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November 27, 2019

Monolith vs. Microservices: Which Is Best?

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You might be debating monolith vs. microservices — and which one is best for your business.

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? Here, we cover what monoliths and microservices are — and which one makes more sense for your team.

Monolith vs. Microservices

A monolithic application is a single, unified codebase. A microservice application is made up of many services — smaller pieces. 

So Is One Better Than the Other?

Depending on your needs, you might be better off with a monolith. Or you might be better off with microservices. 

If you have a monolith today, you're probably debating:

  1. Breaking it up into smaller pieces, including microservices or components.
  2. Keeping it.

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

What Is a Monolith?

A monolith is a codebase composed all in one piece. This typically means all code in one massive codebase.

But it could mean one codebase in a monorepo or one codebase split into multiple repositories. 

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.

Monolithic Architecture Pros and Cons

Monolithic architecture is the traditional model. 

Many teams still have monolithic architecture with a monolith codebase. But some are considering breaking it up into microservices as a way to modernize.

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

And before you make a decision, you’ll need to weigh the monolithic architecture pros and cons.

Pros of Monolithic Architecture

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.)

Your monolith is also generating revenue for your company — which is something you don't want to risk. And keeping your monolithic architecture could avoid the costs and downtime of a migration.

Cons of Monolithic Architecture

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]

 

When to Migrate From Monolithic to Microservices Architecture

Wondering when to migrate from a monolithic to microservices architecture?

You should consider breaking your monolith into microservices or components if the pros outweigh the cons. 

The best case for migrating is when you can refactor your codebase without losing time.

When to Keep Your Monolith

You should keep your monolith if the cons outweigh the pros.

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 risks. 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 >>

 

So, Should You Choose a Monolith vs. Microservices?

Monolith vs. microservices aren't your only options. The best option for your monolith might be component based development (CBD). CBD breaks your monolith into manageable components — without the risks of moving to the microservices model.

Learn more about CBD.

why Component Based DevelopmenT?