Microservices is a trending topic nowadays in backend software development. It is having a great impact on not only enterprises but also in the digital transformation of mobile application businesses.
There has been a constant debate on Microservices or Monolithic architecture among the software developers which approach should they follow. Should they go with the approach of major companies like Amazon, Google, Netflix etc. or they should go with the simplistic approach that a startup at the development stage requires.
In this article, we are going to discuss which backend architecture a startup should follow when they have just started their journey.
What is Microservices Architecture?
Microservices architecture consists of a mixture of small & autonomous services which are self-dependent and can be implemented as a single business ability. This is a very different approach for software systems development which are focused on developing several single-function modules with clearly-defined operations and interfaces. It has also become a trendy approach in recent years as more startups are going for Agile and make a shift towards DevOps.
Main constituents of the microservices architecture are:
- Small and independent services which are also loosely coupled
- Business or customer scenario encapsulation
- Different codebase of every service
- Independently deployable services
- Services can interact with each other using APIs
Now after knowing what microservices architecture is, let’s also know about monolithic architecture.
What is Monolithic Architecture?
In the monolithic applications, there is a single codebase involved with different modules. The modules are further divided into technical or business features. In this architecture, a single build system can help in developing a complete application. There is also an executable library which is single deployable.
Now as we have learnt about microservices and monolithic architecture, let’s know the merits and demerits of these architectures.
Benefits of Monolithic Architecture
A. No Deployment Dependency:
It is possible in an organized and well-documented Monolithic architecture for developers to not think of which version would be compatible with which service, how to identify which services are available, and what are their functioning, etc.
B. Tracking Errors:
In the monolithic architecture, all the transactions are logged at one place which makes the error tracking cakewalk for the developers.
C. No Silos:
Absence of Silos is a prominent factor in the favour of monolithic architecture against microservices. The developers can easily work on multiple parts of the application as they are similarly structured using the same tools. Hence, no prior distributed knowledge is required.
D. Cross-cutting concerns:
The developers spend time to define the services which don’t overlap with each other’s time while they can use this time for developing more productive things.
E. Code Sharing:
No shared libraries where the complete scope needed for services to operate is sent along with each request.
Monolithic Architecture Limitations:
A. Low Flexibility:
A monolithic architecture is not flexible. A developer can’t use different technologies while working in Monolithic architecture. Thus, the technology stack that you define at the initiation should be used in the whole project.
B. Speed of Development:
In the debate of monolithic vs. microservices, microservices win the race of speed of development. There is a very slow pace of development in monolithic architecture. The team members can find it hard to understand the code and then modify it for large monolithic applications. Also when the codebase size increases, the IDE gets slower.
C. Scalability problems:
Scalability of monolithic applications is hard when the applications are quite large in size. The developers can also create new instances of monolith or load balancer for distributing traffic to different instances, a monolithic architecture can’t scale with increasing load.
Merits of Microservices Architecture:
A. Microservices architecture can easily handle complex issues by app decomposition into manageable service sets which are easy to maintain and faster to develop.
B. The developers can work on independent services within a team which is focused on a particular service. So, this is an ideal choice for those businesses who wish to work in an Agile approach.
C. The developers can adopt new technologies. They have complete freedom to choose whatever technology they want to use in the project.
D. Every microservice can be deployed individually. This results in the continuous deployment of a complex application.
Limitations of Microservices Architecture:
a. Microservices is a distributed system which adds an extra layer of complexity. For resolving complexities, the developers have to implement it through inter-process communication.
b. The developers work on partitioned database architecture. The business transactions which update multiple business entities inside the microservices application also have to update different databases that are owned by multiple services.
c. It is difficult to make changes as the application is spanned across different devices.
d. Microservices application deployment is quite complex. There are many different services, run-time instances, etc.
How to choose between Microservices or Monolithic architecture?
We have learned that both these architectures are having their own set of pros and cons. None of these architectures fits all methodologies while choosing a backend architecture. But there are some questions that you can ask while choosing one.
1. Are you familiar with the architecture?
When you are working in an architecture where you know each and everything of the sector and you know the requirements of your customers, it is easier. If you are new to that then you will face a lot of troubles.
Microservices is best if you know what your customers require, else you can go for the monolithic approach.
2. Is your team ready?
Does your team have expertise in implementing the best practices of microservices, or they are more comfortable working with the monolithic approach? Does your business get to expand in the upcoming time? You should have answers for all these questions while deciding the approach.
3. What is your infrastructure like ?
In the monolithic web application, you will require a cloud-based architecture. You need to use Google Cloud or Amazon AWS for deploying tiny items. The cloud technologies are easy to deal with but setting up a database server for each microservice and then scaling it is not something an entrepreneur will be comfortable with.
4. Did you evaluate the business risk?
In the debate of microservices and monolithic architecture, businesses take the side of microservices. But they forget that the application will not be highly scalable as they are expecting optimistically. They may suffer the risk of adding a highly scalable system in this process.
5. When to choose Monolithic Architecture
- The team is at the funding stage
- You are creating proof of concept
- No experience in microservices
- Have experience in frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Laravel, etc.
6. When to opt for Microservices Architecture
- You want an independent, quick delivery service
- Wants to extend your team
- Require an extremely efficient platform
- Don’t have time constraints
In the debate of microservices vs. monolithic architecture, the former is the current trend. Most of the startup entrepreneurs want to stay their app on this architecture. We, at Amplework, are having expertise in both these architectures. Please let us know your requirements.