Microservices vs Web Services
21 Aug

Microservices vs Web Services: Difference

Mahipal Nehra

Microservices vs Web Services. Web application development has been on the rise since the beginning of this century but cloud computing has propelled it to a whole another level. The initial phase began with the development of monolithic backend and frontends but as these applications scaled up to more components, module independence was sought by developers, zero downtime was sought by business owners and their customers. To cater to the demand web services and microservices were introduced one after another under service-oriented architecture for mobile and web applications. To know more about monolithic and microservices architecture you can read our old blog.

In monolithic, the whole mobile and web application’s frontend and backend are closely coupled. The communication between application, modules, features, and functions happens internally whereas in service-oriented architecture this communication happens via web service APIs. Monolithic applications are difficult to scale up as everything is interdependent so you have to make the adjustments carefully otherwise it will impact the whole application.

Microservices can be a standalone service or a function that has its own database and can be implemented and deployed independently of other services. A web service is a service provided from one application to another through the World Wide Web.

Microservices vs. Web Services: Overview

Microservices vs Web Services. What is the difference between microservices and web services? Microservices and web services are application architectural styles that are modeled on the concept of service-oriented architecture where the applications, modules, and functions communicate with each other in the form of services.

What are Web Services?

A web service is a service provided from one application to another and both of them run on the same server instance.

What are Microservices?

Microservices can be a standalone service, module, or a function that has its own database and server instance. Microservices also have the load balancing capability which helps the application to distribute the computing load on to different replicas on other server instances. Microservices can also be used within web services but they will not be able to leverage load balancing capability on application-level hence such form architecture is avoided by web developers.

Why use microservices and web services?

Microservices vs Web Services. Web services provide independence at module and feature level whereas microservices can provide independence at almost all levels such as server instance, application, module, feature, and function level. The more independence you have the easier it becomes to scale up the functional capabilities of an application and provide service to a larger user base.

Why use Web Services?

Web services provide independence over monolithic applications at zero additional maintenance costs as the same number of server instances will be required. Although the time to develop applications on web services architecture is little more than incurs additional cost to the project it is worth the trouble as every application needs little tweaks and fixations in the future. The web services will allow you to scale up the functionality of your application modules without impacting the other modules.

Read: Backend Developer Roadmap for 2020

Why use Microservices?

Microservices provide more independence than web services but this independence comes at additional cost in development and maintenance. Microservices provide you endless support in scaling functional capabilities of application and user base that it can cater to. Although microservices can run on multiple server instances and can leverage cross-region replication to reduce latency in the application, besides that it also helps in disaster recovery management and load balancing surplus traffic by routing requests to replicas in other geographical regions. To know more about cross-region replication you can read our blog on AWS S3.

When to use microservices and web services?

Choosing between microservices and web services architecture for building a mobile or web application is a multiple factor-based decision. Following are the factors that will help you in choosing the right architecture for your application:

  • Current Scope of Project

  • Anticipated volatility in the Scope of the project

  • Anticipated user traction

  • Anticipated Computation Load

  • Expected uptime

  • Comparing cost to run multiple server instances of microservices vs loss of revenue due to downtime

  • Projecting ROI on development with respect to business growth

Read: Frontend Developer RoadMap 2020

When to use web services?

If you think that your application will be continuously getting new features and it will need frequent tweaks then you can use web services as well as microservices. If you think that you will have a countable user base and can afford downtime then go for web services architecture as it will be cheaper to build and run else go for microservices architecture. Web services are not an extremely fault-tolerant system hence there will be downtimes when web services fail.

Why do web services fail?

The web services, as well as web APIs, can fail partially or fully which may or may not cause complete shut down of the system depending on the following scenarios:

  • Failures of Infrastructure

  • Failures in Communication

  • Failures in Conversation

For a deep dive into these failure scenarios, you can visit this blog.

How a better scripting mechanism can be built to run web services?

One can use the following steps to enhance fault tolerance for web services:

  • Create a failsafe mechanism with circuit breakers for your web services.

  • Configure web service and web API timeouts cautiously so that it’s not high enough for becoming susceptible to security attacks and not too less that customers fail to receive data when they have a slow internet connection.

  • Track errors and error rates with loggers efficiently to find the bugs quickly.

  • Minimize points of failures and external dependencies.

  • Avoid single point of failure.

We do recommend this blog which discusses a hypothetical web services failure scenario and how it can be dealt with elegantly.

When to use Microservices?

Microservices should be used only when businesses anticipate hyper-growth in user base, project scope, and computation requirements. If you cannot afford downtime as it can cause a huge loss in revenue or your use case does not allow downtime then go for microservices architecture as it is an extremely fault-tolerant system. Every penny you spent on such a dynamic and highly resilient system will be worth the trouble.

One interesting fact that we would like to share is that Netflix has started its journey in 2008 to transform its complete architecture in microservices architecture and they completed the work in 2016. The engineers at Netflix created a software called chaos monkey which is responsible for randomly terminating instances in production to ensure that the implemented services are resilient to instance failures.

Read: Database developer roadmap 2020

The other fact is about Uber where they built more than 1000 microservices to build a system that can handle the hyper-growth in-cab bookings but it became extremely difficult to maintain such a system in terms of workload, cost to run and maintain. Hence we can learn from their experience that microservices are not a golden bullet that can kill all the problems you will have with your application. We need to choose the architecture wisely as we need to develop what we need not what we want. A real-time application needs a monolithic architecture then it needs to be you cannot fulfill its need with microservices.

Where to use microservices and web services?

Microservices and web services can be used in mobile and web applications of all domains but choosing them is dependent on the above-mentioned factors and use cases.

Where to use web services?

Web services are good to be used for productivity tools, small eCommerce platforms, content management systems, and dynamic websites with a good set of features.

Read: Frameworks and Libraries that are high in demand

Where to use microservices?

Microservices are good for banking, financial services, telecommunications, automobile, ERP, CRM, and giant tech platforms.

Who can help you in using microservices and web services?

Web services are now quite commonly used in the software development industry and any good developer will be able to help you in using microservices.

Microservices architecture is not simply an architectural style instead it is a complete infrastructure for faster development, deployment, monitoring, and fault management hence it is complex to build the right configuration. Only highly skilled solution architects can design such systems and medium to highly skilled software developers can work on it. Although the skill is not completely dependent on one’s experience it still plays a big role hence we will be estimating how much experience is good enough to work on microservices. We have experienced through a strict recruitment process in our services based software development company that the people who can architect a good microservices-based application are having the experience ranging from 8 to 18 years but the skill level was not the same among all age groups. The solutions architect should have at least 8 years of experience and software developers should have at least 3 years of experience in web development.

Posted by Mahipal Nehra | Posted at 21 Aug, 2020 Web