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Monolith vs Microservices: How Should You Design Your Architecture?

September 15, 2023




Microservices are becoming increasingly popular as the next flexible, scalable, and dependable approach. With cloud providers such as AWS and Azure at the forefront of this trend. Many developers are reconsidering their application development methods. While many people have jumped on the microservices bandwagon, it is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Before deciding on the best path forward in your application development undertakings, it’s critical that you understand the differences between monolithic and microservices applications, as well as the inherent benefits and drawbacks of each. So, let’s get started.

What is a Monolith Application?

Because monolithic development was once quite popular, many traditional applications fall under the category of monolithic applications. Monolithic development produces single-tier applications in which every component required by the application is built into the application itself.

Due to the design of a monolithic application, modifying a feature is complicated. Because the applications have so many dependencies, even a minor update is tricky, and all users must download an entirely new version for the application to work. As a result, most monolithic applications are developed using a waterfall development process, with changes released on an annual or semi-annual basis.

What are the Pros and Cons of Monolith Application?

While the concept of monolithic applications appears to contradict many modern best practices for application development, there are some cases where a monolithic application may be ideal. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of monolithic applications will help you decide if there is ever a good time to use this approach.

Pros of Monolithic Applications

  • Monolithic applications are straightforward to create, test, and deploy. Because everything is housed together, developers will prefer how simple it is to launch the application.
  • Horizontal scaling is always an option. Many people believe that scaling a monolithic application is difficult, but they can easily scale horizontally. To meet demand, teams simply run multiple copies of the app behind a load balancer. Of course, this is easiest to do in one direction because scaling back is difficult once you’ve scaled up.
  • Monolithic applications have a single codebase for everything, and there are fewer cross-cutting concerns when it comes to logging and performance monitoring.

Cons of Monolithic Applications

  • Monolithic applications are fixed and linear by nature, which contributes to tight components coupling. The team’s ability to manage, scale, and update the application over time is hampered by entanglement and coupling.
  • A single blunder might bring the entire system down. Monolithic applications have significant reliability issues. Because of the close connection of components, if one component fails, the entire application may become unusable.
  • Updates necessitate the re-deployment of the entire application. Developers must re-deploy the entire application for every upgrade since there is one enormous codebase with components that are so tightly tied together.
  • Developers must employ the same technology stack throughout the program to create a monolithic application. It’s difficult to make adjustments to this tech stack down the road.

What is a Microservices Application?

Microservices is more than simply a development approach; it’s a broader approach to systems architecture that has ramifications across an organization. The notion is attractive, and it can provide a slew of benefits. But organizations that implement microservices properly consider the ramifications.

Microservices applications, to put it simply, are loosely linked applications. Rather than constructing a single, all-encompassing program, such as a monolith, the microservices strategy tries to split each application down into autonomous functionality components called “microservices.”

Microservices are often bundled into containers, which are runtime environments that only contain the elements required to operate the microservice. This allows developers to pick and choose microservices and piece them together, allowing them to build apps. Microservices allows each service to be added, altered, or completely withdrawn from an application without affecting other microservices.

What are the Pros and Cons of Microservices Application?

Microservices’ loose coupling and independence have made them a de facto DevOps standard. Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of microservices to see if they’re suited for your development projects.

Pros of Microservices Applications

  • Microservices are highly scalable. One of the most significant advantages of employing microservices is that each component (i.e., microservices) may be scaled up independently of the others, making resource optimization a breeze.
  • Change is made easier by loose coupling. Because one microservice is loosely connected to the other, development teams can simply test each component independently and make modifications as needed.
  • Better fault isolation. When one of your microservices fails, it won’t bring your entire application down with it. In fact, you’ll be able to work independently with that broken microservice and get it back up and running faster.
  • It doesn’t matter what language you use or what technology you use. You may choose the appropriate programming language or platform for each individual service with microservices, making it simple to use the best-matched toolstack.

Cons of Microservices Applications

  • Microservices requires a higher technical skill demand comparing to Monolith approach. Having a team that’s able to support them is the key.
  • It’s not easy to keep track of and monitor what’s going on. While breaking down your apps into different components simplifies development, it makes tracking and monitoring things like performance and problems much more complicated and expensive.
  • Implementation can be difficult and time consuming. By failing to adequately plan out the implementation process and effectively modify their methodology and infrastructure, many teams entirely negate the benefits of introducing microservices. As a result, transitioning to microservices required a significant amount of work and research than necessary.

When and Why Should You Choose Monolithic Development?

Many developers are quick to reject “traditional” development methodologies like monoliths as the popularity of microservices has grown. However, microservices approach is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Overall, monolithic architecture is the way to go if:

  • You’re part of a small development team. Don’t put the complexity of microservices on your shoulder. A monolith will be able to meet your requirements without requiring you to change your entire development strategy.
  • You’re making a simple application. This type of application does not have to meet the flexibility or scalability needs of larger, more complicated applications.
  • Do you need to launch it quickly? A monolith application will assist you in developing and launching the solution as quickly as possible, lowering your initial expenditures and allowing you to validate the idea sooner. 

When and Why Should You Choose Microservices  Development?

It is true that microservices come with plenty of benefits and it being deployed by large organizations. However, microservices simply aren’t feasible for everyone. In fact, microservices applications can be needlessly costly and hard to monitor.

Before you choose microservices for your applications, keep in mind that developing microservices is a difficult task that should not be underestimated. Microservices might be the correct fit if:

  • Your entire crew is well-versed in microservices. To properly integrate microservices architecture and follow best practices, you and your team must have the relevant skills and knowledge.
  • You’ve got everything you need. Multiple dedicated teams are required to properly implement and manage microservices. So, in addition to knowledge, make sure you have sufficient resources available to devote to the project.
  • You’re working on a large-scale application with a lot of moving parts. When working with very complex applications that require a high level of scalability, this is where microservices design really shines.


Written by Ethan

Cloud Solutions Architect. Full Stack Web Developer. Cloud Enthusiast. Gym rat. I'm a driven, detail oriented, Cloud Solution Architect based in Pittsburgh, PA. Experienced in both networking and software development cycles where I enjoy designing scalable, flexible and cost effective solutions with a focus on end user experience and business objectives. When I'm not working or at the gym I enjoy continuous learning, experimenting with new technologies and sharing what I learned to the communities.



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