Monolithic or Microservices? Pros and cons of each architecture

Pablo Baldomá JonesPablo Baldomá Jones

Pablo Baldomá Jones

Is Monolithic Better than Microservices? Pros and cons of each architecture
A monolithic application is made up of a unique and indivisible code base.

Monolithic or Microservices? This is one of the software developers’ first questions when creating a new application. It has to do with the complexity of the code base they will be using.

While the code architecture will impact how efficient the application development process will be, its performance, and the scalability of the final product, this decision will also affect economic costs, speed of development and time to market, and security, in other aspects.

While both methods can create robust applications serving various purposes, the application’s core will be very different if one is chosen.

This article seeks to show you the characteristics of each method and the aspects you must consider before deciding on one or the other.

What is a monolith?

A monolithic application (commonly referred to as a "monolith") is an application made up of a large (unique and indivisible) code base. It includes all the components of an application, such as front-end code, back-end code, and configuration files.

Acting as a unit, all elements must be present to execute the code, so any change to a module must update the entire application. That is, as more functions are added, the code will grow.

Monolithic apps are typically quick to develop and deploy (unlike a microservices app), cheaper, and easier to manage. Therefore, this structure brings significant benefits to small teams.

Advantages of Monolithic Applications:

  • Simple to develop, test, and launch: Because their components are centralized, monolithic applications are often relatively easy to develop and can be brought to market in less time. For startups or individual developers, this can mean quickly creating, testing, and launching a product.
  • Easy to test and follow errors: By having fewer variables, the risk of something going wrong is lower; Also, errors are easier to detect as all transactions are in one place.
  • Requires less specialization: Almost any development team can build a monolithic application, while a microservices-based application requires specialized skills.
  • Better security management: By using monoliths, the entire security system is managed in one place, making it much easier to track down vulnerabilities, unlike microservices.

What is microservices architecture?

The microservices architecture of an application involves creating a collection of independent (and smaller) services that communicate through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).

Each service has a particular function, code base, processes, life cycle, and database, which allows each component to be maintained and updated separately without affecting the rest of the application (unlike monolithic applications).

Despite their popularity, microservices-based applications are often incredibly complex, requiring development teams with specialized skills.

Without the proper training or resources, building applications with microservices can take time, incur additional costs, or require hiring outside experts.

Advantages of microservice applications:

  • Independent development: each service can be developed and updated independently of the rest of the services, which makes these processes faster.
  • Segmented scalability: Because each service can be upgraded individually, it can be scaled separately. This feature saves time and effort.
  • Allows greater complexity: A microservices architecture will allow you to scale and add new capabilities much faster if you plan to develop an application with multiple modules and user paths.

Monolithic applications or microservices?

Monolithic architectures such as microservices have advantages and disadvantages that developers should consider carefully when building an application.

The services architecture should be your option if you want to create a complex and constantly evolving application. The same if you have the human, technological and economic resources to maintain it.

On the other hand, if you want to create a lightweight application with limited functionality (which may become more complex along the way) for a quick and cheap launch, the best option will be to use a monolithic architecture.

This option is ideal for startups and companies operating on a tight budget and a small team of developers. Remember to consider the product development approach and your organization's needs and challenges.

You already have the cards on the table. I hope this article helps you decide if your business needs a monolithic or microservices architecture.

If you need additional help, contact us.