Monolithic vs Microservices: Which Architecture You Should Follow and Why?

by Zymr

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Monolithic vs Microservices

IT industry is brimming with a lot of new technological revolution lately. Every day we come to know about one or the other innovation of IT. If we talk about software, it is like a backbone to the IT domain without whose presence nothing can be done.

In this blog, we will be focusing on the two architectural styles for software development, but first let’s try to understand how software is being developed, as it is not just a one-shot affair. It is developed in many phases and knowing this first will eventually help us in understanding the architecture in a better way.

  1. The required software is identified by the IT team.
  2. Detailed specifications are decided as per the requirements.
  3. The software is designed.
  4. Programming is done through the desired language.
  5. Testing is done to check the bugs and errors if any.
  6. Maintenance is done regularly so that it can work smoothly.

Monolithic and Microservices are two architectural styles. It is indeed tough to decide between monolithic and microservices because both have their own characteristics as well as their pros and cons.

Let’s try to understand these two architectures with an example:

In the Monolithic architecture, we have three components namely UI, business logic and data access layer. All of these are interlinked to one another. So, if we want to make changes in any one of the three components all will be affected in some way or the other.

Whereas in Microservice architecture, there are different fragments of components, which are interconnected but are not interdependent on one another like Monolithic. We can easily make changes in any of the components here whenever required, without making changes in the other components.

What is Monolithic Architecture? A Traditional and Unified Model

Monolithic has a modular architecture. It has always worked well in the initial stages of the project and basically, various big and successful applications were started with the monolith architecture.

We can understand it better by looking at the characteristics and the advantages which it offers:

  • The model is simple to develop, test and deploy. We can define it as the single-tiered software architectural design.
  • It is like a single entity, which comprises all the elements and components in it. All of them are interconnected and interrelated to each other.
  • It is actually a tightly-coupled architecture, where if we want to execute any code, then every component has to be present in the desired order. If we talk about complexity, it is more in “coding” and less in the “wiring”.

Also, if we want to make any kind of change in any of the components, then we have to write the entire application or do the entire coding procedure again. Here, it is not possible that we are just changing a particular component, but all the components will be affected in this underlying process. It is the biggest challenge as well as the biggest drawback of this architectural design.

Our inclination towards microservices is because of the disadvantages associated with the Monolithic Architecture:

  • This architecture faces issues in terms of its size and complexity. As the size is very large and complex to understand to the fullest. Scalability is an issue in this architecture process if in case different modules have different requirements in terms of inputs, queries or resources.
  • Redeployment has to be done in the entire application, with every update and the continuous deployment is very cumbersome and time-consuming. Changes in framework or language can affect the entire mechanism, hence it is very costly as well as time-consuming.
  • Major concerns are “Reliability” and “Safety” in this architecture. If there is a bug or error in any of the components, it can potentially affect the entire process. The bug can impact the entire application altogether. It is not dynamic and is indeed very rigid. Along with this, it also faces issues in adopting new technologies.

What is Microservices Architecture?

The architecture is divided into a set of smaller, interconnected services as compared to monolithic architecture. The name itself suggests that the main service is divided into different micro-services, so it will definitely be faster in terms of processing, response and providing output. Microservices patterns help the developers as well as architects on building applications by using microservice architecture.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of Microservices:

  • It is fine-grained and has different fragments in it, which are all interconnected to each other. Every time we just need to focus on the specific component where we are facing any issues. It works faster, and even if one component fails, it won’t affect the functioning as well as the working of other components. Moreover, the scalability is not an issue here.
  • It solves the problem by dividing the main sets into the subsets of manageable services which are much faster to develop, as well as much easier to understand and maintain. Each team can independently work on the particular application or component, so it saves a lot of time and efforts.
  • Advantages of Microservices are not confined. As compared to monolithic, the structure is very flexible, open to innovation and suitable for new technology adoption, as developers can choose any technology of their choice, which fits in. The complexity is more in “Wiring” and less in “Coding”, compared to Monolithic.

Renowned companies which are extensively into Microservices architecture are:

  1. Amazon: It has its own cloud called AWS and serverless architecture service called AWS Lambda. The main motive of Amazon behind adopting this architecture was to give a delightful experience to their customers.
  2. Netflix: Netflix was a pioneer in adopting microservices architecture, the major concerns were scalability and flexibility in the workflow operations.
  3. Uber: Uber started with monolithic architecture, but soon as it expanded its reach, the ride-sharing giant started facing scalability problems and issues related to continuous integration. Ultimately it switched to microservices architecture to streamline the workflow mechanisms.
  4. eBay: Another e-commerce giant after Amazon, eBay, is also using microservices architecture to ensure “data consistency” in its workflow.
  5. Groupon: Groupon has emerged as a hidden gem. It resorted to microservices for operational readiness as well as continuous monitoring and improvement.


However, it has some loopholes, following are the disadvantages of Microservices:

  • It has the partitioned database architecture. As the subsets are independent of one another, making independent changes in them is tough. Testing in case of microservices is much more complex and tiresome as compared to monolithic, as it has various components under one set. Here you can not make changes in one go, the structure of microservices is a boon as well as a curse too.
  • Deployment of resources in the microservices-based architecture is also complex. This structure typically consists of a large number of services and as a result, each service will possess numerous runtime instances, each instance needs to be configured, deployed, scaled and monitored, which makes the procedure very complicated. It is quite evident that there is a list of both microservices pros and cons, however, the pros are overweighing cons.

Serverless Framework: An advanced version of the microservices framework

With microservices, developers can work independently on each separate component as there are fragments of components with lesser dependability on each other. With serverless, we can also change these components faster and scale them up or down independently. A serverless microservice can be deployed in the serverless architecture. It is always a concern for every developer to think about infrastructure, servers, scaling issues, time and costs etc. With serverless architecture, all such concerns resolve to a great extent.

The serverless architecture consists of:

  1. Function as a Service (FaaS)
  2. Backend as a Service (BaaS)

As now we have arrived at the conclusion part, it is not yet easy to decide upon which software architecture you should go for. Both have their respective pros and cons. However, you need to strike a balance, understand the needs and carefully analyze the procedure of software development. Through this you can find the most suitable layout for your enterprise, thereby making the entire mechanism successful. Also, serverless architecture with its unique features is gradually surpassing microservices architecture, which is also a point of consideration.

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