Microservices vs SOA: What’s the Difference?

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Microservices and Service-Oriented Architecture are two distinct types of architectures, but they have a few similarities as well. For instance, services are the main component of both architectures. In terms of service characteristics, each has something unique to offer.

To gain a much better understanding of the difference between Microservices and Service-Oriented Architecture, let’s look into their components.

What are Microservices?

This software development technique focuses on building applications as suites of loosely coupled services or microservices. This particular method of development is advantageous because it enhances modularity. This makes software easier to create, test, and understand.

What is a Service-Oriented Architecture?

This architectural style allows services to communicate with each other across various platforms. The communications protocol permits tasks as simple as data passing. It also allows two or more services to coordinate on a certain activity.

Key Differences Between MSA and SOA

Is there really a difference between Microservices and Service-Oriented Architecture? Listed below are a few factors that can help you answer that question and distinguish one from the other.

  • Coordination

Experts at BedRock IT company from Ottawa point out that both architectures permit services to be developed in different programming languages. Multiple teams can take part in the development. But in SOA, each team has to be aware of the shared communication mechanism. For microservices, little to no coordination is needed. The latter allows services to be created, tested, and deployed in a short period of time.

  • Component sharing

SOA promotes component sharing while MSA minimizes the need for doing so. Bounded context or the pairing of a component and data as a single unit that comes with slight dependencies is what reduces the need for sharing of components. Note that SOA relies on multiple services to accomplish a single business request, which makes it slower than MSA.

  • Communication

Microservices utilize less complex messaging systems while an SOA needs an Enterprise Service Bus to facilitate communication between different applications. This ESB could be detrimental to the SOA’s system. If one service slows down, it could jam the ESB with requests.

Since microservices can function without this component in their communication network, applications will continue to operate properly even if one shuts down. The rest of the microservices should be able to carry out requests without a problem.

  • Messaging middleware

Compared to MSA, an SOA uses messaging middleware that comes with multiple capabilities. Most of these features aren’t available in an MSA. That includes mediation, routing, message enhancement and protocol transformation.

  • Remote services

SOA relies on Message Queuing, Advanced Message Queuing, and Simple Object Access Protocols. As for MSA, the architecture only depends on two protocols, Representational State Transfer and simple messaging. Most of the time, these protocols are homogeneous.

  • Interoperability

Multiple heterogeneous protocols are essential parts of an SOA’s messaging middleware component. For those who want to utilize several systems with different protocols, this type of architecture is for you. But if you want all applications to be accessible through a shared protocol, MSA is the best option.

  • Size

Apart from having distinct components, MSA and SOA have different sizes and scopes. These are significantly smaller than that of the latter’s; thus, the name microservices. Each of the components has a specific function, unlike SOA services, which offer multiple business functionalities.

The components mentioned don’t necessarily indicate one’s superiority over the other. The best type of software development architecture is one that’s the most appropriate for the software you’re creating. Microservices fit smaller web-based systems while Service-Oriented Architecture is best used for larger and more complex app environments that need to be integrated with other services.

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