Modular vs. Monolithic vs. Microservices Architectures: CRO

What is modular architecture
Source: Stencil

Currently in eCommerce, there are three popular forms of architecture: Monolithic, microservices, and modular. Many companies wonder which architecture is right for their business. In this article, we’ll define these three forms of architecture, and explore which businesses should consider using each type.

Let’s dive in.

Monolithic versus microservices

Monolithic architecture

The two most common forms of eCommerce architecture are monolithic and microservices. In many ways, these are opposites. A monolithic architecture is a single model based on one platform. Think Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento. Monolithic architecture is great for companies needing an out-of-the-box eCommerce store. It’s simple and easy to launch and manage. 

The problem with monolithic architecture is its simplicity. When one point breaks, nothing works like it should. Everything is interconnected. Its greatest advantage — simplicity — is also its downfall. More established companies also regularly require more customization than is available within a monolithic architecture. That’s why microservices is popular among larger eCommerce brands.

Microservice architecture

Unlike monolithic architecture, microservice architecture is loosely coupled. Everything about a website operates on its own. Rather than being one single framework, a microservice is many tools operating together to bring to life one eCommerce store.  

The main advantage of microservice architecture is the flexibility. There is a lot of room for features to be changed and swapped out for other parts. It also offers an extra layer of protection: when one part of the site goes down, the other microservices can continue operating since they’re made up of unique systems. 

As you can imagine, all these moving pieces are a lot to manage. Running a microservice architecture is expensive and requires a lot of managerial oversight. 

Fortunately, there’s a middle ground between monolithic and microservice architectures. It’s called modular architecture.

The middleground: modular architecture

Modular architecture is the middle ground. It offers a lot of the simplicity of the monolithic framework, with the customizable functions of a microservice architecture. As a result, it is also a middle-tier priced option that is popular among growing eCommerce brands. 

With a modular architecture, you don’t have to go with a one-size-fits-all approach to eCommerce functionality. Meanwhile, you also don’t have to spend a fortune getting basic customizations working on your website. In other words, modular frameworks are the future. sure your eCommerce store isn’t reliant on a single 

At what stage in the eCommerce lifecycle should I use a monolithic, microservice, versus modular framework?

Now comes the hard question: Which one is right for your business? Companies in the middle are always the hardest to define. Obviously massive companies like Netflix, who can spend a fortune and use the full extent of customization, should use a microservice framework. Likewise, an upstart eCommerce store making hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue would do just fine on a monolithic system.

Every business has different needs and resources. It’s impossible to make a blanket formula to determine whether one of these frameworks is best for every business within a certain category. It’s like asking, when does a business go from being a startup to being an SME? And when does an SME graduate into the level of enterprise? There’s no fine line.

In our case, you should instead consider your priorities as an eCommerce company. How much customization versus simplicity are you hoping to get out of your online store? What is your available budget? How many developers do you have available to manage your website?

Answer these questions first. Once you have an answer, it’ll be easier to determine which eCommerce architecture is right for your company at this stage.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like this one: 4 Leaders in Modular eCommerce Architecture.

  • avatar
    Surinder Singh
  • Surinder is the Senior Vice President of Engineering. Shortly after completing his Computer Science degree, he joined Anatta in 2011 as its second employee. Today, he runs a 15+ person team and oversees a dozen projects simultaneously. Surinder’s expertise includes Wordpress, Magento, Shopify, and creating Progress Web Apps (PWA) using AWS infrastructure.
Topics: CRO, Platform