Key Differences Between Monolithic and Microservices Architecture

Monolithic and Microservices Architecture are two different software development styles that have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

In the past, if all the functionalities of a project existed in a single codebase, then that application used to be referred to as a monolithic application. Developers need only focus on one application, so they don’t need to learn different applications.

On the other hand, Microservices Architecture is a modern approach where the application is divided into smaller modules or services that communicate with each other. Each microservice in the architecture has its own database, making it possible to use different types of databases based on specific requirements.

Now let us understand the key differences between Monolithic and Microservices Architecture and when to use them.

Monolithic and microservices architecture differ in several aspects, including architecture, development and scalability, deployment, reliability, security, cost, and debugging. 

  • Architecture-wise, monolithic applications are built as a single, self-contained unit, while microservices use smaller, independent, communicative modules.
  • Development and scalability-wise, monolithic applications are simpler and easier to develop than microservices, though the latter requires skilled developers who can work with various services. Microservices, however, are more scalable and flexible as they can handle changes and updates in a granular way.
  • Deployment-wise, monolithic applications are simpler to deploy as only a single jar/war file is deployed, while microservices require a complex deployment environment in which each microservice is deployed independently. Microservices are more reliable than monolithic applications since a problem in one service won’t affect the other services. However, in monolithic applications, a single bug in any module can bring down the entire application.
  • Security-wise, monolithic applications are more secure compared to microservices because they do not require inter-service communication over the network. On the other hand, microservices have weaker security because of the many remote calls that result in network latency.
  • Cost-wise, monolithic applications are less expensive than microservices since they can run on one server, while microservices require separate servers for each service.
  • Debugging-wise, monolithic applications are easier to debug than microservices since the control flows over many microservices.

When dealing with a simple application with a small team, monolithic architecture might be the best solution.

However, for complex systems that require scalability, flexibility, and quick updates, microservices architecture is the way to go. To illustrate, examples of real-world systems that use microservices include Amazon, Netflix and Uber. Monolithic architecture is still relevant in systems that do not require frequent updates and have limited resources. Real-world examples of monolithic applications include PayPal and Bloomberg.

Ultimately, the choice between these two architectures should be based on the specific needs of the organization.

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