Quick guide: Monolith vs Microservices vs Serverless

Are we facing the next generation of Cloud services? In the next lines, you will find a comparison between some types of software architectures and go in-depth into each.

Monolith vs Microservices vs Serverless

The way we write software, as well as the way the software is deployed, have changed dramatically in the past few years thanks to the Microservices and Serverless architectures that have made the developer’s life much easier. Now, we can solve problems in ways we never thought possible.

What does all this mean? Are we facing the next generation of Cloud services? In the next lines, I will compare some types of software architectures and go in-depth into each.

Content related: Serverless architecture: from buzzword to reality – Part I

In legacy Monoliths architectures, the biggest advantage can be also the biggest downside. They can solve a limited number of problems with a limited number of solutions that are relatively simple to operate.

In Microservices, each component is an independent part that can scale horizontally and interact with each other. However, the biggest disadvantages of using microservices are the complexity of splitting the application into smaller parts and the interactions that are needed because of that, as well as the complexity of operations (DevOps team).

On the other hand, Serverless computing allows you to run any function without worrying about the infrastructure. This means that servers, software, tools, backup, and scaling are parts of the platform. Serverless does not mean that servers are no longer involved, but developers no longer have to worry about managing them.

You might like this: Working with Serverless architecture: pros and cons – Part II

Looking for agility and scalability

Monolith vs Microservices vs Serverless

One of the main ideas behind Microservices architectures and more recent Serverless architectures is driven by the need for greater agility and scalability that the industry demands nowadays. This is why many organizations have recently been moving from Monolithic to Microservices and  giving a chance to Serverless architectures.

For example, with a Monolithic architecture, a single faulty service can bring down the entire application, but Microservices architecture has emerged as a way to break the Monolithic applications into smaller services, allowing each service to run in its own container so they are treated as an independent component. All this brings several benefits, such as being prepared for scaling by component and being more robust to face possible failures.

Going a bit further, Serverless architecture breaks an application into even smaller pieces than those that Microservices architectures can do, making it more granular and achieving the level of functions and events. We are changing from something big (Monolithic) to something small (Microservices), and then, to something even smaller (Serverless).

In terms of efficiency of scaling, the advantage of switching from Monolithic to Microservices is the same we get from moving from Microservices to Serverless (functions). In Microservices, you scale a whole service instead of just a small piece of code where the bottleneck is. That is why Serverless is much more cost-effective than others. Serverless architecture not only economizes the physical infrastructure but also helps to reduce operations aspects allowing developers to focus on business logic instead of infrastructure.

Serverless includes concurrent asynchronous workloads, scaling requirements, stateless, unpredictable traffic, ephemeral and highly dynamic. It is important to understand how Serverless works in order to choose the best available Serverless frameworks and use them in the most accurate way.

A Serverless service can respond to events (stimulations) in a massively parallel way. Likewise, it can respond to HTTP requests, events raised by other services, or it can be invoked directly using an API. There is no risk to cost by over-provisioning, and there is no risk to performance by under-provisioning.

From my point of view, there is space for both Microservices and Serverless architecture to coexist. The reason for this is that there are certain things that cannot be done only with Serverless (functions), and there are things that can also be done faster with Microservices (like keeping the database connections). By grouping some functions together behind an API, you can create Microservices, so the key here is to choose correctly where each option should be used.

To Sum Up

Monolith vs Microservices vs Serverless

If the product is relatively simple, we could go with Monolith architectures and avoid splitting the application into Microservices. On the contrary, if the application is dividable into multiple parts, and they can be independent, you should think about Microservices.

Take into account that Serverless architecture will be a good thing if you are looking into different purposes such as encoding, image processing, format conversion, login and registration, live streaming video, event-driven processing, web/mobile/IoT applications, and event workflows, among others.

Developers are benefited by having Serverless as another tool to create better applications or to combine with other tools. It is all about choosing wisely.

Do not miss: Microservices: the biggest challenge might be your own company

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