By 2022, analysts have predicted that software developers can establish more innovative apps on top of microservices. What makes this approach advantageous that any business should consider is that it is the best option for the next project of many business owners?
Microservices architecture has been popular in software development as a powerful tool to create highly scalable apps. The effectiveness of this technology has been well-accepted by several online sites such as Amazon, Netflix, Uber, PayPal, Twitter, and other huge companies that have embraced microservices and are capable of handling billions of user requests daily. However, this does not mean that all firms should resist the conventional method and shift quickly from a monolith to microservices.
In this article, the main advantages and disadvantages of both approaches (monolithic vs. microservices) are discussed. Also, some guidance which is better to use between them is provided.
Definition of a monolithic framework
The term ‘monolith’ is defined as ‘one massive stone.’ When we speak about monolithic, we refer to a concept of a huge unified block. In software development, monolithic architecture means the conventional means to create an app as a sole structure that has a user interface, server-side app, and relational database. All layers and parts of the app are tightly linked. In case, you opt to modify one feature, you have to update the complete app right away.
Advantages of monolithic architecture
The main benefit of the traditional method springs from its simplicity that enables it as suitable for smaller enterprises. When compared to microservices, the monolithic app has the following advantages:
- Development is easier. You have a wide range of potential tools in building standard software. Most development teams have the capacity to create a sole code-based app.
- Deployment is handy. Deploying your app is only done once instead of undertaking several deployments of various files.
- Testing and debugging are made easy. Using a monolith, fewer variables are required and reduce possible risks that something might go wrong in the process.
Disadvantages of monolithic architecture
The setbacks of monoliths are more apparent with the growth of your selected app. Enterprise-grade software always encounters these challenges related to the conventional method:
- Issues when onboarding new hires. The codebase large size and its complex interconnections among tightly coupled components make it difficult to get to know the whole app, especially for newbies in your project.
- Lacking flexibility. The monolithic architecture provides no option than to remain with your selected technology at the early development stage. Also, you can’t enjoy the benefits of new and more advanced frameworks and languages shown in the software development industry.
- Implementing change is time-consuming. Brought by rigid interconnections, adopting modifications to a large and complex app is a burdensome method. Minor as it may seem, alterations impact the performance of the entire system and compel your team to upgrade the whole codebase.
- Fault tolerance is low. This involves changes, bugs, and faults that happen in one part impact other parts. This brings the entire system to go down caused by a minor failure. Once the bug is fixed, retesting the entire app is necessary.
- Scaling limitations. Scaling monolithic apps can’t be done endlessly. As more people employ your software, the more issues you have to deal with in managing all the requests.
- Longer time-to-market for huge apps. It may take months or years to develop an enterprise-grade monolithic application, which means that your product might hit the market too late to be a success.
Definition of a microservices architecture
Through the microservices process, a big application is divided into loosely-coupled parts. Every component works with a specific task. Loose coupling provides a scenario where each service or element has its own lifecycle. It operates its own processes and employs its own logically unique database. These independent components can be created, deployed, scaled, and kept separately. Meanwhile, the rest of the app will function in the traditional way. With this, you can have various frameworks, different programming languages, and several technologies for building different app modules.
Advantages of microservices
Regarding the independence of the components, it provides several benefits in the app design, updates, and scaling. Once you adopt the microservices method, you can have the following advantages:
- Flexibility in technology selection. You can freely employ different tech stacks for every microservice. For instance, one module can be developed with Node.js. Another module can use Python or Java. Your preference is dependent on the available skills of the software engineers and the prerequisites of a specific service.
- Quick delivery of new features to the users. Following the principle of microservices, you can engage different teams where each group is assigned to work in one module but takes full responsibility for its lifecycle. The tasks include design, deployment, and maintenance. With this, mini services are developed faster and the team can release the code part without the need for other modules to be available.
- Updating effectively. In case you are adopting changes to a microservice or redeploying it, the entire system does not need to be updated.
- Fast scaling. Each service can be scaled up independently. It reduces time and effort to develop your product compared to using the monolithic approach.
- Failure resistance. When one service fails, the whole system will not be affected. Also, there are high chances to find a solution and fix a bug using an isolated code piece much quicker than in a large monolith.
- Reusability within the enterprise. What can be reused when employing huge app include login systems, other small services, and file uploaders.
Disadvantages of microservices
In reality, there is no ideal technology for everything. Deploying microservices has pitfalls that you have to consider. Several challenges using this trendy software architecture include:
- Need for reorganizing company. Shifting to microservices, your business has to be decentralized separating it into autonomous groups with the capacity of developing, testing, and operating their designated services.
- Issues with managing communications. To run like a well-planned system, microservices have to maintain proper communication channels with each other through REST APIs or using message queue services. Virtually, you have many mini apps involved in multiple message interchanges. The ongoing ‘chatting’ minimizes performance brought by network latency and the period needed for the system to process messages.
- Evaluation of microservices. Monoliths’ testing is done in a standard way. It is a straightforward app that contains a sole code base that stays in one location. In contrast, microservices are seen in various machines and have to work synchronously through the network. This combines a layer of complexity to the testing system.
- Complexity of development. A microservices app consists of a distributed process that has hundreds of various components with complex interconnections. Experts are required to manage a robust and reliable framework right from the start and supervise it properly in the later stages.
- Operational issues. Other primary concerns brought by microservices are faced by business owners regarding deployment, security, monitoring, and support. Managing 100 to 1000 different services, all these tasks are very difficult to manage. Using available automated solutions (e.g. Kubernetes), this eases things but also adds to the overall complexity while increasing the budget. What’s worse is that investing in these ready-made solutions don’t necessarily provide a good return.