Service Oriented Architecture vs Microservices Architecture

What is Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)?

​Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) which is a software structuring principle, the premise is that software systems are built around the concept of services these can be consumed by applications that can be independently be built around these services. Service providers published a service description that is available for consumers, consumers are able to interact with these using these descriptions (for example WSDL).

In a nutshell the goal of SOA is to decouple systems by allowing the service and client to evolve independently. By following proper versioning Services can provide newer capabilites for clients while supporting legacy clients to be operational and upgrade their capabilities based on their schedules. The follows are the attributes that SOA services adhere to

  • Boundaries are explicit
  • Service compatibility is based on policy
  • Services are autonomous
  • Services share schema and contract

SOA or Tiered Architecture

Microservices Architecture (MSA)

While SOA defines traits that Services need to adhere to the definition for Microservices are not well defined. Microservices are an evolution of SOA with the aim or creating modular services, the primary goal of Mircroservices are to evolve independently with a single application focus. An application can be composed of 100’s of Microservices, each driving an independent feature that allow them to be built on different platforms and deployed independently. Scalability is improved by allowing services to span multiple instances if the demand increases along with fault tolerance as a single service not loading will not cause the application to fail.

Microservices have gained in popularity with teams adopting Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery, using rapid deployment techniques an application have 100’s or Microservices can have multiple deployments during the day. This is a big shift from SOA where large scale deployments were prevalent. The downsides of Microservices are that though they can be easily scaled they do have drawbacks as an in-memory function call is always less resource intensive than out-of-process component requests.

Microservice Architecture


SOA came about to decouple monolith applications and help usage of contracts to drive application development. This brought about the use of WSDL as a service description along with communication protocols that were standardized. This allowed for client to consume the service and also evolve at their own pace. The downsides for SOA were that deployments took longer as the size of the services grew and with a larger footprint scalability had challenges. Enter Microservices which takes advantage of the Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery pipelines and also since they are feature focused can be scaled easier and also more fault tolerant.

Microservices vs SOA

See also