Monolith vs. Microservices: Which Architecture Is Best for Your Company?

Are you wondering what kind of architecture you should choose for your company? Are you looking for an answer to the question, “What will work better: monoliths or microservices?” Then you are in the right place!

In this article, we will compare monolithic architecture to microservices and outline the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches. This comparison will help you better understand the specifics of each and choose the software architecture best suited to your business. Let’s start the debate on microservices vs. monolith!

Choosing a Software Architecture Style: An Important Business Decision

Choosing the right software architecture determines how your company will operate in the future. It can help avoid common problems and unnecessary costs. Deciding whether you should go with the monolithic approach or microservices will determine how fast changes can be implemented in the future and how different processes in your organization will look.

In most cases, migration to a completely new system is time-consuming and expensive. The exception is when, for example, the monolithic system selected was created and maintained with good manufacturing practices. The good news is that migration to an architecture based on microservices will be much easier in this case.

It is important to highlight that there is no silver bullet or one solution that fits every situation. Many businesses have recently turned to microservices, leaving the monolith system in the past. Despite this trend towards microservices, monolith is not an outdated architecture. Both solutions have their pros and cons, and you should use them in different situations. It all depends on factors such as time, money, and your expectations for the final system configuration.

How can you make the right decision? Check out the key pros and cons of both solutions and decide which one wins your battle of monolith vs. microservices.

Microservices vs monolith — short definition

A monolithic architecture is created as one large system with usually one code-base. Microservices mean something slightly different — in this case, each service and project are working independently at the code level. In other words, microservices architecture is when an application includes small services (each with its own code-base).

Monolith Under Scrutiny: Advantages and Disadvantages

Monolithic applications seem to be suitable in the beginning because they’re usually easier to work with due to the narrow functionality scope. Many people think these solutions are outdated, but that is far from the truth — as we mentioned before, if monolith is properly implemented and maintained, it can bring long-term benefits to your business. Many modern companies, such as Netflix and Amazon, started with a monolith. Over time, as their requirements increased and the companies grew, they migrated to a microservice architecture. In contrast to microservice architecture, monolith is easier to test. The monolith approach is also a good solution when you have limited time and money.

However, this solution is not flawless. When you have a single application, one error can impact the whole system. Additionally, it gets difficult to implement changes because any change affects the whole monolith system. Another disadvantage of using a monolithic application is scalability. You can’t scale components independently. The next thing is that having this system often makes you dependent on one tech provider.

Microservices vs. monolith? Let’s sum up the pros and cons of using the monolithic application first.

Pros:

  • saves time and money
  • simple to deploy
  • easy to test and monitoring
  • for systems of narrow functionality scope
  • simple to develop

Cons:

  • one error affects the whole system
  • limited to one tech provider and one technology
  • difficult changes’ implementation
  • scaling issues
  • difficult to integrate with external systems

Microservices: Key Advantages and Disadvantages

The main advantage of microservices comes from the specificity of this solution — it is a distributed system, and each component is fully autonomous. This design allows for high scalability because each element can be scaled completely independently.

Microservices work very well for systems focused on the development and quick changes. Additionally, the distributed character of microservices improves the way companies work, allowing individual departments to perform tasks independently. Another advantage is the ability to react appropriately in the event of a malfunction. Repairing a particular service quickly in a specific place is highly possible, and doing so does not affect the overall work.

What are some other reasons that have helped microservices gain enthusiasts? One of the often-highlighted advantages is flexibility in choosing technology and service providers. Each microservice can be created with the technology suitable for its functional scope, and development teams are not limited to one tech stack. When choosing this solution, it is easy to involve a large group of developers to work on separate parts of the system, and they will independently deliver the expected end result. A solution organized in this way is also very efficient because independent services can create a system that ensures efficient handling of multiple processes.

The distributed nature of microservices and its complexity bring some disadvantages. Unfortunately, things can become quite complicated, requiring the involvement of many specialists to ensure smooth operations and development as a whole. Testing a microservice application is more complex and sometimes gets difficult. Moreover, if there is a malfunction, it can be challenging to debug the problem. Finally, with distributed solutions, data is usually transferred via the network, reducing the level of security.

Let’s sum up ket pros and cons to make a better choice between microservices vs. monolith.

Pros:

  • better scalability
  • flexibility in choosing technology and service providers
  • ensures efficient handling of multiple processes
  • errors don’t affect the whole system
  • easy to integrate with the external tools

Cons:

  • quite complicated system
  • requires the involvement of many specialists
  • difficult testing
  • gets difficult to debug problems

Microservices vs. Monolith: What Should You Choose?

As you can see, both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, so the final choice should be determined by your business needs.

Monoliths are suitable when you want to get a fast system with a limited functional scope. They’re also a good idea if you are not planning any dynamic development or scaling. Monolith works well when you do not have a complete picture of the target system and intend to explore all the nuances. If you decide to go with a monolith, remember to maintain good software development practices and take care of the modularity and good quality. If you change your mind and choose to migrate to microservices, the whole process will be much easier.

I recommend using microservices, especially when you know the functional scope and architecture of the system well, and plan to develop it dynamically.

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