Microservices vs SOA

In this modern software development world, constant growth in reliability on service-based and distributed architectural patterns is observed in order to achieve reliability, scalability, and rapid build of  web and mobile applications. And for this, the majority of bespoke software development companies prefer any one of these two most popular service-based approaches – Microservices vs SOA.

Between these two service providers, SOA is an older style which might not be appropriate for some projects that are focusing more on modern cloud-native app development but it still comes with a lot of different benefits. On the other hand, microservices are a modern enterprise architecture for which developers have to be well-equipped.

In this blog, we will go through both these services and understand the major differences between soa and microservices  to help you make a proper decision in which service to use for your project.

1. What is Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)?

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is one of the most popular cloud-based software development models that is used by software developers to break down necessary software components  into many different service modules. Each module created using a server-oriented architecture approach is more flexible and smaller in size compared to monolithic architecture applications. This is what makes it easier for the developers to work smoothly. 

Basically, service-oriented architecture is a way to create a backend of an application that not only scales the development but can also help developers quickly add new features. It is known as an outstanding styling method where everything centers around application services. In this approach, the business domain is functionally represented as a service. Besides this, in service-oriented architecture, all the business operations and enterprise services must be isolated from each other so that they can be created independently. Developers can also use Service Oriented Architecture to reuse the services in various systems or combine multiple independent services to perform any complex task. 

In addition to this, while using service-oriented architecture, there is no requirement for any programming language or framework. This is why development and platform access are universally possible.

1.1. Benefits of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)

Benefits of Service-oriented Architecture (SOA)
  • Faster time to market
  • Greater adaptability
  • Efficient Maintenance

2. What are Microservices?

A microservices architecture is widely used in the app development community as it is considered an outgrowth of SOA. This architecture enables developers to break down large-scale applications into smaller and more flexible components, employing a more precise granularity approach. Besides this, microservices architecture enables organizing each unit around highly specialized business functions.

It is another approach that can be used for developing the backend of the systems. This architecture follows the UNIX operating system paradigm known as “Do one thing, and do it well”. And this is the reason it is used by the software development teams for decoupling and modularizing the backed capabilities of any complex application. By using this approach the developer can create small services instead of creating one large service.

Besides this, this service provider heavily relies on DevOps to set microservices apart. When it comes to microservice implementation, the entire truth of the application dynamics lies in the code. This is why microservice should be stand-alone. Independent services come with the capability to offer their own communication protocol and data store. Here, the independent service  components must be lightweight as DevOps will use simple REST and HTTP while running the service.

2.1. Benefits of Microservices

Benefits of Microservices
  • Improved productivity
  • Increased scalability
  • Better resiliency
  • Optimize business functionality
  • Continuous delivery/continuous integration

Further Reading on Top Benefits of Microservices Architecture

3. Microservices vs SOA: Main Differences

3.1. Architecture

In Microservices architecture, developers create software as a collection of several different services, each with the capability to perform a single function independently. Therefore, the development team working with microservices can say that there is sharing or resources possible between two functional application services in this approach. Each service can have independent data storage units.

But on the other hand, when it comes to working with service-oriented architecture, all the services of an application are larger and can share resources with each other.

3.2. Component Sharing

When we are talking about microservices architecture, each service here is independent of the other. This means that each service present in this architecture hardly requires sharing of components. And this approach of microservices makes the services resistant to failure. Besides this, in microservices architecture, lack of component sharing enables the software developers to deploy the latest versions and scale individual services faster than in service-oriented architecture.

On the other hand, when it comes to sharing components in service-oriented architecture, the approach is very common which is why the main issue is that one service may affect other connecting services and their effectiveness.

3.3. Service Granularity

In a microservices architecture, all the apps’ infrastructure services created by the software developers are of a more granular nature. This means that in microservices, individual services excel in working with a single specific task and this is why when it comes to combining all the tasks in one application, it becomes an easy process.

While on the other hand, with SOA architecture, services are large and modular which clearly resembles them to the monolithic applications. And in this approach, each service has the capability to scale up which makes SOA focus on a broad range.

3.4. Data Storage

When it comes to data storage in a microservices architecture, every independent service has its own data storage.

On the other hand, when it comes to the SOA approach, there are groups of services that share the same database to store the application data. As services in SOA share the same database, it offers the biggest advantage in the form of reusing the shared data.

3.5. Middleware vs API Layer

The microservices architecture comes with a typical pattern that is known as an API layer. The API layer in microservices lies between service consumers and services.

But when it comes to SOA architecture, the approach comes with a messaging middleware component. The messaging middleware offers a host of additional capabilities which includes message enhancements, meditation & routing, protocol transformation, and message.

3.6. Governance

Another major difference between microservices and SOA is governance. Microservice architecture comes with an independent nature that doesn’t enable consistent data governance. As microservices have an independent nature, it offers flexibility in search service which eventually encourages greater collaboration between the teams.

While on the other hand, service-oriented architecture comes with a nature that enables the implementation of data governance that is common across all services.

3.7. Remote Services

When it comes to remote services protocol, both microservices and service-oriented architecture use different approaches. In SOA, the primary remote access protocols used are Microsoft Messaging Queuing (MSMQ), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), and Advanced Messaging Queuing Protocol (AMQP).

On the other hand, developers working on microservices architecture commonly use protocols such as Representational State Transfers (REST) and Java Messaging Service (JMS). If we compare the usage of messaging protocols between these two service providers, microservices use more homogenous services as compared to SOA.

4. SOA Vs Microservices – Which Approach is Better for Your Business?

As indicated in this blog, when choosing between the two best architectural styles for your project, the software development team needs to consider many different points. This comparison will help the developers to determine which architecture will work best to fulfill their client’s purpose.

Both service-oriented and microservices architecture are approaches that use automation to help developers speed up their processes. The modular means to break up monolithic applications into smaller and more efficient components is known as SOA architecture. On the other hand, microservices provide a more fine-grained approach with smaller components. Both of these architectures run on the cloud to enable the developers to increase the flexibility of creating and deploying software solutions. Developers get confused about which approach to use. However, comparing the above points can help make the choice and see which architecture can fulfill the business’s own unique needs.

Mohit Savaliya

Mohit Savaliya is looking after operations at TatvaSoft, and because of his technical background, he also has an understanding of Microservices architecture. He promotes his technical expertise through his bylines. He collaborates with development teams and brings out the best and trending topics in Cloud and DevOps.


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    1. Marnes

      This article gives an in-depth understanding of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Microservices. The in-depth comparison of architecture, component sharing, service granularity, data storage, middleware between these two is very helpful for developers.