Architecture & Design

SOA vs Microservices

If you are employed in the IT sector, you must be aware of the debate between Service Oriented Architecture or SOA vs. Microservices. The rise in popularity for Microservices technologies and SOA and its implementation in recent years has made them both very important in software design development. Both methods have some similarities and may sound very similar, and to some level, they are. However, with their similarities, some key differences between the two are what set them apart. 

What is Microservice?

Microservice is a modern version of SOA that mainly organizes an application into a collection of loosely coupled services that is modeled around a business domain. When the array of the services are executed, it develops into a complete application. Microservice focuses on breaking down the application into single-function modules with proper interfaces. 

Microservice architecture is a development method that builds an application as a collection of loosely coupled services made for a business domain. Microservice is an independent business functionality that has clear interfaces with its internal components applied to a layered architecture. 

All services remain independent of technologies and any service can be created using different technologies i.e - languages, operating systems, etc. There is no dependability for any particular technology stack for any service. There are many ways to define what microservice is. Some of the things that are in a microservice are:

  • Services in a microservice architecture contain processes that primarily communicate over a network to achieve a goal using HTTP protocols. 
  • Services can be applied through different programming languages, hardware, and software environments, depending on the business domain. 
  • Services are mainly organized based on the capabilities of the business. 
  • Services are message enabled, independently deployable, and small in size. 

While the majority of the discussion about microservices focuses on the characteristics and what microservice contains, its value can be identified through the organizational benefits of microservice: 

  • It is easier to update code in microservices.
  • It allows teams to use separate stacks for different components. 
  • Components can be upscaled separately, in turn reducing the waste and cost of having to scale entire applications due to a single component bearing too much load.

Features of Microservices

Some of the features of Microservices are:

  • The services in microservices are loosely coupled. 
  • It is built for the business domain. 
  • It is easy to use technologies with multiple features in the application. 
  • It is built according to the capabilities of the business. 
  • Microservices are monitored and scaled independently. 
  • It makes the application easier to understand and work with. 
  • Microservices can develop any new feature and discard it as well. 
  • Microservices treat applications as products instead of projects that they are responsible for. 
  • They are independent components that are replaceable and upgradable.  

What is SOA?

SOA stands for Service-Oriented Architecture; it is a method used in computer software design. This method provides services to other components and makes them reusable by application components. It is done through a communication protocol over a network that can quickly integrate into new applications without having to spend time profoundly integrating with each application every time. 

In an SOA, each service has two components: a service consumer that requests a service and a service provider that consumes the request and returns the result.

The idea of service orientation is to be independent of any product, vendor, or technology. SOA primarily makes it easier for components of the software over multiple networks to work with one another. In an SOA, every service contains code and combined data necessary to perform functions that can be accessed remotely and update when required, such as calculating a monthly loan payment or pulling a credit card statement online. SOA contains four properties that define it:

  • It is self-contained. 
  • It is a black box for the consumers; this means that the consumer does not know the service’s inner workings. 
  • It consists of other underlying services. 
  • It uses the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) for communication
  • It represents a business activity with a detailed outcome.  

SOA is also related to the idea of Application Programming Interface, also known as API. It is an interface between different parts of the computer program that simplifies the software’s execution and maintenance. API can be seen as a service, and SOA is the architecture that allows it to run. 

Features of SOA 

The features of SOA are:

  • SOA uses multiple interfaces to solve problems in large systems. 
  • It communicates with customers and suppliers through XML. 
  • Since SOA primarily reuses the services, the cost for software development and management is low. 
  • SOA can integrate into new applications without incorporating every time with a communication protocol over a network. 
  • SOA can perform functions that can be accessed remotely and updated whenever needed. 

SOA vs. Microservices: What’s the Difference?

Component Sharing 

Component sharing is one of the essential principles of SOA. On the one hand, SOA has increased component sharing, whereas Microservices try to minimize component sharing through the bound context. Bound context is the organizing of data into a single unit with little dependencies. SOA relies on various services to execute a request. Therefore systems built on SOA are slower than Microservices. 


Since Microservices develop their services independently with a separate communication protocol, the chances of a system failure are doubtful due to its communication protocol. With SOA, each service shares a standard communication structure known as the Enterprise Service Bus or ESB. If there is a failure in the ESB, and even if a single service is slowed down, the entire system can be affected. 

Easy Deployment

As microservice architectures use smaller and loosely coupled services so they are easy to deploy to any environment. Whereas SOA keeps services coupled together, and that leads to the redeployment of the entire application whenever a service is added or any change in existing service. 


When it comes to scalability, Microservices offers great scalability because of its independent smaller service design. It gives the flexibility to scale any specific service or set of services that remain high in demand. Whereas, scalability is a bit challenging in SOA.


SOA simplifies the development and makes it easier for services to integrate into new applications without integrating with every application. SOA also has increased component sharing. However, this makes SOAs operate at a slower speed than microservices that have minimized sharing. 

Data Storage

When it comes to data storage, Microservices have their own independent data storage, and SOA shares their data storage between services. Sharing the same data storage allows SOA to reuse the transmitted data and deploy the same data between business units. However, this results in the interdependence between services. 

SOA vs. Microservices: Which One is Better?

Both methods have their benefits in implementing them, which begs the question, which one is better for you? Usually, it depends on the scale of the application environment and how diverse it is. More extensive and more varied backgrounds are ideal for SOA, while smaller and less varied environments are ideal for Microservices. 

SOA is an architecture method that is ideal for large and complicated business applications. Therefore, it is more suited for environments that need integration with a diverse range of applications. On the other hand, microservice is ideal for smaller business applications, making it perfect for smaller environments like web and mobile applications. It is less complex and easy to develop applications.

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Tilak S.

Technology freak, Open Source lover. Someone trying to understand many things. Wants to make a difference. Life liver and Peripatetic.

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