Community Blog Three Signs it's Time to Leave Your Monolithic Applications Behind

Three Signs it's Time to Leave Your Monolithic Applications Behind

This article describes the three signs that you should look out for switching from a monolithic architecture to microservices.

To learn more about microservices and the benefits of a cloud-native architecture for your business, download The Cloud-Native Architecture White Paper today.

In today's digital world, applications are the beating heart of many enterprises. However, applications are often built as single units, constrained within monolithic architectures. This structure is outdated and does not provide the agility you need to compete in an increasingly competitive, online and global market.

To address this challenge, microservices are an emerging trend, where your applications are structured as a collection of highly maintainable and testable services. These microservices are expressed formally with enterprise-oriented APIs, encapsulating a core business capability. The same service can be reused in more than one business process, across different digital touchpoints and business channels, depending on your requirements.

Switching from a monolithic architecture to microservices depends on your current applications and codebase. Here are three signs your applications are not fit-for-purpose.

Sign 1: Poor O&M and Unacceptable Intrusions

Huge monolithic applications lack dependency isolation, causing your code to blend between your different modules. This has an adverse knock-on effect where it becomes increasingly difficult to coordinate your development efforts and manage your architecture where, for example, one peak in demand may cause an unstable module to slow down the entire application. However, you cannot scale up this module. Instead, you are forced to scale the entire application, which is both a resource-intensive and expensive approach.

As a result, one simple change to your codebase may affect other parts of your application in ways you did not expect. This increases complexity across your testing processes and reduces your test coverage, leaving your applications vulnerable to bugs and other issues.

Sign 2: Resource-Intensive Development, Testing and O&M

If your software development, testing, and O&M are all carried out using a set of discrete and manual processes, this is both an ineffective and inefficient way of working.

For example, let's say your user management service is packaged, released, and run as an independent module. You may assume you can simply split this module into multiple submodules to build microservice architectures. But each submodule must also be independently packaged, released, and run.

As a result, each development, testing, and O&M engineer must manage more submodules, which increases the workload of each engineer, and therefore increases the cost of your software development efforts.

Sign 3: Automation Is Lacking

Automation can help streamline your operations and boost your performance. However, the larger your architecture is, the more automation capability is required. As your number of APIs increases, more test cases are required, and more software modules are queued to be tested and released. In this case, insufficient automation may extend your software release time. If you release software in multiple environments or in a remote environment, you must consult experts to deal with the environmental differences.

Furthermore, when a large number of processes run in your environment, manual O&M is susceptible to unpredictable faults, which cannot be reproduced. As a result, rectifying faults usually takes a long time and requires expert support. All of these issues may extend your software release time, increasing risks across your applications, and increasing your O&M costs.

Before Your Switch

Making the switch from a monolithic architecture to microservices is a complex undertaking. It's not as easy as splitting your monolithic application into microservices. If you take this simplified approach, you may not split your monolithic applications in the right way and your service architecture will not match the organization architecture, causing the following issues:

Complicated release and maintenance: Small applications, developed by small teams, do not need to be split into multiple microservices. A tightly coupled module that includes a small amount of code can be released and maintained as a whole. If you split the module into multiple microservices, you can release and maintain only one microservice each time.

Data dependencies: If you split a tightly coupled module into multiple microservices that share a database, data changes are fanned out across the microservices. This results in data dependencies between the microservices.

Performance degradation: If you split a tightly coupled module into multiple microservices, you must use distributed calls rather than local calls to call the module. As a result, the response time increases by thousands of times, which sharply degrades the overall performance.

Get the Cloud-Native Architecture White Paper

Microservices are a key component of a cloud-native architecture, helping you realize the full benefits of the cloud. Alibaba Cloud can help you set-up, deploy and manage a cloud-native architecture to innovate and optimize your business. To find out more download The Cloud-Native Architecture White Paper today.

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