Microservices architecture has become a popular choice for many developers and organizations, as it offers several advantages over the traditional monolithic architecture, where the entire application is built as a single unit. It refers to a specific way of designing software applications as a collection of independent and loosely coupled services, each with its own functionality and communication protocols. However, microservices architecture has some drawbacks that must be considered before adopting it. As organizations navigate the intricate landscape of Microservices, dissecting the pros and cons intricately woven into the fabric of enterprise architecture patterns becomes imperative, from enhanced scalability and agility to potential complexities in orchestration.

This article will explore the pros and cons of using microservice architecture to design software applications.

Pros Of Microservice Architecture

  • Improved scalability: Microservices provide a scalable solution for applications that handle increasing user demand. Unlike a monolithic application, where all components share the same resources and can crash under heavy load, a microservices application consists of independent services with their resources. This means that only the services that receive more traffic will use more resources, while the others will remain unaffected.

    Microservices also make deploying new features and updates easier without affecting the whole system. With a monolithic application, any change can require the entire system to be shut down and restarted, which can be time-consuming and risky. But with a microservices architecture, only the service that needs to be changed or updated has to be taken offline. At the same time, the rest of the system can continue to operate normally. This can reduce the deployment time and cost and minimize the chance of errors or downtime.

  • Enhanced fault isolation: A microservices architecture can reduce the impact of service failures on the rest of the application, as each microservice operates independently from the others. However, in a large and distributed microservices architecture, there are many dependencies among the services, and the developers need to protect the application from being shut down by a dependency failure. Luckily, the microservices architecture allows the developers to prevent failures from spreading with features like Circuit Breakers, which prevent the server resources from being wasted if a service has to wait for a failed service that never responds.
  • Technology and programming language neutral: A microservices-based application allows developers to use any language and platform to connect microservices. This gives developers more freedom to choose the best languages and technologies for each project and their team’s expertise.

    Developers can quickly adopt new technologies as they emerge and change by being independent of any specific programming language. A single technology stack does not limit developers because they can use the best tool for each task.

    The benefits of using different languages and technologies for microservices are:

    • Higher Productivity - Microservices can increase productivity and reduce the learning curve by allowing developers to use the tools they are most familiar with.
    • More Flexibility - Different languages and technologies offer flexibility in choosing the best fit for each project.
    • Better ROI - Developers can use the existing resources and adopt new technologies, resulting in better investment returns.
    • Easier Integration - Since microservices can be written in any language, it is easier to integrate with legacy systems.
  • Increased data security and compliance: Microservices allow businesses to secure their data more effectively by dividing it into smaller, specific units. Each service handles a particular task and has its security measures. This is safer than having a single monolithic database that the whole application can access. Moreover, complying with various regulations is crucial for success in today’s business world. Regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA have strict rules on how businesses must manage personal data.

    Most developers use secure APIs to connect microservices. A fast API protects the data it processes by ensuring only authorized applications, users, and servers can access it. For microservices dealing with sensitive or confidential information, a secure API gives developers complete control over the data the extensive application and its users can access. This simplifies the process of meeting the requirements of HIPAA, GDPR, and other data security standards.

Cons Of Microservice Architecture

  • Complexity: Microservices are more complex than most monolithic applications, as they involve many more components that must be coordinated and managed. This requires much effort, planning, and automation to ensure that the communication, monitoring, testing, and deployment processes run smoothly.
  • Data management: Data management is a challenge in microservice architecture because each has its own data store and data model, which can lead to data inconsistency, duplication, and isolation.
  • Microservices must ensure that the data across the services is consistent and accurate. However, achieving data consistency in a distributed system is difficult, as there are network failures, concurrency, and latency.
  • Microservices may need to duplicate some data from other services to improve their performance and availability, such as caching or replicating data. However, data duplication can also introduce problems such as data synchronization, storage overhead, and stale data.
  • Microservices have to isolate their data from other services to maintain their autonomy and independence, which means they cannot directly access or modify the data of other services.
  • Increase in resource usage and costs: Microservices architecture increases resource usage because it involves more components and communication than a monolithic architecture. Microservices need to communicate with each other through remote calls, which can generate a lot of network traffic. This can increase the network latency and processing costs, which can affect the application's performance and reliability. Microservices are isolated and need their own CPU and runtime environment, which can consume more resources than a single application. The developers need to use more tools, servers, and APIs to support the services' diversity and independence. Each service can use a different programming language and technology stack, which can increase the demand for resources.
  • Security threats: Microservices pose significant security challenges compared to monolithic applications because they increase the amount of data exchanged between modules over the network. When multiple small containers are used, they expose more parts of the system to the network, which also means exposure of more parts of the system to potential attackers. Also, because containers are easy to replicate, one vulnerability in one module can become a bigger problem. Often, the same source code is used across several applications, which can give hackers easy access to the system. Therefore, microservices can quickly become a security nightmare without the right tools and training.

Final Words

Microservices architecture has become a popular choice for many developers and organizations, as it offers several advantages over the traditional monolithic architecture, where the entire application is built as a single unit. However, microservices architecture has some drawbacks that must be considered before adopting it. Enterprise architecture patterns can help developers and organizations achieve various goals, such as scalability, flexibility, resilience, and agility, and address multiple challenges, such as complexity, communication, data management, security, and compliance.

Author's Bio: 

Kaushal Shah manages digital marketing communications for the enterprise technology services provided by Rishabh Software.