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Microservices and web services are terms that are used in regard to software products. They break down large software products into smaller segments that are more manageable and can still talk to each other. Let’s look at key differences between microservices and web services to help you decide which is the best option.

What are microservices?

A microservice architecture is when a software application is broken down into smaller chunks instead of focusing on one whole and large application. Usually, it’s split up by business capabilities, which communicate with each other using an interface. While this could be achieved using monolithic software, the microservice architecture makes each service component its own piece of software.

An Application Programming Interface (API) is used to define inputs and outputs, which helps companies ensure each component is secure. Microservices make testing and reusing components much easier, and they can still easily talk to neighbouring software components.

A microservice is ideal for anyone looking to carry out a specific task which can be part of a larger project. The APIs within microservices offer good flexibility to users. You’ll receive support for both HTTP and HTTPS, and microservices can create connections between different message formats.

As microservices run in containers, they are a more cost-effective solution. Fewer licenses are required to run microservices and APIs have universal connective capacity, so this is generally a good option for anyone looking to save time and money. Upgrades are also quick and easy with microservices, thanks to their pluggable nature.

What are web services?

Web services are mini applications that use a network and a defined format to talk to each other. Each piece of software can receive input from another piece of software. It’s a modular architecture that is service-oriented and connects applications via web services.

These can then be used to communicate with microservices or monolithic applications, which will form a bigger application. This system works using a language and defined interface. Web services will be useful if you want to run software components that aren’t co-located. For example, from cloud to cloud or from your client to server.

Web services can offer multiple different services within a single application, which is ideal for an e-commerce site, where you can control and manage access to different services within one application. Both web services and microservices make it easy for developers to add and remove applications as needed.

With web services, you’ll find you have a flexible architecture, making upgrades quicker and easier, and you won’t disrupt the whole application while these are underway. Web services don’t support HTTPS, and messages and protocols will need to share the same format. However, one way around this is by using an iPaaS, which can help to avoid this issue with web services. Upgrades are inexpensive and easy to implement with web services due to their pluggable nature, similar to microservices.

The best option for a project

Microservices are best for software with a singular-function. Your developers will be able to work with separate parts, making it much easier to test and quicker to put everything together at the end. Teams can work separately on different components.

However, you’ll then need to use web services to get the software to talk to each other through a network, especially if it’s located in different places. Many projects require you to use both services in conjunction with each other. So the short answer is, you’ll probably need both options for your next project.

Depending on your project’s requirements, you’ll find one architecture may work better than the other. For smaller projects, which may just remain on your laptop or phone and don’t need to be connected to a network, you probably won’t need to use either of these options. Simpler and quicker projects which don’t use many graphics or complex operations can generally work without either of these solutions.

Of course, no two projects are exactly the same. If you want to make development smoother, either option will ensure your project sees the light of day. They can help to make a well-tested product that is completed within a reasonable length of time.

Where to from here

Both of these options are ideal for smaller teams of developers. Project managers can assign each microservice or web service to a smaller team. They can then work independently to perfect one part of the application. There will be no concerns about coding conflicts within the other systems using these architectures. However, web services require separate teams to work cohesively to offer common messaging and protocols for good integration into the web service.

To avoid disruption to your project, developers can add a circuit breaker to their design pattern, detecting potential service failures. You’ll find that when one microservice fails, it’s less likely to have an impact on the rest of the system.

This circuit breaker can minimise this risk further to avoid disruption to other microservices and applications. Both options also give developers the freedom to decide on the most suitable platform and language for various microservices and apps within an architecture. Almost any programming language can be used with these architectures, making it far easier to connect applications.

By taking the time to consider whether microservices or web services would work well with your next project, you set yourself up for success. Each project needs to be treated separately from the last which will help you to decide how to structure your project and choose the best design architecture.

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