As technologies have evolved over the years, the way in which applications are built has also changed, with various new architectures being developed and adopted by developers. The two primary reasons behind this shift happen to be the need to reduce time to market (TTM) and reduce the complexity of coding.

When it comes to software architecture, two types that are widely used today are: monolithic architecture and microservices architecture.

Monolithic vs Microservices Architecture: An Overview

Monolithic architecture is known to be the conventional method used to build apps. This is basically a consolidated model, where all the software elements are interconnected.

As a result, every element and those under it should be completely functional in order for the code to be successful. Even if a single element needs to be changed, the entire process will have to be changed, including all the other elements, since they are all interdependent.

Microservices architecture, on the other hand, is a model where the software elements are loosely couple, which means they are independent of one another. Hence, the architecture can comprise of different programming languages, but ultimately serves the same function.

Benefits of Monolithic Application

Simplicity is perhaps the major benefit of monolithic application or architecture:

It is easy to develop codes with the monolithic application, especially during the initial stages of a project. This is because you can access a wide variety of readily available tools that can be directly integrated into the app.

The codes can be tested and deployed easily, because everything is carried out instantly with a single directory.

Developing codes with this model also takes less amount of time because the whole process requires only minimum effort.

Due to this simple nature of the monolithic application, you don’t have to perform a lot of complex or additional activities that are otherwise demanded by complex systems.

X Challenges of Monolithic Application

When you integrate new tools into your app, your codebase automatically gets big, making the system harder. Since you would have spent a lot of money and other resources, the loss you face will be significant, if the monolithic application fails, because you will have to start all over again.

When the application gets too big, it turns out to be more complex to comprehend, especially for new developers, and therefore, making changes quickly and correctly becomes difficult as well.

These applications are not reusable because they include readily available tools. What this means is that you wouldn’t be able to remove any single element or feature and use it in a different project.

Depending on the size of the application, its start-up time can slow down.

The whole application must be redeployed during each update.

Reliability is another huge downfall of monolithic applications, because a bug in any part of the codebase can actually overthrow the whole process.

Benefits of Microservices Architecture

Since this architecture helps build apps as independent components, they are much easier to understand, test, deploy, and maintain.

It has already been established that microservices architecture is far more superior than most other types used to build apps, and is especially useful for large enterprises where apps are often developed by distributed teams of developers.

Since the elements here are independent of each other, even if one fails due to any reason, a new one can be developed without having to be concerned about the operation of the rest of the application.

The independent set of elements are smaller, and are therefore easier and faster to test.

Applications developed using this architecture are known to be faster, which makes deployments faster and improves productivity.

When there is a change to be made, may it be adopting a new technology or programming language, an update to be made, or any other reason for that matter, only that particular module or service can be changed and redeployed without disturbing the other parts of the application.

In addition to making use of the various new technologies, developers can also include hybrid technologies in the microservices architecture, which typically means that the codebase can have mixed technologies, anything that the teams think will best suit their service.

Scaling can be done independently as well.

X Challenges of Microservices Architecture

Though each part of the architecture is simpler, it is an undeniable fact that this system as a whole is more complex than the monolithic application, which developers might find hard to manage.

Testing the microservices architecture is also way more complex than the monolithic application.

Proper coordination between the teams developing the individual services that make up the whole application is extremely crucial.

Since the process involves multiple smaller services or elements, deployment and management also get difficult.

Assembling teams that possess the skills and experience to rightly implement the microservices architecture is hard, due to its distributed nature.

Which Architecture Should You Choose?

Go with the monolithic architecture if:

Yours is a startup and only a small team will be building the application.
You don’t have the time or money to spend on building an app using a complex architecture.
You and your team have the experience using this architecture and know that there wouldn’t be any performance bottlenecks.

Choose the microservices architecture if:

You have diverse teams with people with knowledge and experience in different languages.
You don’t have to meet a strict deadline, because this architecture requires proper research and planning in order to be successful.
If scalability is one of your big concerns.