If you are interested in software development, comparing monolithic architecture vs. microservices architecture is helpful. Microservices architecture has been a popular trend in app development for several reasons. However, monolithic architecture has been the standard architecture for decades.
While microservices architecture offers organizations tangible benefits, monolithic applications can also produce robust solutions. Both software development options can produce great results, but the structure of these solutions will be wildly different.
The monolithic architecture is still the default development model for developers. Still, many of the largest, most influential tech companies, such as Netflix, Google, and Amazon, have adopted microservices architecture. As a result, many organizations wonder if this approach would work better for them.
This post will compare monolithic architecture and microservice architecture. We will explain each one and the pros and cons of each software architecture option. If your organization has wondered if it is time to move on from the monolithic architecture, this post will be helpful in the decision-making process.
Comparing Monolithic Architecture and Microservice Architecture
Before an in-depth comparison of the pros and cons of microservices vs. monolithic architectures can be made, you need to understand each one. There are several ways to build successful applications, and when it comes to building applications, what works best for one application might not be the best option for another.
Bear that in mind as you learn more about monolithic and microservices architectures.
What Is Monolithic Architecture?
A monolithic application, also known as a monolith, is an application made up of one large code base. The entire application, including the client-side user interface code, backend code, and configuration files, is part of a single code base.
Monolithic architecture is the traditional approach to building applications. However, while monolithic applications are more traditional, many organizations still prefer and benefit from this approach.
What Is Microservice Architecture?
A microservices application is made up of multiple services with their own independent code bases. In a microservices architecture pattern, every component and function of the application is independent. Together these independent services form one application.
Each component of a microservices application can be scaled and deployed independently of the other modules and services. A microservices-based application relies on APIs to facilitate communication between multiple modules and create the seamless experience of a single application.
Microservices capabilities have made the architectural choice popular lately, but building microservices can lead to a complex system that is more difficult to manage.
The Pros and Cons of Microservice and Monolithic Applications
Now that you know what a microservice and monolithic application are, it will be easier to compare the pros and cons of each. Which software architecture suits your project? Let’s compare the pros and cons of microservices vs. monolithic architectures.
The Pros of Monolithic Applications
The pros of building a monolithic application include the following:
- Easy to develop
- Easy to test
- Easy to secure
Easy to Develop
Monolithic apps are easier to develop than microservices apps. There are two primary reasons why this is generally the case. One, most development teams are capable of building a monolithic app. Two, all the services are centralized in a single code base.
Microservices expertise is necessary to build complex and evolving applications built from small services developed independently. Monoliths are the traditional development approach developers are already familiar with.
Easy to Test
Monoliths are more straightforward to test than microservices since only one code set exists. As a result, there are fewer components to check, and it is easier to keep track of bugs. However, all the microservices need to be tested independently to ensure that there are no issues with the code.
In addition, the connections between microservices need to be tested to ensure that the microservices are interacting with each other as expected.
Easy to Secure
There are security benefits to microservices, but from a simplicity standpoint, it is easier to secure a single code source than code for multiple services. Additionally, with a monolithic application, all of your security needs can be handled in one place instead of tracking vulnerabilities across all of the different microservices in the entire application.
The Cons of Monolithic Applications
There are cons to the monolithic architecture approach, including:
- Hard to scale
- Limited innovation
- Single point of failure
- Hard to manage over time
Hard to Scale
Monolithic apps are difficult to scale because the entire app must be scaled at once. So not only is scaling a monolith expensive, but the ability to scale might be limited. Microservices, on the other hand, are very scalable and flexible.
Adding new technologies or features to a monolith can be difficult and, in some cases, impossible. A monolith is built of interlocking dependencies. If you decide it is time to add new features or services, you might find that your options with a monolithic application are limited.
Single Point of Failure
Since monoliths rely on interlocking dependencies, they have a single point of failure. If one component of a monolith fails, the whole system can crash. Yes, developing a monolith instead of a microservice app might be easier, but it is also easier to crash these applications.
Hard to Manage Over Time
Over time, as a monolith grows, it becomes more challenging to manage as the code gets more extensive and more complex. Changes made to one part of a monolith can affect other aspects of the app in unforeseen ways. Figuring out what changes had what effects on the app can be time-consuming and challenging to manage as new features are added and the code grows.
The Pros of Microservices Architecture
The pros of microservices have many organizations taking a greater interest in the development architecture. The top benefits of microservices are:
- Superior scalability
- Superior flexibility
- Independent services
Scalability is a significant concern for many organizations. Business needs and user demand can change at a moment’s notice. Microservices offer superior scalability to monolithic apps. In addition, Microservices can be scaled independently, which means there is practically no limit to how much a microservices app can scale.
Microservices are far more flexible than monolithic apps. Since each service is independent, new features and technologies can be added quickly. In addition, old features can be removed without concern for how they will affect other application components since there are no interlocking dependencies.
Since each microservice is independent, the entire application won’t fail if one fails. Maintenance won’t affect the entire application when there are bugs that need to be fixed in one service. As a microservice app grows and becomes more complex, organizations can create development teams devoted solely to a single service.
It is basic business logic to create skilled, dedicated teams devoted to maintaining and developing a particular service.
The Cons of Microservices Architecture
Despite its advantages, there are some cons associated with microservices, too, including:
- Greater complexity
- Requires specialized skills
A microservices app is more complex than a monolithic application. The individual services are straightforward, but the connections between them add a layer of complexity that monolith apps don’t deal with.
With greater complexity comes additional difficulties with debugging, deploying, and maintaining an application.
Requires Specialized Skills
Since microservices are more complex, they require specialized developers. If your business wants to implement microservices, consider if your team can navigate the challenges that come with the complexity of this architectural approach. Your organization will likely have to hire specialists with microservice experience.
If you need help determining if monolithic or microservices architecture is the right decision for your applications, reach out to an experienced app development partner. A partner will help you clarify your organization’s needs and goals and choose the right development path for your project.