Monolithic vs Microservices: Pros, Cons, and what should you use?

Monolithic vs Microservices: Pros, Cons, and what should you use?

New-age devs love their microservices but the veterans aren’t always convinced.

It’s not because they’re just being old and stubborn — but rather, there are perks about monolithic that not everyone is willing to accept.

But it doesn’t mean that monoliths are the best architecture for your code. Here is a comprehensive rundown of what monoliths and microservices are, and how they compare when it comes to the pros and cons.

What is monolithic architecture?

A monolithic architecture refers to a software design approach in which all components of an application are built and integrated as a single, self-contained unit.

In a monolithic architecture, an application's functionality is typically built and deployed together, as a single unit. This contrasts with a microservices architecture, in which an application is built as a collection of smaller, independent services that communicate with each other over a network.

The pros of monolithic architecture:

Simplicity

Monolithic architectures are relatively simple to understand and work with since all of the functionality of an application is contained in a single codebase. This can make it easier for developers to learn and work with the code, and can also make it easier to manage and maintain the application over time.

Easier to test

Because all of the code in a monolithic application is contained in a single unit, it can be easier to test the application as a whole. This can make it easier to catch bugs and other issues early on in the development process, which can save time and money.

Better performance

Monolithic applications can potentially have better performance than their microservices counterparts since all of the code is contained in a single unit. This can make it easier to optimize the code for performance, and can also make it easier to take advantage of modern hardware and other resources.

Easier to deploy

Because a monolithic application is a single unit, it can be relatively straightforward to deploy. This can make it easier to get the application up and running quickly, and can also make it easier to manage and scale the application over time.

Lower cost

In some cases, a monolithic architecture can be less expensive to develop and maintain than a microservices architecture. This is because a monolithic application can be developed and maintained by a smaller team and because it can potentially be easier to test and deploy.

The cons of monolithic architecture:

Tight coupling

In a monolithic architecture, all of the components of an application are tightly coupled, meaning that changes to one part of the code can potentially affect other parts of the code. This can make it difficult to make changes to the application without introducing bugs or other issues.

Difficulty scaling

Because a monolithic application is a single, self-contained unit, it can be difficult to scale individual components of the application independently. This can make it challenging to handle sudden increases in traffic or other demands on the application, and can limit the overall scalability of the application.

Difficulty updating

Because all of the code in a monolithic application is contained in a single unit, it can be difficult to update or replace individual components of the application without affecting the rest of the code. This can make it challenging to keep the application up to date, and can also make it difficult to introduce new features or functionality.

Difficulty maintaining

Over time, a monolithic application can become large and complex, which can make it difficult to maintain and support. As the codebase grows, it can become more difficult for developers to understand and work with the code, which can slow down development and increase the risk of bugs and other issues.

What about microservices? What are microservices?

Microservices are a software architecture design pattern in which a large application is built as a collection of smaller, independent services that communicate with each other over a network. Each microservice is designed to be self-contained and to implement a specific functionality or business capabilities, such as user authentication or product catalog management.

The main advantage of using a microservices architecture is that it allows for greater flexibility and scalability than a monolithic architecture. Because each microservice is independent and can be developed, deployed, and scaled separately from the others, it is easier to make changes to the application without affecting the entire codebase. This can make it easier to update and maintain the application over time, and can also make it easier to scale the application to handle increased traffic or other demands.

The pros of microservices:

Flexibility

Because each microservice is an independent, self-contained unit, it is relatively easy to make changes to individual microservices without affecting the rest of the application. This can make it easier to update and maintain the application over time, and can also make it easier to introduce new features or functionality.

Scalability

Because microservices can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently of each other, it is easier to scale individual components of an application to handle increased traffic or other demands. This can make it easier to ensure that the application remains responsive and available, even when faced with sudden spikes in traffic or other challenges.

Modularity

Microservices are designed to be modular, meaning that each microservice implements a specific business capability or functionality. This can make it easier for developers to understand and work with the code, and can also make it easier to reuse individual microservices in other applications.

Efficiency

Because each microservice can be developed and maintained by a small, focused team, it can be easier to collaborate and share knowledge within the team. This can make it easier to develop and release new features and updates, and can also help to reduce the time and effort required to maintain the application over time.

Flexible technology stack

Because each microservice is an independent unit, it is possible to use different technologies for different microservices. This can make it easier to take advantage of the best tools and technologies for each specific business need, and can also make it easier to migrate to new technologies over time.

The cons of microservices:

Complexity

a microservices architecture involves building an application as a collection of independent services, it can be more complex to implement and manage than a monolithic architecture. This can make it more difficult for developers to understand and work with the code, and can also make it more challenging to debug and troubleshoot issues.

Increased overhead

each microservice is an independent unit, there is additional overhead associated with managing and coordinating the communication between microservices. This can add complexity and overhead to the development and deployment process, which can increase the time and effort required to build and maintain the application.

Network communication

microservices communicate with each other over a network, there is the potential for network latency or other communication issues to affect the performance of the application. This can be particularly challenging in applications that require low-latency communication between microservices, such as real-time financial trading systems.

Lack of standardization

microservice can be developed and maintained by a different team, there is the potential for a lack of standardization across the microservices in an application. This can make it more difficult to manage and maintain the application over time, and can also make it more challenging to ensure that the microservices are compatible with each other.

Monolithic vs. Microservice — which one is better?

Both approaches have their own strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice will depend on the specific requirements and goals of the project.

In general, a monolithic architecture may be a good fit for small to medium-sized applications that do not require a high degree of flexibility or scalability. Because a monolithic architecture is relatively simple to understand and work with, it can be an efficient and effective approach for building and deploying applications in these situations.

On the other hand, a microservices architecture may be a better fit for large, complex applications that require a high degree of flexibility and scalability. Because a microservices architecture allows for greater flexibility and scalability, it can make it easier to develop and maintain a large, complex application over time.

Ultimately, the decision to use a monolithic or microservices architecture will depend on the specific needs and goals of the project, as well as the experience and capabilities of the development team. It may be useful to consult with experts or conduct research to determine the best approach for a given situation.

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