Microservices are effectively pushing out monolithic architecture from the market. Industry leaders are now building their empires on microservice architecture. But why is this approach to architecture chasing out the traditional monolithic structure? Let’s find out which is better for business and why.

Advantages and disadvantages of monolithic

This paragraph is dedicated to those who don’t know or are only partially aware of what microservice and monolithic architectures are. If you are already up to speed, you can skip this part ;)

What is monolithic architecture? It is a traditional model for software in which the structure is a single and indivisible unit. A monolith has one code base with multiple modules. This architecture has been the go-to functioning model for many years and countless applications have been successfully built as monoliths. What are the pros of monolithic architecture?

  • Starting a new project and developing it is simpler using monolithic architecture
  • It is much easier to test structure that is a monolith
  • Components like frameworks, templates or scripts can be easily applied 
  • Deployment is very simple. All you have to do is paste the previously prepared application to the server

Like any solution, monolithic architecture has its drawbacks. Here’s a list of some disadvantages:

  • A large code base can be significantly harder to understand
  • The Integrated Development Environment can become overloaded, and size may also slow down startup time.
  • Every element is closely related and dependent on the others, so it is difficult to change to a new or advanced technology, language, or framework. 
  • Updating can be a challenge as it redeployment of the application.
  • Problems with scalability, because each element has different resource requirements.
monolith vs microservice
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Microservice architecture in a nutshell

Unlike monolithic architecture, which consists of one element, microservices are created by cooperating services. Each of them is a small-scale service that performs functions from a single business area. Microservices were born out of SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture), as a solution to the challenges associated with monolithic applications. The division of large projects into small ones has gained more importance, especially among developers, and the impact of microservices on eCommerce is significant. One of the main reasons why the independent modules met with positive reception is its ability to manage the API and perform specific tasks. Microservice architecture divides services into small, autonomous elements, each with its own independent function. 

Why has microservices gained such popularity among key players like Zalando, Netflix, and Amazon? Primarily, a departure from monolithic architecture has made it possible to relieve programmers. They no longer need to maintain large projects. Thanks to microservices, they can focus on small parts of independent projects. It is also easier to introduce new people to the project. It is not necessary to familiarize them with the entire monolith, but only a small part of it.

Monolith vs microservices

What architecture should you choose for your business? We’ve broken the decision down into the different areas that you might consider, and assessed each one in both scenarios. 

AreaMonolith architectureMicroservices architecture
DeploymentThis architecture allows you
to deploy once and then
customize your solution
based on current changes.
But if something goes wrong,
the whole project will break
down. 
Deployment is a complex
process in microservices.
Each microservice must be
implemented separately, which
extends the implementation
process. If something
goes wrong, only one
microservice will be damaged,
and it will be easier to fix it.
MaintenanceMaintenance in a monolithic
architecture requires an IT
team that specializes in multiple
platforms, like Pascal, .NET, Java, or
DB2. Finding errors and making
changes takes a lot of time in the
monolith. However, testing itself is
simple and will be done in one go.
Maintenance in microservices
is faster than in monolith.
Smaller services are also easy to test,
saving programmers time.
Over time, it increases
efficiency and saves money. 
ReliabilityIf it comes to reliability, the monolith
has no chance against microservices.
If something goes wrong in
monolithic architecture, it can stop
the whole structure. Meanwhile, in
microservices architecture,  breaking
one service will not cause critical
problems in the overall
application. 
Microservices are stable and
mostly reliable. Breaking one part
only affects that element, while the
others remain intact. Such flexibility
allows for a fast pace of development
and the introduction of changes in
one function without interfering with
others.
ScalabilityScalability in monolithic
architecture is difficult to
achieve due to the size and
scale of the structure. This option
is hard to upgrade.
In the case of microservices,
scalability is much easier because
we can scale only those parts that
require more resources.
DevelopmentThe development of monolithic
architecture takes a little bit longer
than microservices. This is due to the
need for a parallel operation on the
same code by all teams. 
Microservices guarantee fast
development. Teams don’t
have to work in parallel, as they
do in monolithic architecture,
because each application can
be delivered independently. 
ReleasesA monolith is a one-piece structure
which cannot be separated into
smaller elements.That is why
everything must be ready before
release. Potential delays in the work of
the team will impede the entire project.
Due to the structure, microservices
allow for faster releases of new
features. 
CostMonolith architecture is more
affordable and faster to develop,
but each case must be considered
individually. For businesses, monoliths
involve one huge investment, which is
a higher risk and a bigger strain
on the budget.
Microservices are usually more
expensive, and the whole
development takes more time
than in monolith. But in the long
run, they can cost less, if we count
developers’ work time in
the long-run will be less
than with a monolith. 

Summary

Like everything, these two technologies both have their advantages and disadvantages. Monolithic architecture is a solid solution for simple eCommerce applications or blog platforms, especially when ongoing changes and development are not predicted. Microservices have grown to become a better fit for complex applications and are the modern solution in a time when constant improvement and development of sites and services is the norm. 

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Ola Mazur

Junior Editor at Divante eCommerce Software House | LinkedIn | Twitter

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