Monolithic vs Microservices: Exploring the Benefits and Key Differences

April 17, 2024

Monolithic vs Microservices Exploring the Benefits and Key Differences

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about choosing between a monolithic vs microservices-based approach for software architecture.

Microservices architecture has been a buzzword in the software development industry. From 2014 to 2019, Google Trends revealed that Google searches for microservices architecture have increased significantly, indicating its popularity among developers.

However, this does not mean that monolithic architecture is becoming obsolete.

As businesses continue to embrace digital transformation and demand faster and more agile development, the debate between these two architectures has become increasingly relevant.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and key differences between monolithic vs microservices architectures.

What is a monolithic architecture?

Monolithic architecture is a traditional way of designing software where everything is built together as one big, unified block. All the parts are closely connected, making the program self-contained and independent—kind of like what you’d imagine from something called a “monolith.”

In that monolith architecture setup, we’re talking about several layers: a database, a services layer, and a user interface at the front end. Each layer’s got its own team specializing in the technologies used in that layer.

So, you might have database admins and developers handling something like a Structured Query Language (SQL) database, a dedicated back-end team taking care of the services layer, and a front-end team focused on making the user interface look good.

This kind of arrangement is familiar to most developers. It’s typical to find monolithic architecture in larger enterprises, which have been using this approach for a long time and are unlikely to adopt the risk of migrating to something new.

Advantages of monolithic architecture

By keeping all its components and functionality self-contained, a monolithic application is easier to develop and manage for smaller teams. Certain benefits of monolithic architectures include:

Simplified code architecture

A single codebase simplifies understanding and maintenance compared to multiple interconnected codes. With a monolithic architecture, your application’s code is unified, making it clearer how its parts interact. This streamlines development, as developers don’t need to manage inter-service communication.

Effortless debugging and testing

Everything works together as one unit in a monolithic architecture. This allows you to zip through end-to-end testing in no time—so testing and debugging a whole app is quick and smooth, all thanks to a central logging system.

Fast development process

With everything in your app working closely together, you can whip up new features faster. Developers can tweak the code without stressing about messing up other parts of the app.

Dedicated development teams will also help to speed up the development process. StarTechUP can provide you with dedicated developers to ensure the rapid delivery of your monolithic application!

Startechup Dedicated Team

Prompt deployment

Deploying monolithic applications is way simpler since you have to handle one single unit. It’s a breeze to manage and cuts down on those pesky deployment errors. Plus, with all your code in one spot, rolling back changes is easy if things don’t go as planned during deployment.

Use case for monolithic architecture

An example of a monolithic architecture use case is Amazon.

Amazon Prime Video is an example of a company that weighed monoliths against microservices and chose a monolith application. Its app for monitoring audio and video quality, initially set up as distributed components, became too costly at scale. Eventually, the team rearchitected their infrastructure, merging all components into one monolithic application.

Generally, monolithic architectures are suitable for smaller applications with simple functionalities. It’s ideal for startups and businesses operating on a tight budget as it requires fewer resources to develop and maintain.

Moreover, monolithic architecture is a solid pick if you’re pretty sure your product won’t need to scale up much in the future. It lets you keep things simple and affordable without cutting corners on quality.

Since everything is interconnected, you don’t have to worry about managing communication between services. This makes it easier for small teams to work together without the need for additional overhead or specialized expertise.

What is a microservices architecture?

While monolithic applications are all about being one big piece, microservices architecture splits it into several smaller, independent pieces.

Microservices are like building a big app with LEGO bricks. Imagine each small, modular service as a LEGO piece. They chat through APIs, have their own little databases and code, and work towards a specific business goal.

Instead of one big “monolith” box, you’ve got a bunch of services that can connect in all sorts of ways. So, just like you’d snap LEGO pieces together, microservices link up to create an entire application.

In a microservices architecture, each service has its own dedicated development team. This setup makes it easier to update, test, deploy, and scale each service on its own, keeping things manageable and less complicated.

Advantages of microservice architecture

When it comes to benefits, microservices architecture is a strong contender. This approach offers a lot of business advantages, including:

Highly scalable

A microservices approach lets you scale up just the bits of your app that need it when demand goes up. So, instead of making the whole thing bigger, you focus on the parts getting the most action.

Flexibility to use different technologies

You can choose the best language and technology stack for each service based on their unique requirements. Microservices aren’t limited to one technology stack, which makes them more flexible and efficient.

microservice architecture quote

Promote agility and faster development

Each service can be developed, tested, and deployed independently without affecting the rest of the application. This allows for faster development cycles, making it easier to change and roll out new features quickly since you’re only working on a small piece at a time.

Independent services

A Microservice architecture lets services be developed independently, spreading business logic across several platforms without workflow or tool dependencies. This autonomy means if one service fails, the others remain unaffected, keeping the application robust and operational despite individual setbacks.

Use case for microservices architecture

A prime example of a company using microservices architecture is Netflix.

They have thousands of services running at any given time, allowing them to scale up quickly and efficiently when demand increases. This setup also helps them isolate faults and maintain uptime if a service goes down.

eBay greatly benefited from microservices architecture. Previously, rising traffic overwhelmed eBay’s systems, struggling with growth complexities. To manage 75 billion daily database calls, eBay adopted microservices, dividing the application, database, and search engines. Since introducing this technology, regular updates have stabilized the website and improved its time-to-market rate.

Microservices are versatile, often used to revamp legacy systems. Imagine you’re a company looking to modernize a cumbersome legacy system, by moving to the cloud, updating functionalities, or generally enhancing your digital infrastructure. Microservices allow for gradual improvements with minimal downtime and resource use.

