Microservices 3 min

Microservices vs ESB

How microservices pave the way to a new future in integration technology

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
Microservices vs ESB

How do you build a proper IT infrastructure? And where to start. The Monolithic Application with its ESB used to be the answer. But this is 2021 and the world is fast becoming API-first and cloud-based. This dynamic environment requires a multi-faceted solution. Enter, Microservices Architecture (MSA). But what are microservices and how do they differ from ESB? Is it truly microservices vs ESB or can they coexist? Let’s dive in. 

Starting with the Monolithic Application

First there was the monolithic application. A single-tiered software application upon which all server-side data processes used to be built. For instance, it might contain a web server, a load balancer, a catalog service for product images, an ordering system, a payment function, and a shipping component. All managed from a single unit.

There is a case to be made that a monolithic application is still a great way to start when designing your Enterprise Architecture. Beginning with a foundational ‘chunk’ in mind actually helps when mapping out the total design of your IT infrastructure. 

What part does an ESB play in this?

In the 90’s the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) emerged into the industry. Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), backed by SOA, became the preferred middleware pattern to solve most of the problems of traditional monolithic applications.

ESBs provide some key security capabilities. These are often business-critical. In particular, ESBs deliver security, monitoring, and mediation between features. The Enterprise Service Bus basically acts as the connective tissue between all the functionalities and features in monolithic applications.

However, it’s becoming an increasingly frustrating way to upkeep as the complexity of applications and deployments multiply. Because in a monolithic application, any changes to the system involve rebuilding and deploying a whole new version.

As more services and API’s are added to the user interface, the more costly it becomes to run your technology stack. When it comes to scaling, you then run into the problem that you’d have to scale the entire application instead of isolating the components that you’d want to scale. So in the end you’re dealing with an ever-growing “monster” written in different code, with interdependent functions and features that has minimal flexibility as you try to pivot in a fast-moving digital world.

How Microservices bring scalability to the forefront

Microservice Architecture (MSA) has sprung up as a new way for designing software applications. Microservices are now more prevalent than Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). Much like ESB, microservice architectures are made up of loosely coupled and reusable components.

The big distinction when comparing ESB vs microservices is that microservices are great for deploying on cloud platforms. Teams can code and update more effectively due their cloud-native approach. Each microservice has its own database, this provides a fine grained control over each component. The decentralized set up also ensures that there is no single point of failure (SPOF), as is the case with ESB.

Microservices also scale independently, reducing the cost associated with having to scale the entire monolithic application. Therefore, compared to ESB, with microservices you have more control and possibilities. Microservices can be independently developed, deployed and scaled up without affecting the entire system.

Microservices vs ESB: Which is the right choice

It is obvious that microservices have clear advantages over ESB, especially when it comes to cloud-based platforms. However, there is no straight answer to say that one implementation is the right choice. It ultimately depends on the requirements of your organization.

For instance, if you are already running legacy software then switching to microservices can be a slow and tedious process and then it might be better to stick with ESBs.

But when you are designing your enterprise architecture from scratch, then microservices would be the way to go. A hybrid version is also a possibility, and one that is fully supported on Yenlo’s integration-Platform-as-a-Service solution ‘Connext Platform’. For more information on how your digital transformation can take shape, get in touch with us, we’re here to help you pave the way.

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