Monolith vs Microservices Business Architecture for Software Development

Shifting Trends

A relatively recent trend in business architecture has been the shift to microservice oriented platforms, particularly in regards to the software industry. The microservices approach offers a number of tangible benefits including flexibility, agility, and scalability. Several tech giants including Netflix, Google, and Amazon have already successfully moved away from a monolithic architecture. Other smaller companies have followed their lead, proving that utilizing microservices is also an effective means of spurring business growth. 

We’ve put together this blog to compare the differences between monolithic and microservice architectures to help you decide what works best for your business.

What is Monolithic Business Architecture?

Monolithic architecture is the traditional ‘standard’ model for creating and selling softwares and services. Monolithic software and apps are built and sold as a single, indivisible unit. They are typically composed of a client-side UI, a server-side application, and a central database. All of the functions and features are managed and executed together in one place. Typically, monolithic services rely upon a single large code database which usually lacks modularity. If developers need to make changes or updates, they must access the same central codebase which affects the whole stack.

Strengths of a Monolithic Structure:

  • Easy to deploy-The monolithic approach offers a simplified deployment of your apps and services. Since everything comes from a single file or directory, everything deploys all at once. This eliminates the need for multiple deployments across your product.
  • Simplified development process-Since the monolithic approach is the standard and traditional method for building apps, development teams typically have the most experience developing in this way. Working from a single directory or code base also makes development easier, although not without some drawbacks of its own.
  • Streamlined testing and debugging-In comparison to microservices architecture, the monolithic approach is significantly easier to debug. Because everything runs from a single code base, end-to-end testing is much faster.
  • Fewer cross-cutting issues-Cross-cutting concerns are pieces of a program that either rely upon or affect many other parts of that same program such as caching, logging, handling, and performance tracking. Using a monolithic service architecture means that this area of functionality concerns only a single application, which means it’s much easier to address these issues.

Drawbacks of a Monolithic Structure

  • Scalability-When using the monolithic approach, developers cannot scale individual components independently. Instead, the whole application must be scaled in its entirety.
  • Fine-tuning-When every feature is coupled together it becomes significantly harder to introduce any changes, especially as systems grow larger and more complex over time. Any tweaks to the code affect the entire system, which means a great deal of planning and coordination must happen before any changes are introduced.
  • Complexity-As a monolithic app scales up over time, it becomes immensely complicated. Dealing with this level of complexity in a single app can become a nightmare for development teams.
  • Technology barriers-Introducing any type of new technology to a monolithic app is a time consuming process. Because everything is linked together, it isn’t possible to introduce a new module. The entire app must effectively be rewritten to incorporate the new technology

What is Microservice Business Architecture?

Monolithic architecture is the traditional ‘standard’ model for creating and selling softwares and services. Monolithic software and apps are built and sold as a single, indivisible unit. They are typically composed of a client-side UI, a server-side application, and a central database. All of the functions and features are managed and executed together in one place. Typically, monolithic services rely upon a single large code database which usually lacks modularity. If developers need to make changes or updates, they must access the same central codebase which affects the whole stack.

Strengths of the Microservice Architecture:

  • Easy to understand-Because a microservices app is split into components, it is significantly easier to understand and manage. If you have a specific business goal in mind, you can simply fine-tune the related components and modules.
  • Self-contained components-Every service within your app can be developed, maintained, and updated independently from each other, giving you greater flexibility and control. When a bug arises, it impacts only that specific service and does not cause problems across the entire app. On top of that, integrating new technology and features is a breeze because you aren’t working from a single, centralized code base.
  • Improved scalability-Microservice architecture is cost and time effective because each element can be scaled independently. As the framework of your app grows with each new customer, a monolithic app becomes bloated and more difficult to introduce changes. Eventually, the app will need to be rewritten to accommodate this growth and the introduction of new features. Microservice apps avoid these headaches all together by allowing easy scaling of each service.
  • Easy integration of new technologies-While a monolithic app would require a fresh start and rebuilding the app from scratch, the microservice approach allows developers to introduce entirely new technologies and frameworks without hassle.
  • Increased agility-Any error within a microservices application will affect only that service and not the application as a whole. Because of this, any changes or updates can be implemented with significantly lower risks.

Weakness of the Microservice Architecture:

  • Complexity-Because microservice architecture is a distributed system, you must manually establish the connections between the various modules and databases. And because each service relies upon its own code base, they have to be deployed individually.
  • Cross-cutting concerns-In comparison to monolithic architecture, microservice architecture struggles with cross-cutting concerns. Things like configuration, metrics, logging, and health checks will have to be externalized.
  • Extra testing-As a monolithic app scales up over time, it becomes immensely complicated. Dealing with this level of complexity in a single app can become a nightmare for development teams.
  • Technology barriers-Having a multitude of independent components and services to deploy means a microservices-based approach requires extensive testing before deployment.
Kassidy Jezierski Blog Image

Kassidy Jezierski is the Operations Lead at Lithios. She works to clearly communicate the capabilities and optimal engagement opportunities between Lithios and its clients. In her free time, she enjoys finger-painting pictures of lambs and docile sheep.

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