Monolith vs. microservices architecture in a nutshell
In the fast-changing digital world, it’s hard to keep up with upcoming technologies, techniques, and software solutions. If you operate in a dynamic market segment, if you’re facing competition, if speed, agility, and time-to-market are important to you, or if you have big plans and scalability is a priority, then the microservices architecture is the right way to go. In this blog post, we explore what microservices architecture is and have a look at the benefits of using microservices.
What are microservice and microservice architecture?
Microservices – or microservice architecture – is a way to structure an application in a way that is loosely coupled, independently deployable, and organized around business capabilities. These features make the software architecture highly maintainable, as it can be owned by small teams.
Microservices differ because they’re made up of lots of relatively small applications that work together to give the overall functionality of a system. Each microservice has exactly one well-defined functionality. So they can cut a big problem down into many small manageable ones with each being handled relatively independently. So your content is managed by one application, your stock levels by another, and so on.
Advantages of microservice architecture
Using microservices can also speed up your development. It also makes it a lot easier to adapt if your requirements change as you can simply focus on the microservice it affects. Here are the main advantages of microservices:
- Scalability: New channels and features are added quickly and efficiently.
- Full flexibility: Decoupling software functions from each other make it much easier to change one function without risking unwanted effects on the entire system.
- Less complexity: Microservices have a small complexity and can be developed in a short amount of time.
- Speed up development: Trouble-free continuous development and deployment are possible. Also, development teams can work on different projects at the same time since only a few decisions have to be made across the teams (for example, standardized integration).
- Lower costs: Operational costs are often lower when maintaining a microservice architecture.
What’s the difference between the monolith and microservice architecture?
Before we go into details about the advantages of a microservice architecture, let’s clarify what is meant by monolithic architecture.
Monolith architecture: Proven but out of date
Traditionally companies would use a monolith architecture, which means using one system for everything. For example, a monolith commerce system mostly tries to manage it all: store frontend, store backend but also product data, content, stock levels, logistics, finances, accounting, statistics, and much more. They can also be hard to update as technology advances, and as they’re adapted more and more to fit these new technologies, they become slow and only specialists can work with them. Monolithic systems are also sometimes called ‘suites’ or ‘best-of-suite’ solutions, so don’t get confused.
Why does microservices architecture offer these advantages over the monolith?
Microservices architecture cuts a big problem down into many small manageable ones. Of course, many small problems aren’t necessarily easier to deal with but the trick is the defined interfaces between these little problems. In each case, teams can find suitable ways to solve the problem as pain-free and quickly as possible.
Only through the consistent use of a microservices architecture was it possible for well-known brands like Amazon, Netflix, Uber, eBay, … to grow so quickly. They all started with a classic monolithic architecture and quickly realized that the microservices way was better. These tech companies were able to set themselves apart from the competition very quickly and set new standards — especially in terms of customer experience. Classical, medium-sized companies may still have the chance to create a one-time digital product that meets the current requirements of their customers, but with a monolithic architecture, they have no chance to keep up with the current speed of change.
Of course, small and medium-sized companies don’t have the power to build their microservices-based IT completely on their own, as the companies mentioned above have done. But fortunately, more and more of the established vendors are opting for API first and new vendors are entering the market as ‘headless’ or ‘API native.’
Headless and microservices enable digital retailers to add new channels and features quickly and efficiently. They also enable businesses to scale existing facilities to meet demand without the heavy workload associated with upgrading backend systems, while allowing them to choose different technology. Looking at these advantages, it is more than understandable that the trend in digital commerce is moving in this direction.