Monolithic Applications vs Microservices

The big question we have today: Should your business remain grounded in the solid stability of traditional monolithic architecture or is it time to migrate to microservices which are gaining widespread support from businesses? The answer lies in the challenges posed by a fast-changing environment and the new demands emerging from changing consumer preferences. Here we have compared Monolithic Applications vs Microservices and which Works Best for You?

Monolithic Applications vs Micro Services

Applications development has to move a notch higher to address three concerns – flexibility, adaptability, and scalability – and these changes are spurred by consumers that are net-enabled through handheld devices. Any decision regarding the kind of architecture you require depends on how you respond to these challenges. But you can’t take a decision without knowing the pros and cons of each architecture.

IT Management experts explain the intricacies of monolithic and microservices architectures in a way that makes it clear to businesses where their priorities should lie:

The Monolithic Architecture

Monolithic architecture is a software applications platform. It offers a common memory space and all the resources needed to create a single code, and a singular build system and executable binary. It lays the foundation for running multiple business models.

Monolithic Applications architecture

It was (still is) the go-to platform for desktop device users leveraging browsers that didn’t need APIs to develop enterprise apps.

Basic Features

  • The code unifies the system into one single database that could be subdivided into packages. Once the code is finalized, it is shared by all nodes simultaneously.
  • The code is accessible to all nodes at the same time. When you are mapping the software to its environment, you have to execute, stop, and restart the software.
  • There’s an internal protocol that enables coded units to communicate among themselves.
  • When coded sequences are changed and repeated, the application grows bigger and may slow down operations.
  • Every coded component functions like a separate unit, but scaling one component requires scaling of the entire application.

The Benefits Bestowed by a Monolithic Architecture

The massive easy to use monolithic platform has laid the foundation for a host of servers, IT frameworks, applications tools, interfaces, and scripts. Popular among developers, there isn’t any application that doesn’t owe its existence to monolithic origins.

It’s processing is simple and straightforward. Copying an archive to a single directory is all that is required to create a packaged application.

An application is deployable instantly with all its features being usable and testable. There are no additional dependencies needed for an application launch. There is little or no waiting period to test features before launching any application.

The single source unified code makes it possible to access and share code at any stage in the development of the application.

Design compatibility makes the monolith operable in any IDE environment. The simplicity of the monolithic architecture makes it the ideal tool for any developer.

Drawbacks of a Monolithic Architecture

Though the monolithic architecture forms the base for many of today’s applications, its disadvantages prompt users to shift applications development to microservices.

  • As applications move from simpler solutions to greater complexity, the coding solidifies into an incomprehensible mass that new developers struggle to decipher. It becomes a chore to affect new changes when the component parts are so closely interdependent.
  • Even the smallest of changes require the entire application to be redeployed. The limited agility makes developers stop to analyze the overall impact before confirming new changes. This becomes challenging when different teams are involved in the development process. Newer application changes and innovations take their own time to develop.
  • Transitioning to any new technology becomes tediously slow. As the whole system needs to be overhauled, businesses may find themselves losing ground in a fast-changing business environment that demands instant software solutions across the board.
  • If every change, major to minor, requires a complete systems overhaul, companies face an uphill task in thrusting innovation and integration. The whole exercise of applications development and testing becomes self-defeating.
  • A codebase that increases in complexity with every change slows down processing time and delays implementation.
  • In an environment where all complement parts are intricately connected, debugging the system becomes an onerous task, impacting the reliability of the system.

The Microservices Architecture

The shift to Microservices architecture was prompted by the dominance of handheld devices in a market that was previously saturated with desktop devices. With a significant population accessing the net through mobiles, the demand for mobile-optimized websites grew.

The insatiable appetite of mobile users for apps demanded that businesses improvise and deliver faster software upgrades. Developers needed access to improved APIs due to the incompatibility of legacy data exchange formats with mobile devices. This shift in consumer preference created the microservices revolution.

Microservices Architecture

Microservices architecture represents a single large application split up into a host of component parts each performing a specific function. Microservice components function independently of each other. Accessing microservices under one umbrella network enables an application to work faster and more cohesively in implementing software solutions.

Basic Features of Microservices Architecture

  • Unlike the monolithic application, each microservice code occupies an isolated archive using an independent memory source.
  • Inter-microservice communication is tackled by developers by coding the logical premise that tackles issues as and when problems crop up.
  • Repetitive changes no longer pose a problem because of each microservice functions independently. The change affected in one microservice doesn’t escalate into a change in the overall network.
  • Each microservice is a scalable entity without affecting the entire application.
  • It is now possible to use a shareable library of data for cross-checking application performance.
  • Software upgrades, testing, and deployment become faster and more efficient.

The Benefits Bestowed by Microservices Architecture

The advantages of using microservices are too obvious to need elaboration. Nevertheless, here are the major pros.

  • A variety of languages and multiple new technologies can be accessed for developing applications.
  • Since each component service has its own code, innovating is a much easier task for the developer.
  • Each component can be scaled in any direction without impacting the overall system.
  • Debugging can be restricted to each microservice without worrying about impacting the whole application.
  • Companies can create teams of developers each handling a clutch of microservices without creating territorial disputes.

Drawbacks of Microservices Architecture

Despite some major takeaways, microservices can still pose problems for developers.

  • The advantages of having independently functioning microservices at your disposal can make it tedious to test the whole app in differing environments.
  • It becomes complicated when you’re handling independently archived databases. Advanced management tools such as Docker are easing these operational headaches.
  • The separation of modules could sometimes slow down the pace of application development. The coordination between various teams assumes importance.
  • The level of expertise you need to handle microservices is higher. Each team needs a core of specialized talent to handle emerging issues.

How Businesses Are Handling the Monolithic-to-Microservices Paradigm Shift

Netflix is a great endorsement for Microservices architecture. Netflix realized that you can’t hold demanding mobile users to ransom using the slow-moving monolithic architecture. The mobile user with an insatiable appetite for apps needed a faster response that only microservices could provide. By shifting to microservices, Netflix delivered faster connections, and better control, generating a whole new ambiance for mobile users.

Not to be left out, Google, Amazon, and IBM joined the microservices bandwagon. But monolith hasn’t vanished just yet. Large eCommerce platforms such as Etsy still swear by monolithic architecture, and it’s working brilliantly for the company. John Allspaw, vice president of operations and infrastructure at Etsy maintains that the company has been successful in evolving its technology (leveraging monolith) to notch up higher levels of productivity and profitability.

The Bottom-Line: There Is No Applications-Architect That Fits All Cases, but Businesses Are Not Short of Options

What works brilliantly for A needn’t work for B. Decide the scope of your needs and the scale of your business. Then take a close look at the pros and cons of differing architectures.

Small and medium-sized businesses working on smaller applications can make do with a monolithic framework. Such businesses can handle small teams drawing from a common pool of codified resources, with each team retaining its flexibility.

The microservices architecture is well suited to larger businesses that need scalability to handle greater web traffic. Complex operations need large databases, and clusters of teams to handle specific tasks. Above all this, you need a system that is capable of processing real-time data in a faster, more integrated manner. For such companies, splitting larger software into smaller components speeds up software delivery to cater a fast-growing market.