Application development requires not only in-depth knowledge of programming from the team but also analysis. This is particularly so when working on a big project. The choice of architecture is one of the most crucial factors in influencing the outcome.
Sure, you can say the choice of architecture is the developers’ business and why should you care? But remember, the architecture type impacts the project development costs as well as the ability to include new or improved functions. And if you don’t want to rewrite the entire app, take a little time to learn which architecture type handles what.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at monolithic vs microservices architecture to find out which is suitable for your business and why.
Before starting a new project, you should understand what the application architecture is.
Application architecture describes the behavior of applications used in a business. It focuses on how they interact with each other as well as with users. Well-designed application architecture ensures the ability of the application to scale effectively and work properly over time under a variety of circumstances. This enables one to minimize both business and technical risks associated with building an application, scaling it, and maintaining it in the future.
Note that different architectures suit different projects. But which one will fit yours? When choosing an architectural style for the creation of your app, you should determine your needs, project type, goals, and future outlook.
Now, let’s find out which one is best for your project—monolithic or microservices.
In software development, a monolithic pattern is designed to be a single indivisible unit. Usually, a monolithic app consists of a database, client-side user interface, and server-side application.
All the components have been combined into a single program, and all its functions are managed in one place. They are interconnected and interdependent. So, if any component is updated, the whole application has to be rewritten.
For some situations, the monolithic software architecture works well. For instance, it suits startups that need to get a product up and running as soon as possible. Other companies prefer to stay monolithic despite the popularity of microservices.
So, to find out whether this solution fits your business, let’s consider its pros and cons.
Unlike the monolith model, the microservices approach divides complex applications into smaller parts. The resulting system consists of various services that communicate with each other through a message broker, a database, and a REST API. These services are independently deployable by fully automated deployment machinery.
Microservices also do not suit all app types. For instance, they work well when you have multiple teams or your app is complex enough to break it into services. Companies like Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, eBay, and PayPal have evolved from a monolithic approach to microservices. To find out whether microservices suit your project, let’s consider the pros and cons of this architecture.
What architecture should you choose for your business? It will be more convenient to explain the differences between monolithic and microservices architectures with a comparison table.
|Monolithic architecture||Microservice architecture|
|Development||As all teams operate simultaneously on the same piece of code, the development of monolithic architecture could take more time and effort than microservices.||As each application can be delivered individually, microservices enable rapid app development.|
|Deployment||You can deploy and then customize your solution based on the current changes. Yet, if something runs incorrectly, the whole project can break down.||As each microservice should be implemented individually, the deployment process can be more complicated. But, if something goes wrong, only one module will fail.|
|Reliability||If something goes wrong, the whole structure could stop. Meanwhile, in microservices architecture, breaking one service will not cause critical problems in the overall application.||If one module is broken, the others will continue to operate. This flexibility provides you with fast development and the ability to change one function without interfering with others.|
|Scalability||Scalability is tricky to achieve and upgrade, due to the size and scale of the structure.||In this case, scalability is much easier because you can scale only those modules that require more resources.|
|Release||Due to the microservice architecture, new app features can be released faster and more seamlessly.||A monolith means a single-tiered software application that cannot be divided into smaller units. So, common schedule delays can affect the release of the entire project.|
|Maintenance||For maintenance, you should be aware of .NET, Java, DB2, etc. The testing process is painless, but finding errors and making changes is time-consuming.||With microservice architecture, your teams are likely to use a wider variety of testing techniques that better suit this architecture. This can allow for faster time to market, lower cost, and less risk.|
|Cost||Monolith architecture is more affordable and faster to develop. But note, monoliths require putting your money into a single stock, which is a large risk and strain on the budget.||Microservices are often more expensive than a monolith. But taking into account the developer’s work hours, in the long run, they can cost less than a monolith.|
Above we have defined the terms monoliths and microservices. But what do they really mean?
Monolithic architecture runs on a single application layer that joins all architecture functionalities. This architecture doesn’t involve as many actors as other architectural styles. To build a web architecture using a monolithic approach, you would start developing its front-end and enable its access to data.
Let’s imagine that you are building a new taxi application to compete with Uber. You would create a new project manually or by using a generator that comes with Rails, Spring Boot, Play, or Maven. This new application would have a modular architecture, shown in the following diagram:
Unlike monoliths, microservice architectures consist of independent services with a nothing-shared architecture. This architecture focuses on responsive-actor programming. Here’s a diagrammatic representation for quick understanding:
To save you some clicks, we will explain the difference between monoliths and microservices using one picture that represents them as food.
Following are some points explaining why you should start your project using monolithic architecture:
Excellent examples of monoliths are Flickr, Jira Service Desk, and Etsy (until 2018). These are types of monolithic, PHP-based applications with efficient development models, and they are not deploying once a day.
Note: In 2018, the Etsy online marketplace began a migration of a ten-year-old monolith to the Cloud.
Now, let’s consider some points that show you when you should use microservices:
Large-scale companies like Netflix, eBay, Amazon, the UK Government Digital Service, Twitter, PayPal, and The Guardian have migrated from monolithic to microservices architecture. Let’s consider some success stories:
Microservices architecture has become increasingly popular. But, we can’t say that microservices will work best for one or another project. Your business context is crucial while considering to start with monolith or microservices.
Focus not only on the architectural approach but also on the specific requirements of your project. That will help you to a technical decision. Before choosing the architecture type, you should consider things like business goals, project type and road map, budget, and much more.
For example, a monolithic system often suits better a lightweight music application. For a complex streaming app, we recommend you to choose microservices architecture.
Note that one approach doesn’t fit all projects. Monolithic and microservices both have their advantages and disadvantages.
For a lightweight application, a monolithic system is often better suited. Such apps are faster and easier to develop. However, they are harder to scale.
For a complex, evolving application with clear domains, microservices will be the preferred choice. But, such projects require more time to be developed as well as more management efforts.
To determine the best architecture for your app, you should focus on the specific needs of your business, and analyze your goals along with the app’s scaling plans.
If you want to know which architecture will suit your business app, contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions.