Monolithic architecture is a software design approach in which all the components of an application are built and integrated as a single, self-contained unit. In contrast, microservices architecture involves breaking down an application into smaller, independent components that communicate with each other through APIs.
While microservices architecture has become increasingly popular in recent years, being a hot topic and the rave of developers, you will find most of its applications, particularly in large and complex applications. Monolithic architecture is still a better fit for small teams and individual developers. Here are a few reasons why:
Simplicity: Monolithic architecture is simpler to understand and implement, especially for small teams and individual developers who may not have the resources or expertise to build and manage a complex microservices architecture. With monolithic architecture, all the components of the application are integrated into a single unit, which makes it easier to develop, test, and deploy the application.
Flexibility: Monolithic architecture offers more flexibility for small teams and individual developers who may need to make changes to the application quickly and easily. With microservices architecture, making changes to one component can require changes to other components as well, which can be time-consuming and complex. With monolithic architecture, changes can be made to the entire application as a single unit, which is often faster and easier.
Performance: Monolithic architecture can offer better performance for small teams and individual developers, especially for applications that are not heavily used or that do not require complex interactions between different components. With microservices architecture, the overhead of managing multiple components and communication between them can slow down the performance of the application. With monolithic architecture, all the components of the application are integrated into a single unit, which can improve performance and make the application faster and more responsive.
Cost: Monolithic architecture is generally less expensive for small teams and individual developers to implement and maintain, compared to microservices architecture. With microservices architecture, the cost of building and maintaining multiple components and the infrastructure to support them can be significant. With monolithic architecture, the cost is typically lower, because all the application components are integrated into a single unit.
Ease of debugging: One of the biggest advantages of monolithic architecture is that it is much easier to debug and troubleshoot issues within the application. With microservices architecture, it can be challenging to identify the root cause of an issue, because it may involve multiple components and complex interactions between them. With monolithic architecture, the entire application is a single unit, which makes it easier to track down and fix problems.
Easier to implement security: Another benefit of the monolithic architecture is that it is generally easier to implement security measures for the application. With microservices architecture, it can be difficult to ensure that all the components of the application are properly secured, because they are independent and may have different security requirements. With monolithic architecture, all the components of the application are integrated into a single unit, which makes it easier to implement consistent and comprehensive security measures.
Communication within the application: Implementation of Monolithic architecture reduces the burden and complexities of designing communication patterns between different parts of the application which are inherent in microservices. In microservices, where you might be communicating between services using network calls such as HTTP requests, gRPC or even via an intermediary like an event broker, monolithic architecture keeps things a lot more simple and less complicated.
In conclusion, monolithic architecture is considerably a better fit for small teams and individual developers who need a simple, flexible, and performant solution for their applications. While microservices architecture can offer many benefits for large and complex applications, monolithic architecture is still a viable and effective option for small teams and individual developers.
As with many software engineering patterns, there are trade-offs with monoliths just as there are with microservices. For a solopreneur or a startup with only 2-3 engineers building an MVP, microservices are often overkill and premature optimisation. Rather, a modular codebase can be adopted to allow for splitting as required in the future when growth happens (both on an application and team front).