David A Good

Monolith For The Win

September 02, 2021

All the common wisdom says to start with a monolith and evolve into microservices once you know you need it. So why does everyone ignore this advice and reach for microservices, even when building a system from scratch? Is microservices the engineer’s hammer?

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A few things come to mind:

  • Default: microservices has become the default architecture. People don’t even question it. Slight variation on this: people are used to working on mature systems which have already evolved to microservices. So when they build from scratch, they forget that they’re making a mistake my front-loading all the complexities of distributed systems, the burden of maintaining N microservices instead of one monolith, etc. instead of focusing on business logic.
  • Hiring: it seems obligatory these days that every job posting countains the word “microservices”. Surely no one would dare create a job posting which mentions “monolith”. Ironically, if the system were rightfully built as a monolith, it would make the engineers’ jobs much easier than working microservices. But then again, those engineers may consider it bad for their careers to spend even a year working on a monolith before it’s inevitable transition to microservices.

One more thing, microservices may be beneficial from the engineer’s perspective because each engineer may feel that they are building their own slice of the system which they own. Similarly, if each engineer is given freedom to make their own design/technical decisions, they may feel more empowered.

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