They’re also ideal for handling real-time data streaming and processing, key for streaming services, online banking, or eCommerce applications. Microservices handle these data loads more efficiently than traditional monolithic applications.

So, if you’re working on an application with complex business logic that requires frequent updates or scaling up capabilities while keeping costs manageable, microservices architecture could be the way to go.

Monolithic and Microservices Architectures: Key Differences

If you are still struggling to decide which architecture to choose, you are not alone. Many businesses and tech teams face this challenge, especially when starting complex applications.

So, how do monolithic and microservices architectures differ? Here’s a quick breakdown:


Monolithic architectures are simpler, with all components tightly coupled in one unit. This will work well for small applications, but as projects grow and become complex, this tight coupling can pose challenges in maintaining the system.

In contrast, microservices have a more complex setup, consisting of many services that must communicate with each other. Being a distributed system, microservices require careful selection and setup of connections between modules and databases. Additionally, since these applications are made up of independent services, each must be deployed separately.

The size and scope of applications

Monolithic architecture is suitable for smaller applications with limited functionalities. It’s an excellent choice for startups or businesses that operate on a tight budget as it requires fewer resources to develop and maintain.

In contrast, microservices architectures are more suitable for large, complex applications that require frequent updates and scaling-up capabilities.

Ease of maintenance and scalability

Monolithic architectures require a full-scale deployment for every code change, making maintenance and updates more challenging. This setup also makes it difficult to scale individual components of the application independently.

On the other hand, microservices have independent services that can be updated and deployed separately, making maintenance easier and allowing for scaling up specific components without affecting others.

monolithic architecture quote


Neither is superior.

A monolith architecture is enhanced by technology specialists in their expertise areas, while microservices gain from compartmentalization and a focus on standards for better interoperability. Monolithic apps, with their single codebase, are more exposed to security threats.

But with microservices, since everything’s spread out and in smaller chunks, dealing with security hiccups can be a lot easier.

Human Resources and Development Time

A monolithic architecture may require fewer resources to build, but it can also be challenging for a large team of developers to work on the same codebase.

Microservices architectures allow for smaller teams to work independently, reducing the time needed for development and deployment.


A monolithic architecture is generally less expensive to develop and maintain since it requires fewer resources overall. However, as an application grows in size and complexity, the costs of maintaining a monolithic architecture may increase.

Microservices architecture can be more expensive to develop and manage initially, but it offers greater scalability and flexibility in the long run. Additionally, since each service is independent, it is easier to allocate resources and prioritize updates based on their significance.

In conclusion, both monolithic and microservices architectures have their strengths and weaknesses.

But when you’re choosing between monolithic and microservices architecture, you need to know some factors that impact your decision.

Let’s dive into them in the next section!

Factors to Consider When Choosing Architectures for Your Application

Choosing between monolithic and microservices architectures is like deciding on the blueprint for your next big project.

Here’s the deal: microservices don’t make your app simpler. Instead, they lay bare the complexities, giving developers the tools they need to craft, manage, and scale up big-time applications. Monolithics, however, are simple to set up and manage, but they grow in complexity as the project scales.

So, when you’re at that crossroads, think carefully about these crucial factors:

Business goals

Before selecting a software architecture, assess your business goals. Monolithic architectures may be simpler initially but can grow complex. Microservices offer agility, scalability, and ease of development, making them ideal for businesses targeting significant growth due to their advantages in development speed, fault isolation, and scalability.

Application size

For small, simple applications, a monolithic architecture may be sufficient, offering ease of development without the need for integrating multiple services. However, for larger, more complex applications that need frequent updates and scalability, a microservices architecture is preferable. It allows for more flexibility in adding features and can significantly save development time in complex systems, as demonstrated by Netflix’s use of AWS Lambda.

Team size and structure

Developing with microservices demands a unique set of skills and a design approach. Unlike monolithic applications, it requires knowledge of cloud architecture, APIs, containerization, and modern cloud application skills. Additionally, troubleshooting in a distributed architecture can be challenging for those new to microservices.


A monolithic app runs on one server, while microservices thrive in the cloud. Although microservices can run on a single server, they’re usually hosted on the cloud for better scalability, fault tolerance, and availability.

Before starting with microservices, the right infrastructure is crucial. Setting up microservices takes more effort initially, but they’re better for creating complex, scalable applications.

Resources and budget

Moving from a monolithic to a microservices architecture requires breaking down an application into independent services, defining their boundaries, setting up communication mechanisms, and revamping deployment and monitoring. The right technical skills, time, and budget are essential for a successful migration.

The shift to microservices is complex and can be time-consuming, carrying certain risks. It often involves rewriting or refactoring code, updating infrastructure and deployment processes, and ensuring services work well together. Ensure the benefits of microservices justify the potential disruptions during migration.

Many businesses choose microservices architecture for its flexibility, scalability, and agility. However, monolithic architectures are still relevant for simple, small-scale applications.

Either way, choosing the right architecture can make or break an application’s success. So consider these factors carefully when making your decision. Having experts assist in the process can also greatly benefit your project.

development team working together

Let’s Build Your App!

In the battle of monolithic vs microservices architecture, it’s not about which one is better; it’s more about what fits your project the most.

At StarTechUP, a software development company in the Phlippines, we dedicate ourselves to building the best software for our clients. Our team of experienced developers will work with you to understand your business needs and choose an architecture that suits your project best.

Contact us today to get started on creating your dream application! And don’t forget, whether it’s monolithic or microservices, we’re here to help turn your ideas into reality.

About the author: Andrea Jacinto - Content Writer

A content writer with a strong SEO background, Andrea has been working with digital marketers from different fields to create optimized articles which are informative, digestible, and fun to read. Now, she's writing for StarTechUP to deliver the latest developments in tech to readers around the world. View on Linkedin