The terms Microservices and Web Services have been used extensively in recent years. Both are incredibly important for web development and, considering the way they are used, it’s almost as if the two terms are interchangeably, although in practice they are different technologies.
To better understand the difference between microservices and web services, let’s recall some important concepts and clarify a few things.
Microservices, also known as microservices architecture, is an architectural style that structures a solution as a collection of tightly coupled services that implement business capabilities.
The microservices architecture divides large monolithic applications with complex, massive internal architectures into smaller, scalable applications independently. Each microservice is small & less complex to deploy, update, and develop.
The microservice architecture enables continuous delivery and deployment of complex and large applications.
Because each microservice can be deployed independently, developers should not coordinate the deployment of local changes specific to their service. Updates and new features can be deployed faster and easier, making continuous deployment possible where it was not available previously.
Sizing is often the weak point of monolithic applications, preventing them from responding effectively to the needs of the business. Microservices are a way of isolating sometimes saturated functions and of constructing them horizontally. Organizations can also deploy only the number of instances they need in each department, leveraging the materials that best meet the resource needs of each department.
The microservice architecture breaks down what would otherwise be a heavy monolithic application into a set of manageable services whose respective boundaries are well defined in the form of RPCs or message-based APIs. With such a level of modularity, individual services can be developed more quickly and are much easier to understand and maintain.
The microservices architecture allows each service to be developed independently by a dedicated team.
Developers are no longer required to use the potentially obsolete technologies that existed when launching a new project. The relatively small size of the services also allows developers to rewrite old services using newer and more relevant technologies.
A web service is a standardized medium for communication between client and server applications on the World Wide Web. This is a software module designed to perform certain tasks.
For example, Amazon offers a web service providing prices for selling products online via Amazon.com. The front end or the presentation layer may be in .Net or Java, but these two programming languages will have the potential to communicate with the web service.
The major element of a web service is the data transferred between the client and the server. This data is in XML. XML is the counterpart of HTML. To put it simply, it can be described as an intermediate language understood by most programming languages. Thus, applications communicate with each other in XML.
To send XML data between applications, web services use SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). The data sent from the web service to the application is called SOAP messages. It is simply a document in XML format.
The use of web services brings several benefits, both technological as well as business specific. The following are the most relevant:
Developing with web services is faster because systems are not completely built from scratch and new features are easily added. The time taken to deploy systems using web services is shorter and is a good choice for custom software development.
Since web service operation requires only XML/JSON technology and HTTP protocols, communication between systems and applications is greatly simplified. With a web service, it is possible to exchange information between two systems, without having to collect detailed information about the operation of each system. Web services also allow you to connect any type of system, regardless of the platforms and programming languages used.
Using web services, you don’t need to build custom applications for data integration, which can be quite expensive. Web services take advantage of the organization’s existing web infrastructure and protocols, thus requiring little investment.
A web service can be used across multiple platforms for different business purposes. Web service code is written once and can be used time and again by different applications.
Web service prevents you from communicating directly with the database. Thus, the security of the system providing the data is safeguarded.
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