Read time: 4 min

Monolithic vs. Microservices architecture

Modular Web

Monolithic architecture is built as a single unified unit, while a MACH or microservices architecture is built from independently deployable services. This last architecture has grown in popularity in the last few years, due to the philosophy that monolith systems cannot keep up with consumers’ digital expectations anymore. But what is the difference between monolithic and microservices architecture, and which one is right for you? It’s time to compare both architectures and discuss the pros and cons of a monolithic system and one based on microservices.

Monolithic architecture

Before comparing both architectures, we’ll look into a monolithic architecture and how it’s developed. A monolithic architecture is a traditional model of a software program, which is built as a unified unit that is self-contained and independent from other applications. It is a singular, large computing network with one code base that couples all of the business concerns together. Changing this kind of application necessitates accessing the code base and developing and deploying an updated service-side interface to update the entire stack. Practice shows that the maintenance for updates becomes constrained and time-consuming as a result.

There are several advantages to monolithic architecture. The application is built on one code base which not only makes it easier to develop but also easier to debug certain errors and issues. It has an easy structure to test because it is a single, centralized unit. Monolithic systems are well-known by developer teams these days so creating such architecture doesn’t require special skills. 

On the other hand, there are also some cons to monolithic applications. The development time of such systems is pretty high. Eventually, it makes the development process complicated and longer. It is more difficult to scale your application because you cannot scale individually. This can be expensive and also results in a lack of flexibility. Optimizing or changing a monolithic functionality can be very limited. The limitations are there with technology that is already built in the monolith. At last, being a single centralized unit has a big disadvantage in technical risk. Because all parts are linked, changing something anywhere in the code can take the whole architecture down. 

Microservice architecture

Microservices are part of a MACH architecture. A MACH architecture creates an open and modular environment that allows businesses to embrace innovation and adapt to change faster with fewer risks. MACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless. 

Microservices are stand-alone applications that are created for specific business purposes. They are independently designed, developed, and managed. One microservice is designed to perform a single function like a wishlist or checkout. The parts communicate and exchange data, forming a union but remaining a separate nature. Microservices decouple domain-specific issues into separate and individual code bases. Even though they do not reduce complexity, it makes it more manageable. 

One of the biggest advantages of microservices is that the architecture is scalable and independently deployable. In addition, your organization can continuously improve the stand-alone applications, and give teams the flexibility to choose the tools they desire. 

Even though the applications are stand-alone and therefore more manageable, it is more challenging to develop. If you’re not careful enough you’ll manage to create a spiderweb of microservices, and lose the overview. In addition, the infrastructure costs might be higher, due to all the different microservices you’ll have to maintain. 

Which one is right for you?

Monolithic ecosystems make a platform less scalable and reusable. Microservices can be modified independently and allow you to update them without risking the entire system, there is high fault tolerance. On the contrary, it is more expensive to develop, not to maintain. 

Management levels are under the impression that implementing a MACH architecture is difficult, complex, and time-consuming, but implementing a MACH architecture is quite simple. Start with peeling your current monolithic system layer by layer. For every layer you tend to peel off, you replace it with a microservice of your liking. Which eventually results in an empty monolithic system that you can shut down easily without losing data. 

Headless CMS of Prepr as part of your architecture

If you’re already convinced that a microservices architecture is right for your business, you might want to consider a suitable headless CMS as the backbone of your architecture. Prepr’s data-driven headless CMS is everything you’d expect from such CMS, topped with a built-in personalization engine to boot!  

If you need any advice on which architecture would suit your needs or how to implement a microservices architecture, Prepr’s support team is here to help. Book a free demo to discover your possibilities.