Monolithic vs Microservices Architecture: The Advantages of Each

Compare and contrast the advantages of monolithic and microservices architectural styles to discover which is more appropriate for your initiatives.

What is the difference between monolithic and microservices?

Recent trends in software development have largely evolved to support a DevOps philosophy, which offers a more dynamic and agile approach by emphasizing collaborative solutions that help reduce the time between deployments without sacrificing quality. 

As a result, application architecture has shifted from monolithic applications to loosely-coupled modular components known as microservices. Here’s the difference between the two architectures: 

Monolithic architecture:

As the name implies, a monolithic application consists of one system, where parts such as the codebase, business logic, and other parts are all interconnected and dependent on one another.  

Microservices architecture:

A microservices approach involves building application infrastructure with individual services that function independently. These services have their own logic and database while also working together as a distributed system with inter-process communication.

Advantages of microservice architectures

Microservices applications offer greater flexibility and less risk since the development team can make changes, deploy updates, introduce new features, or adopt a new technology stack without affecting the entire application. Benefits include: 

  • Improved productivity

    The ability to manage different architectural components as independent services makes it easier to build and maintain complex applications. Small teams can divide up different tasks and work on pieces of infrastructure simultaneously. 

  • Better resiliency

    A microservices-based approach makes it easier to troubleshoot and mitigate the root cause of performance problems due to the isolated nature of modular components. Downtime is reduced since updates can be rolled back, or changes can be made, without impacting the entire application.  

  • Increased scalability

    Since microservices are individual services, they can be written in different programming languages without compromising compatibility, allowing DevOps teams to choose the best tech stack for each module. Each modular unit can also be scaled independently, and new components can be added without downtime.

The agility, adaptability, and easily scalable nature of a microservices environment has made it a popular choice for big enterprises such as Netflix, Amazon, Google, and others. 

Advantages of monolithic architecture

Although microservices-based infrastructure seems to be quickly surpassing monolithic architecture, the traditional style of software development has its advantages too. The strengths of monolithic architecture include: 

  • Ease of development and monitoring

    The agility of microservices often comes with the cost of complexity. Particularly for smaller projects or organizations, creating a highly distributed environment might involve more development and maintenance than a small team is capable of managing effectively. 

  • Less latency

    Since all calls in a monolith are local, users experience less latency than they may in a microservices-based environment. The processing time involved with one service communicating with another often involves a slower response time, and although there are ways to mitigate that issue, a monolithic architecture is generally more streamlined. 

  • Less complication about crosscutting concerns

    A monolith makes it easier to implement workflows that involve different components of your application, such as charging a credit card and automating a shipping label, since all relevant data is in one easy-to-access place.


How to migrate from monolithic to microservice?

Changing your architecture from a monolith to microservice-based can be daunting. The most important aspect of transitioning from monolithic to microservices infrastructure is to stay organized.

Here are some best practices:

  • Each microservice should only control one table or data source and be limited to a specific context.  
  • Choose microservices that excel at performing a singular function, without breaking services into inefficient and complicated sub-categories. Assign each microservice a dedicated context; for instance, an e-commerce application may use one microservice to handle everything sales related, such as ordering, the shopping cart function, etc. 
  • Avoid sharing logic across multiple applications. If you have more than one microservices that share a common element, re-write them so that they are different. Attempting to re-use the same logic can lead to unnecessary complications.

How AppDynamics Can Help

They key to having confidence in your application's architecture, whether monolithic or microservices-based, is visibility. AppDynamics helps create a center of monitoring excellence by simplifying even the most complex infrastructure with code-level metrics, end-to-end transaction tracing, and automated alerting that helps identify and resolve performance issues before they affect business outcomes.

Hear from our customers

"With AppDynamics, we gain better visibility into how microservices interface with the rest of the components of our application, the ability to proactively troubleshoot emerging issues, and the increased velocity to resolve issues faster than ever."

Nuno Pereira, CTO, iJET

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