Introduction

Creating or updating a monolithic application is simply not effective for digital transformation efforts. What makes microservice architecture so much better than older monolithic application architecture? It’s like comparing traditional waterfall project methodology to Agile. (In fact, agility is one of the primary benefits of microservices.)

Agility

Microservices make your organization more agile

Conway’s Law says that how your software components interact is a reflection of how your organization communicates and interacts. Say you have a team of 40 people that maintain a monolithic e-commerce application with a single code base. Do you know how difficult it is to schedule (much less run) a meeting with that many people? But, if you ever want to modify that monolith, you almost have to involve all those people in some capacity, because such changes impact everyone.

With microservices, the services are independent, therefore the people are more independent. Instead of one monolith and a team of 40, you might have five smaller e-commerce services each with a team of eight. Or even smaller teams, since there is not as much busy-work to figure and handle all the code dependencies inherent in monoliths. Smaller teams are simply easier to manage, and they can get more done in less time.

Performance Benefits

Microservices can automatically scale up or down

When you need to ramp up the performance of a monolith, you can apply the usual techniques: adding more RAM, faster processors, bigger servers, and so forth. But these techniques will only get you so far. When you reach physical or financial limitations, you might then use a technique called sharding, a technique used to decompose a massive database into smaller databases and distribute traffic evenly to improve performance. Sharding is an effective technique that can help even a monolith perform better, although you have to modify the monolith to understand the implementation.

Unlike monoliths, microservices can be deployed on independent hardware, so you get scaling and performance benefits of “sharding“ out of the box. Unlike database sharding, microservices each have Microservices 6 their own, independent database that holds only the information that service needs. This means that each microservice can independently and comprehensively scale up or down, saving costs by scaling down low traffic services in the cloud. With auto-scaling, your microservice architecture can practically tune itself.

Ability To Migrate Architecture

Microservices enable and simplify migrating architectures

An often-understated benefit of microservices is that it allows you to more easily migrate architectures. Refactoring a monolith means ripping the whole thing apart, rewriting the code, putting it all back together, performing massive regression testing, and then deploying it. And you have to repeat the process every time you want to change it. It’s like moving a huge boulder (or even the whole mountain) every time.

With microservices, transitioning architectures is like moving individual stones instead of the whole mountain. Say your current architecture has five services, and your target architecture has seven, and four of the five existing microservices will carry over to your new architecture unchanged. All that’s required is to retire one service and build three new ones. Nothing to tear apart and put back together again. Be mindful to make changes like this backward compatible or implement a transition and deprecation plan.

For even more benefits of Microservices download our free White Paper Microservices: The Good, The Bad, and the Better.

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