An illustration of component based development, an alternative to microservices and monolith.
November 27, 2019

When to Move Your Monolith to Microservices or Component Based Development

Version Control

Microservices architecture is growing in popularity. And some teams with large, monolithic codebases are considering migrating to microservices.

But is it the right option for your team?

Monolithic Architecture Pros and Cons

Monolithic architecture is the traditional model. Monolithic means composed all in one piece. A monolith codebase includes all code in one massive codebase.

Many teams still have monolithic architecture with a monolith codebase. But some are considering breaking it up into microservices as a way to modernize. Before you make a decision about your monolith, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons.


There are good reasons keep your monolithic architecture.

Your monolith is a known entity. It has been working for your organization. And those who have been working on it know it. (Although, they may want to get away from it.)

Using the monolith is also generating revenue for your company. And keeping your monolithic architecture could avoid the costs and downtime of a migration.


There are also good reasons to consider moving away from your monolithic architecture.

Using a monolith can slow your team down. You might not be able to identify issues fast enough, causing too many defects to be released to production. There can be long delays in handoffs between development, QA, and operations. And it can be difficult to deliver value to customers quickly enough.

A monolith can also be more difficult to manage. The system itself can be difficult to maintain. You’ll struggle to modernize the technology. It will be challenging to find enough developers to work on the legacy codebase. And working on a monolith can stifle innovation.


[Related Blog: ClearCase vs. Git]


What Is Microservices Based Development?

Microservices based development breaks an application into a collection of loosely coupled services. APIs connect microservices. That means each service can be developed independently and maintained independently.

Using microservices can make it easier to adopt new technologies. And using microservices can make teams more productive. That’s why many teams want to move from monolithic to microservices architecture.

Microservices is generally associated with running production workloads in containers. More recently, it’s become associated with Kubernetes, Istio, and Aspen Mesh. This will require a very different environment from a monolith. That means extra complexity to set up, as well as upskilling for your team.

But microservices architecture isn’t the only option for breaking up your monolith. You could also break it up into components, for example.

What Is Component Based Development?

Component based development breaks development up into smaller pieces (components). This could be broken up using a producer/consumer model. Or it could be broken up into different libraries. Or it could even be broken up by front-end/back-end.

Breaking up software into components is the right thing to do. No one can argue that. It’s what the Agile revolution is all about. And using components can better serve business needs than microservices.

Using components turns a monolith into software building blocks. And these components can be combined, reused, and versioned.


Monolith vs. Microservices

When it comes to breaking up your monolith, you have a lot of options:

  1. Keep the monolith.
  2. Break it up into smaller pieces, including microservices or components.

But which is the best option for you? That depends.

Risks of Breaking Up Your Monolith

Your monolith is probably generating a lot of revenue for your company. But customers want more to stay competitive. And that’s why you’re considering breaking it up into microservices or components.

However, refactoring your monolith into microservices will be a multi-year project. There are serious business risk. Development could be delayed. There could be concerns about how well the new architecture will work. And you could compromise stability and reliability. More on microservices vs. mini vs. monolith >>

Depending on your application, moving to microservices might not make sense.

What About Git?

Many teams use Git for microservices. And Git is a great place to keep your codebase if you’re already in a microservices model.

But Git is not a great place to migrate your monolith codebase — or your legacy production workflow. To do so, you would have to do 1+ year of work first and then try to migrate.

If you don’t have time to wait, moving your monolith to microservices with Git is a bad option.


[Related Webinar: Should You Break Up Your Monolith?]


How to Break Up Your Monolith

It’s best to stick with your monolith until you have a better understanding of your architecture — and the problems within it.

Build the Right Approach

You’ll want to construct a new environment that incorporates your legacy and plans for the new system.

Here are 4 key tips for building the right approach.

Assess low-hanging fruit.

Break-off and refactor after you migrate.

Attack a component/package/service in a logical order.

Adopt new tools throughout the process.

Your goal should be to support both the old and the new models simultaneously.

8 Steps to a Successful Migration

When it comes to migrating your monolith, there are 8 steps that will be critical for success.

  1. Start with capabilities of the monolith that are decoupled and don’t require changes to customer-facing apps.
  2. Focus on software delivery approaches and upskilling team members.
  3. Build out the minimum infrastructure needed to deliver independently deployable components (e.g., containerized microservices) that expose self-service APIs.
  4. Start tracking technical issues for new and legacy, including:
    • Counting errors released to production.
    • Service availability.
    • Time to remediate.
  5. Consider cloud deployment options (as appropriate).
  6. Implement basic monitoring for new and legacy.
  7. Implement automation wherever possible.
  8. Migrate in atomic steps.

Modernize Your Monolith With Helix Core

You can’t just dump the monolith. But you can modernize it and get it working the way you need it too. And that’s by using Helix Core.

Helix Core can handle your entire monolith as-is, without requiring major refactoring first. All you have to do is import and go. There are no barriers or risk. And there is no immediate need to break up your monolith.

Once you’re working in Helix Core, you can methodically attack a component (or package or service) one at a time. The tooling and process will support your transition seamlessly.

This means you can move the legacy monolith codebase over. You can modernize as you go. And you can bring it all together in one unified system.

Features like Perforce Streams further support component based development. You can customize Stream spec fields to adjust the metadata. This makes it easier to pull related codelines together for a build. And it enables IP reuse because files are easier to locate.

And, if you want to support teams building components in Git, Perforce supports that, too. You can bring those components in seamlessly with Helix4Git without impacting the build and release process.

Get Started With Helix Core

See for yourself how Helix Core will help you modernize your monolith — and move into component based development. You can get started for free for up to 5 users and 20 workspaces.

Modernize My Monolith With Helix Core