12 Places Microservice Architecture Doesn’t Work

Despite their popularity, Microservices are not one-size fits all solutions for software developers. Here's why.

Microservices architecture

Microservices are like the shiny new toy of the software industry that almost everyone is talking about, especially in the backend domain. Before diving into when they might not be the best choice, let us quickly revisit what a microservice is and why it is so appealing.

What exactly is Microservices Architecture?

Microservice Architecture is a way of designing software where the application is divided into small, independent services that work together. These loosely coupled services are known as Microservices. This approach simplifies management, updates, scaling, and deployment, thereby boosting engineering productivity and fostering innovation.

Places where Microservice Architecture doesn’t fit perfectly

Forcing a microservice architecture without proper evaluation can lead to inefficiency and complications. Below are a few scenarios where Microservices might not be the best fit, along with alternative approaches that could be more appropriate:

  1. Small or Simple Applications with Homogenous Workloads: If an application is simple, has limited scope, and is not very big, using microservices can be complicated. In these situations, sticking to a single, unified system, known as a Monolithic Architecture, could be a better choice.
  2. Rapid Prototyping or Startup looking for a Quick Launch: If we are building a prototype of our app or just getting our startup off the ground, going with a Monolithic Architecture approach can save us time and hassle, avoiding the overhead of managing multiple services. It is straightforward to develop, deploy, and fix, making it perfect for smaller projects or minimum viable product (MVP).
  3. Limited Resources and Expertise: Organisations with limited technical expertise or small teams may find microservices challenging due to their complexity and operational demands. Those with smaller team size might prefer Serverless Architecture, as it offloads server management and configuration tasks to cloud providers.
  4. Cost Constraints: The distributed nature of microservices can lead to increased costs in terms of infrastructure, monitoring, and management tools. When the financial budget is limited, a Monolithic Architecture or a budget-friendly Serverless Architecture could be a smarter move.
  5. Regulatory and Compliance Constraints: Certain industries have strict regulatory and compliance requirements that might be more easily managed within a Monolithic Architecture due to its centralized nature.
  6. Network-Dependent Applications requiring Low Latency: Microservices depend a lot on network connections to talk between services, which can slow down request responses. In situations where a stable network, highly available software, and quick response times are critical, the microservices setup might cause problems. For these cases, choosing a Monolithic Architecture, where everything is bundled into one unit, could be a better option.
  7. Legacy Systems Integration: Integrating microservices with legacy systems can be challenging due to differences in technology and communication patterns. In some cases, it might be more practical to keep the legacy system as a Monolith Architecture or Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)
  8. Tightly Coupled and Highly Interdependent Components: Applications with tightly coupled components may benefit from a Monolithic, Layered, or Domain-Driven Architecture to avoid the complexities of distributed systems. It provides a straightforward way to organize code into layers with clear responsibilities, which can be easier to maintain for small to medium-sized applications. For example – Model View Controller, Model View Presenter, etc.
  9. Data-Intensive Applications: Applications that require heavy data processing and have strict transactional consistency requirements might be better served by a Monolithic Architecture if maintaining data consistency and security is important.
  10. Decentralization and Peer-to-Peer Integration: Peer to Peer (P2P) Architecture is preferable for file sharing, blockchain, and decentralized apps due to its strengths in decentralization, data privacy, resilience, and scalability, whereas client-server models, including microservices, fall short when decentralization and protection against censorship or data breaches are priorities.
  11. Applications with Data Security as a Priority: Microservices Architecture involves multiple communication points, each a potential security risk, requiring strong encryption and access controls. Proper evaluation needs to be done if we choose a software architecture that caters to our software’s data security needs.
  12. Easy Testing: Microservices allow for isolated testing of individual components, offering agility in identifying and fixing issues. However, this architecture complicates and increases the operational cost of end-to-end testing due to the distributed nature of services. This can be resolved by mocking dependency calls.

Microservices are not a universal solution

Although Microservices Architecture is hailed for its agility and modular benefits in software development, it is crucial to understand that they are not a one-size-fits-all solution for every application. For instance, Stack Overflow successfully uses a simple Monolithic Architecture because it needs to be fast and reliable, even with lots of users and complex features. WordPress, a content management system, is built on a Layered Architecture.

Choosing microservices just because they are popular, a big company uses them, or someone famous suggested them is not the best idea. Selection of the appropriate software architecture should be based on a thorough assessment of our project’s specific requirements, the size and expertise of the development team, the scalability demands of the system, and business objectives.

Poulami Mukherjee

Poulami Mukherjee is a Seasoned Software Engineer with over 6 years of experience in design and development of scalable resilient software using Java, Spring Boot, AWS and Microservices. An avid advocate for mental health and a firm believer in the power of continuous learning. Driven by the conviction that the intersection of technology and empathy can lead to transformative solutions for our interconnected world.


Poulami Mukherjee is a Seasoned Software Engineer with over 6 years of experience in design and development of scalable resilient software using Java, Spring Boot, AWS and Microservices. An avid advocate for mental health and a firm believer in the power of continuous learning. Driven by the conviction that the intersection of technology and empathy can lead to transformative solutions for our interconnected world.