When it comes to rolling out technology stacks, a business may choose to deploy a single platform that combines many functions or choose an approach that utilizes microsystems to integrate different services from multiple vendors.
So, let’s understand the concept of monolithic architecture vs microservices which is the best choice for your business.
What is Monolithic Architecture?
A monolithic application is designed to handle numerous related tasks. It usually refers to a traditional software design where different components are tightly integrated into a single, self-contained unit, sharing one codebase.
The word “monolith” is often associated with something large and glacial which is relevant to the structure of a monolith architecture for software design.
For example, consider a monolithic e-commerce SaaS application. It would usually comprise a web server, a load balancer, a catalog service that provides product images, an ordering system, a payment function, and a shipping component. Therefore, monolithic tools tend to have huge codebases as their broad scope.
The structure of a monolithic application simplifies the initial management and deployment of software as it can be released at once. But, if there is any change or update to specific functionalities, then it would require modifying the entire system, making the entire process time-consuming and less agile.
Advantages of Monolithic Architecture
An organization can choose monolithic architecture based on different factors. These applications can be quite effective because of the simplicity of having an application based on a single codebase. Let’s check out the advantages of a monolithic architecture:
- Streamlined Deployment
The unified nature of a monolithic architecture simplifies its deployment process as all components are condensed into one executable file or directory. The unified approach minimizes any conflicts often observed in distributed systems.
- Smooth Development Process
A monolithic application is created on a single code base that streamlines the development process. It reduces the complexities of bringing together different components, fostering swift development, and facilitating easier collaboration among developers and teams.
- Efficient Performance
With a centralized codebase, a monolith app often uses one API to perform functions as compared to a microservice environment which would require multiple APIs. This elevates the performance by reducing network delay and overhead associated with inter-service communication.
- Simplified Testing
This application allows complete end-to-end testing as it is presented in the form of a single and centralized unit. It helps in faster testing than a distributed system.
- Easy Debugging
All the codes are located in one place in a monolithic application, making it easier to find any issue which leads to quicker resolution times during debugging phases.
Disadvantages of Monolithic Architecture
Despite its certain advantages, monolithic applications can fall short in the following cases:
- Slow Development Speed
As monolithic applications are larger and more complex in nature, it can impede the development speed. Challenges in coordination may also arise in terms of managing a vast codebase which also slows down iterations and hinders agile development practices.
- No Scalability
Monoliths lack the flexibility to scale individual components independently. This makes it challenging to allocate resources based on specific needs and often leads to resource wastage.
- Reliability and Flexibility Challenges
A single error within a monolithic architecture can affect the functionality of the entire application. Even if there are minor changes, you would need to mandate redeployment for the entire monolith.
- Barriers to Technology Adoption
The architecture confines a monolith to the technologies initially used, limiting its adoption of newer and more efficient technologies that could help in improving its functionality or performance.
What are Microservices?
A microservice architecture, also known as microservices, is an architectural method comprising independently deployable services. These services encapsulate specific business logic and databases with a specific goal.
Microservices deploy smaller, loosely connected applications integrated through an application integration mechanism. This makes it easier for developers to improve them through continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). Moreover, they can be written in any programming language and can communicate with other microservices through APIs.
Unlike monolithic architecture, microservices break down major concerns into discrete, standalone codebases, making complexities more visible and manageable. These services operate independently and contribute autonomously towards a larger system. This approach aligns with DevOps, fostering continuous delivery practices for swift adaptation to user needs.
Advantages of Microservices
Microservice architectures solve numerous problems for growing software companies. Since this architecture can run independently, each service can be deployed, updated, deployed, and scaled without affecting other services. So, let’s take a look at the benefits of microservices:
- Flexible Scaling
Microservices promotes agile practices with smaller and more frequent deployments by smaller teams. This leads to rapid deployment of new services which alleviates load pressure and supports larger instance size.
- Continuous Deployment
The nature of microservice architecture enables it for faster release cycles, transitioning from weekly to multiple updates per day.
- Easy Maintenance and Testable
Microservices have loosely connected applications which makes it easy to identify if there are any errors, fix bugs, and implement new features and updates without having to disrupt the entire architecture from its root-like monoliths.
- Technology Adaptability
It grants teams the freedom to choose preferred tools and technologies. This provides greater autonomy along with faster development and deployment process, also positively impacting team morale and productivity.
- High Reliability
With microservices, you can make changes to specific services without raising the entire application’s stability. Moreover, it allows for quick and separate deployment of individual features because of its modular nature, making it highly reliable and flexible.
Disadvantages of Microservices
The limitations of microservices are:
- Development Sprawl
Microservices add more complexity since there are more services in more places created by different developers or teams. If development sprawl isn’t properly managed, it can slow down the development speed and hinder operational performance.
- High Cost
Each new microservice can have its test suite, deployment playbook, hosting infrastructure, and more, making it significantly costly. Additionally, since multiple teams are involved, the need for communication and collaboration tools also increases organizational overhead.
- Debugging Challenges
Debugging complications can occur due to each microservice having its own set of logs. Plus, a single business process can run across various machines, further complicating the process.
- Lack of Standardization and Ownership
The lack of a common platform can result in issues when it comes to logging standards, monitoring, and more. Moreover, as more services are introduced in microservice applications, it increases the number of teams running these services. This can lead to internal conflict and confusion in identifying which team can be contacted for support.
Microservices vs Monolithic Architecture
Now, that we know the concept of the two architectures, let’s understand the difference between monolithic and microservices architectures:
|Complex implementation due to inherent complexity
|Relatively quicker rollout in smaller, manageable parts
|Control and Ownership of Data
|Data integration within monolith is constrained
|Allows more flexibility to access and integrate own data
|Offers a wide range of related functions within one unit
|Not limited by architecture and easily integrates with systems
|Return on Investment (ROI)
|Deployment in larger, integrated units
|Incremental deployment for faster time to market and ROI
It should also be noted that monolithic systems may offer comprehensive support from a single vendor. However, it can be complex to implement. They cover different functions but may not integrate well with other systems.
On the contrary, microservices facilitate flexible data integration and enable faster rollouts in smaller units. That is why the industry trend leans towards microservices due to their adaptability and integration capabilities.
Tips to Migrate from Monolith to Microservices
The need to change from monolithic to microservices may arise because of various reasons. It can be because adding new features becomes cumbersome every single time or code conflicts occur because of frequent updates. In such a case, follow the tips for a seamless migration:
- Plan a Migration Strategy: The foremost step is to identify the sequence of how you want to migrate your customers. Understand the different customer profiles and how they use the software to segment the migration process.
- Select Relevant Tools: Invest in relevant tools that make the migration process seamless. Automate as much as possible using interactive dashboards and observe the changes in real time.
- Manage Expectations: Since this might be a big transformation, a senior executive should take the role of managing and informing all stakeholders about the progress and expected benefits.
- Embrace Cultural Shift: Foster cultural shift so that the whole migration can be done without any disruption. Remember that proper communication is the key to success.
- Balance Speed and Trust: Maintain a balance between speed and reliability so that you can maintain rapid progress, and prioritize customer experience, and reliability aligned with core values.
Thus, both monoliths and microservices have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. Businesses can choose whichever architecture fits their requirements and aligns with their customer needs.