Serverless Architectures: Monoliths, Nanoservices, Microservices & Hybrids

The Monolith

Whenever I hear “monolith”, I think of a massive LAMP project with a single, burning hot MySQL database.

monolith server
(not always the case). The monolith architecture looks something like this in Serverless:

I.e. all requests to go to a single Lambda function, app.js. Users and games have nothing to do with one another but the application logic for users and games are in the same Lambda function.

Pros

We found that the greatest advantage that the monolith had over nanoservices and microservices was speed of deployment. With nanoservices and microservices, you have to deploy multiple copies of dependant node_modules (with Node.js) and any library code that your functions share which can be slow. With the monolith, it’s a single function deployment to all API endpoints so deployment is faster. On the other hand, how common is it to want to deploy all endpoints…

Cons

This architecture in Serverless, has similar drawbacks to the monolithic architecture in general:

  • Tighter coupling. In the example above, app.js is responsible for both users and games. If a bug gets introduced into the users part of the function, it’s more likely that the games part might break too
  • Complexity. If all application logic is in a single function, the function can get more complicated which can slow down development and make it easier to introduce bugs

Microservices

Microservices in Serverless looks something like this:

Pros

The advantages of the microservices architecture in Serverless inherits advantages of microservices in general. A couple:

  • Separation of concerns. If a bug has been introduced into games.js, calls to users.js should carry on working. Of course, maybe GET /users/:id might contact the games microservice to get games that the user plays but if users.js and games.js are proper microservices then users.js should handle games.js failing and vice versa
  • Less complexity. Adding additional functionality to games.js doesn’t make the users.js codebase any more complicated

Cons

As mentioned above with the monolith, microservices in Serverless can result in slower deployments.

Nanoservices

Nanoservices take microservices to the extreme – one function per endpoint instead of one per resource:

Pros

Nanoservices take the advantages of microservices and amplifies them. Separation of concerns is greater – get_users.js is probably going to be simpler than users.js that handles everything to do with a user.

Cons

Again, similar to microservices but even more so – the number of functions to deploy can get huge so deployment time can increase.

Hybrid

There is nothing to stop Developers taking a hybrid approach to their architecture e.g. a mixture of nanoservices and microservices. In our example, if there was a lot of game functionality, it might make sense to split the functionality into nanoservices but if is less functionality related to users, microservices could be more appropriate:

If you have any examples of how you’re architecting your Serverless projects, tell us about it!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s