5 reasons why companies choose monolith over microservices

Bikalpa Thapa
Web Developer

The short answer is ‘yes’. As we mentioned in our previous post on migrating clients from monolith to microservices – for some companies, microservices are not always the best fit for their needs. In fact, a ready-to-code development team from Proshore recently helped a client, Psyflix, migrate a set of microservices to a single server to optimize their streaming platform.

Here are 5 reasons why companies might choose monolith architecture over microservices. 

1️⃣ Keep development costs down

With microservices, you need a full-stack team to manage them effectively – something unfeasible for many startups. Without a dedicated team, microservices can easily spiral out of control, whereas monolith architecture can be easily handled by a single developer. 

Building out microservices in a system like Kubernetes is expensive, and an unnecessary outlay when a product doesn’t yet have high volumes of users. With one or two thousand users, a single server is a viable option. A single codebase is also much easier to develop without the need to bring in a range of coding expertise. That makes monolith architecture ideal for early-stage startups with limited resources. 

2️⃣ Faster development and testing

Running different microservices at the same time automatically makes them more complex to manage and maintain. Without proper management, having multiple teams responsible for different microservices, development and debugging can slow down. 

As monolith architecture uses a single executable file, it’s much quicker to test and deploy. That makes end-to-end testing much faster, and because it’s a single codebase, development, and debugging are also much more straightforward. 

3️⃣ Minimize disruption to services

With microservices, if there are issues with one part of the system, then other features can usually still run unaffected. One drawback of monolith architecture is that if something goes wrong – a single error might impact other parts of the system. However, there is a robust workaround.

Developers working in monolith architecture can overcome disruptions to a service by deploying a technique known as Server Side Generation (SSG). This hybrid approach is a combination of Server Side Rendering (SSR) and Client Side Rendering (CSR). 

What it effectively does is generate static HTML pages that incorporate client-side JavaScript, so a page can be updated as and when needed. This means that, for example, if a user has begun watching a video and there’s an issue elsewhere – their viewing stream continues uninterrupted.

4️⃣ Scalability is still a possibility 

Microservices are great for scaling businesses that need the ability to scale specific components up or down based on user demand. But to a certain extent, this is also possible with monolith architecture. 

For example, you might initially combine 4 or 5 core microservices onto a single server in a monolith architecture. Additional microservices could be added and connected to it and scaled as needed by adding more containers. 

5️⃣ Optimize resources to meet demand

What a software product offers users, the features used most frequently, and the frequency of use all impact what’s needed to ensure a smooth and seamless user experience.

If you’re dealing with a few thousand users who use a limited number of features – such as watching videos or downloading materials – for short periods of time, monolith architecture might be the best match for your needs. This will also save you unnecessary costs associated with building and maintaining multiple microservices.  

Further down the line, when you’re running into millions of users around the world, splitting your product into microservices makes more sense, as famously demonstrated by the streaming giant Netflix. The beauty of monolith architecture is that both user capacity and cost are good indicators of when the time is right for microservices. 

Making the case for monolith

It’s tempting for startups to jump straight into microservices without fully appreciating the potential advantages – including cost-savings – of monolith architecture. Development, deployment, and debugging can all be much more straightforward and easy to manage in monolith. On top of that, fewer APIs are needed to connect particular functionality.

For companies with a rapidly growing user base – from tens to hundreds of thousands of users in a short space of time, monolith probably isn’t the right choice. But for early-stage startups with limited resources and uncertainty about their rate of expansion, monolith gives them a solid starting point.  

The good news for companies starting on the wrong path, the migration back from microservices to monolith architecture is not as painful as you might think. In our experience, there’s around a day of downtime. 

With a ready-to-code development team from Proshore, you can also rest assured that when it’s the right time to make the move to microservices – we have the skills and experience to ensure a smooth transition. 

In fact, we make it easy to switch back to microservices should you need to scale up in the future. For more on this, see our posts on making the move from monolith to microservices and how to scale microservices without using Kubernetes.

From monolith to microservices: What we’ve learned from helping clients make that journey

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How to scale microservices without using Kubernetes

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Discover how Proshore’s dedicated teams can support your migration to and from monolith and microservices – book a call.

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