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Microservices vs SOA vs API Comparison

By Real PradJan. 6, 2023, 3 p.m. Application development company
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Microservices vs. SOA vs. API

If you have been exploring deeper into the differences, pros and cons of microservices vs. API, SOA vs. microservices, and which approach you would have to use for your business, you have come to the right place. In this blog post, we will attempt to list the key differences that will prove helpful to you so that you can make an easy choice. 

SOA vs. API - What are the Differences

APIs (application programming interfaces) allow different applications to communicate with one another and transfer information. SOA which expands to service oriented architecture is an architecture design approach that provides services to components via a communication protocol over a network. So we can use APIs to implement an SOA, which is a design pattern.

What are the Differences between SOA and Microservices

Both SOA and microservices are architecture design approaches and work to break applications into several components. Whereas SOA is an older and more outdated approach, microservices are the currently popular architecture design approach. When using microservices, applications are broken into several services with each service having independent data storage, unlike SOA. 

A schematic representation of microservices and SOA architectures

Many businesses that were earlier functioning with SOA are now shifting to microservices. However, like SOA, APIs can be used to implement a microservices architecture design. 

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Advantages of Microservices over SOA

Microservices architecture works by breaking applications into services (small pieces of functionality) that can work independently and which can be leveraged across different applications. Some important differences between SOA vs. Microservices Architecture are: 

  • An SOA component may be a large one and may cater to different functions. Microservices are small, and each of them caters only to a single service.
  • SOA focuses on the reusability of services, unlike microservices architecture which focuses on separating the services.
  • In SOA, the communication between components happens via the enterprise bus messaging protocol. In a microservices architecture, APIs handle the communication.
  • If you change one part of the application in SOA, you end up updating the entire application. In a microservices architecture, you change only one service whenever required.
  • Components are shared in SOA, and this causes data dependencies. In, microservices architecture the services are decoupled with each having its own database and, therefore, having no dependencies.

Benefits of Microservices vs. SOA

Microservices have:

  • Shorter development lifecycles and faster time-to-market 
  • Scalability and agility 
  • They support DevOps processes 
  • Improved security because of easier fault isolation
  • Easier to implement good data practices and compliance
  • Better developer productivity

Microservices vs. APIs – Differences

The primary difference between microservices and API rest in the fact that whereas microservices is an approach to building a software application into smaller functionality components called services, APIs are parts of the application that helps one application communicate with another. So, APIs can be used to enable microservices ‘to talk to one another'. Both these together allow you to create effective business application packages.

 

Microservices vs. APIs – Differences

SOA vs. Microservices vs. API – Which one to Choose

APIs help to power both SOA and microservices. However, when do you choose the one that would suit your requirement? 

When to Choose APIs

You can choose APIs when you want to accelerate time-to-market. APIs function to connect applications and services, and this serves to accelerate the time-to-market. APIs can support both microservices and SOA.

Benefits of APIs:

Read our blog “How to Hire Microservices Developers from Other Countries”.

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They are:

  • Well documented
  • Can be used both inside and externally as well
  • Mobile friendly
  • Open and easy to consume
  • Make for added security and governance
  • Can be branded as separate products and sold

API can be constructed properly to fuel an organization's digital transformation. However, it is important to properly plan and implement APIs. They have to be designed to have the appropriate levels of policy and operational controls. They should be properly analyzed, monitored and governed. 

Governance implies meeting the appropriate security and compliance standards set by the industry and the organization. Developers should be well aware of this aspect. This also helps to keep your APIs stable when you change your infrastructure or even mess up other apps that are using your APIs. 

When to use SOA

It is a good idea to use SOA if your organization is not yet ready for microservices. If you are already using SOA and your organization is not ready to take on microservices, then you can continue to use it. 

The Benefits of SOA can be listed as under:

  • Helps to decouple applications
  • SOA fosters the reuse of code
  • Exposing legacy systems of processes/records as service endpoints
  • You can power them up with APIs

SOA and API are both services that depend on other applications and services. These applications and services may be managed by other developers, providers, or organizations. If changes are brought in SOAs and APIs, the dependent services have to be appropriately managed and governed. This also requires unified policy management across all the services, irrespective of the protocol used.

When to use Microservices

It is recommended that you use microservices if you want to increase your productivity. 

The Benefits of Microservices are as follows:

  • Increased developer productivity
  • Scalability is high – for development and deployment
  • It is easy to understand

Microservices can be empowered using APIs because they enable two microservices to communicate with one another. Plus, APIs also add security to the microservices mesh. Therefore, today’s businesses can see many benefits by moving to microservices that are powered by APIs.However, large organizations will require enterprise API management to see success and proper implementation.

The microservices vs SOA vs API comparison means a lot to companies as they have to resort to using the most efficient method for digital transformation and software development design.

Conclusion

You would have by now understood the basic differences in the SOA vs. microservices vs. API setup. You can make informed decisions as to how you can adopt the structures in your digital transformation project and identify use cases to use these architecture patterns.

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FAQs

As a variation of SOA or service-oriented architecture, the microservices architecture allows for the breaking down of a business application into smaller services each of which is designed to perform a single function very well. These services communicate via APIs and each service is loosely coupled with the other because each has its own database.

The business application is logically broken down into smaller functions to create the flow that in essence is a diagram of how each of these functions interacts with one another and produces the required results.

Microservices architecture allows for application mapping that works to create logical sub-applications from the original application that can run faster and have more reliability.

The main distinction between these two approaches lies in scope. Whereas SOA has an enterprise scope, microservices architecture design has an application scope.

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