficulty of scaling. If one function fails, the entire application will crash leaving the customers highly dissatisfied. If you plan an update to the system, be ready to redeploy the application. Another possible scenario is when demand for one particular feature grows, developers have to increase resource limits for the entire application, not just for one specific feature.
A reasonable solution to these problems would be a transition to a microservice architecture. Since this kind of architecture implies isolated and independent features that run on their own containers, any of them can be scaled and updated without affecting the whole application.
Microservices architecture is also easier to understand because the developers can split up the app into smaller components and work on them separately. Your business goals determine which features are essential, and the engineering team pays close attention while designing them.
The microservices architecture is not deprived of drawbacks either. As a distributed system, all the services have to be deployed separately. The developers have to choose how to connect autonomous modules and databases and handle the process carefully.
Even though microservices give freedom to try different technologies and innovations inside the app, it's still important not to overdo here. A piece of advice: keep the application under strict control and implement standardized approaches, languages, and design. These actions will allow you to maintain the integrity of your application and grow the stream of customers.
Moving to microservices
Modern requirements, growing user flow, and a strive for innovation have led to a massive shift from traditional monolithic application methods to microservices architecture design. The changes have already been adopted by both small firms and large companies. Netflix, Uber, Amazon, SoundCloud, and Spotify are just a few of them. Netflix, for instance, was at the forefront of the early microservices architecture adopters.
Despite the widespread opinion that monolithic architecture is dying and microservices are a must-have for every company, we strongly recommend that you do research and carefully evaluate each type of architecture. If you have a small team, your business is a startup, and you want to launch your application faster, a monolithic architecture may be enough to achieve your business goals.
To implement microservices, you need several teams of competent experts who can create a large application with numerous modules and functions. With enough resources and a detailed plan, you can upgrade to a microservices architecture.
Now you have more information at your disposal to decide where you stand in the ongoing monolithic vs microservices dilemma.