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March Modernization Madness: Monolith vs. Microservices

Monolith and Microservices

With March Madness in full force, this blog miniseries showcases important modernization topics in a head-to-head matchup style. Installment #3 features Monolith vs. Microservices. 

Businesses today need to respond to market changes quickly and easily. The ability to successfully make these adjustments largely depends on how well their mission-critical applications and services can adapt with them. While monolith has been a traditional architecture and worked in a day and age before the cloud, it has significant limitations due to the lack of flexibility. On the other hand, a microservices application development architecture approach has quickly risen to the modernization occasion over the last decade as an alternative architecture approach that fosters agility and resilience.

Which architecture is right for you? Find out how monolith and microservices compare, their strengths and weaknesses, and which architecture is the most advantageous.

What Is A Monolith and What Are Microservices?

Monolith: As the prefix mono suggests, a monolith architecture is when an application is built as one single unit.

Microservices: Microservices denotes when an application is broken into a series of modules where each module is associated with a specific business objective.

Where Do They Shine?

Monolith: Monolith architecture is a standard framework best suited for organizations looking to get a simple application up and running quickly by a small team.

Microservices: Flexibility, scalability, and manageability are cornerstones of a microservices-based architecture. Since a microservices application is broken up into smaller components, it is easier to manage and understand based on the specific business goals. It is also much easier to add new features and deploy updates independently. Not surprisingly, microservices go hand-in-hand with Agile and DevOps methodologies given the focus on building and deploying independently and continuous delivery.

Where Are They Weak?

Monolith: Rigidness is a huge differentiating factor. Applications written in a monolithic fashion make it difficult to introduce changes because of their single unit nature and coupled functionality. One issue can mean there’s a problem with the code everywhere. Changes require recreating and redeploying the entire application which can be very time-consuming and costly. Also, the added complexity of cloud architectures makes them difficult to scale and provision on the cloud.

Microservices: While testing can be faster for microservices, testing can also be more complex than with monolithic architecture. Since each module or service has its own dependencies and services will be added over time, this can be difficult to track.

Is It Time To Breakdown A Monolith To Microservices?

Many organizations are looking for ways to pay down technical debt and breaking down a monolithic application to microservices is one approach to solve this problem. This is ideal in cases when the cost and risk of rewriting code are prohibitive and select functional components can be modularized for faster time to value. Leading enterprise companies such as Netflix, Uber, and Amazon have all embraced a microservices approach to instill greater agility and scalability to their businesses. Microservices can provide not only a consistent user experience across a range of platforms and devices, but also enable maintenance and other backend updates to happen seamlessly. This is especially important in today’s fast-paced world.

To learn more about navigating your modernization journey, contact us today.