Microservices vs Monoliths: Choosing the Right Architecture

Published On

December 16, 2022

Thomas Trussle


This article compares monolithic and microservices architectures, exploring their characteristics, strengths, and considerations to help inform architectural decisions.


Selecting the right architecture for your application is a critical decision that can shape the project's trajectory, affecting development, deployment, and future scalability. In this article, we'll explore two major architectural patterns: monolithic and microservices, understand their characteristics, compare their strengths and weaknesses, and delve into scenarios where one may be preferred over the other.

Understanding Monolithic Architecture

A monolithic architecture is a traditional model where all the software components of an application are interconnected and interdependent. In the context of an application, the server-side application has a single codebase, with components for database interactions, business logic, and the user interface.

While this architecture has been widely adopted due to its simplicity and uniformity, it has some significant drawbacks. These include lack of scalability, slower feature deployment, and difficulties in managing and maintaining large codebases.

Understanding Microservices Architecture

Microservices architecture is a design principle that structures an application as a collection of loosely coupled, independently deployable services. Each service, or 'microservice,' corresponds to a specific business functionality and can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently.

Microservices overcome many drawbacks of monolithic architecture, notably offering better scalability and faster deployment. However, they come with their own challenges, including increased complexity, data consistency, and inter-service communication.

Monolithic vs Microservices

Determining whether to use monolithic architecture or microservices architecture depends largely on the specific needs and context of your project. Here, we delve into more technical considerations for each.

Monolithic Architecture: When is it the Optimal Choice?

Small-scale Applications: If you are developing a small-scale application with limited functionality, a monolithic architecture is beneficial due to its simplicity. The overhead of managing microservices may not be justified for a small, simple application.

Prototyping or MVPs: When you are developing a prototype or a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to validate your idea, a monolithic architecture allows you to quickly launch your application without spending time on setting up inter-service communication, data synchronisation, and other complexities associated with microservices.

Small Teams: Monolithic architectures are easier to manage for small teams since the application is in a single codebase. The team doesn't need to handle the operational complexity of running and coordinating multiple services.

Homogenous Tech Stack: If your application doesn't demand using different technologies for different parts of the application, the monolithic architecture works well. It allows you to keep the tech stack consistent across the application.

Microservices Architecture: When is it the Optimal Choice?

Scalability: If your application needs to handle high loads or traffic and should scale independently, a microservices architecture is beneficial. Each service can scale based on its needs, allowing for more efficient resource usage.

Complex Applications: For complex applications with numerous modules and functionalities, microservices can help keep the complexity manageable. Each service can focus on a single business capability, leading to better code organization and maintainability.

Heterogeneous Tech Stack: Microservices allow you to use the best technology for each service. If one part of your application can benefit from a specific language or technology, you can use it for that service without affecting others.

Continuous Deployment and Delivery: If you plan to follow a DevOps approach with Continuous Deployment and Continuous Delivery, microservices offer more flexibility. Changes to one service can be deployed without affecting others, leading to lesser deployment risk.

Remember, each application is unique, and the choice between monolithic and microservices architecture should be made based on the specific needs and context of your application.

Transitioning From Monolithic to Microservices

If you're planning to move from a monolithic architecture to a microservices architecture, it's not just a simple switch but rather a strategic transition. This process is not without its challenges but can be successfully accomplished with careful planning and execution.

Step-by-Step Transition Process:

  1. Identify and Define Microservices: Start by analysing your monolithic application and identifying potential services. Each service should correspond to a specific business function. Be thoughtful about service boundaries to ensure each microservice is cohesive and loosely coupled with others.
  2. Develop the Microservices Independently: Each microservice should be self-contained, meaning it has its own database and is independently deployable. This can involve a considerable amount of work, depending on the complexity of your application.
  3. Establish Communication Between Services: Microservices communicate with each other through APIs. You'll need to set up APIs for each service and ensure they can communicate effectively. This often involves choosing between synchronous protocols like REST or asynchronous protocols like AMQP, depending on your needs.
  4. Implement Service Discovery: In a microservices environment, services need to discover each other automatically. Tools like Kubernetes, Consul, or Eureka can be used to manage this.
  5. Plan for Data Migration: Transitioning to microservices often involves breaking up a central database into several smaller databases owned by each service. This needs to be planned and executed carefully to prevent data loss.
  6. Implement Centralised Logging and Monitoring: With multiple services running independently, centralized logging and monitoring become critical. Tools like the ELK stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) or Prometheus with Grafana can be used to manage this.
  7. Re-route Traffic: Gradually start re-routing application traffic to the new services. It's typically best to do this incrementally, starting with less critical services.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Data Consistency: In a microservices architecture, maintaining data consistency across services can be a challenge. You'll likely have to implement strategies like eventual consistency.
  • Inter-service Communication: Ensuring efficient and reliable communication between services is another challenge. This often involves choosing the right communication protocol and handling failures gracefully.
  • Increased Complexity: Managing multiple services, each with its own database and deployed independently, is inherently more complex than managing a single monolithic application.

Despite the challenges, transitioning from monolithic to microservices can offer significant benefits in terms of scalability, resilience, and speed of deployment. However, it requires a considerable amount of planning and re-architecture. As such, it's a decision that should not be taken lightly.


Choosing between monolithic and microservices architectures is a decision that hinges on several factors including the nature of your application, the size and skills of your team, your scalability needs, and your long-term goals.

A monolithic architecture, with its simplicity and homogeneity, might be ideal for small applications, MVPs, or applications that don't require extensive scaling. On the other hand, the microservices architecture, with its scalability, resilience, and technological flexibility, is often more suitable for complex, large-scale applications with high-traffic and frequent updates.

Making the transition from monolithic to microservices is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning and execution. While the process can be complex, it can also offer substantial benefits in terms of scalability and continuous deployment.
Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Each project comes with its unique needs and challenges, and the best architecture is one that most effectively addresses those specifics.

Looking to Build a Web Application?

Whether you're just starting on your journey or considering transitioning from monolithic to microservices, you don't have to navigate these complex decisions alone. At Blue Mandarin, our team of experienced developers and consultants are ready to help you make the best choices for your project.

We understand that choosing the right architecture can be a daunting task. That's why we offer a free consultation to help you understand your options and make the best decision for your application. With Blue Mandarin, you'll not just have a development team - you'll have a partner committed to ensuring the success of your project.

Feel free to get in touch with us and let us help you build a robust, scalable, and efficient web application that meets your business needs. We're looking forward to working with you.