Microservices vs API: What’s the Difference?

Microservices vs API: What’s the Difference

Microservices vs API concepts are central for app development and design, and each of them has its pros and cons. The point is to define the most efficient software architecture and integration framework for your application.

Which technology is more progressive? What is the relationship between API and microservices? How do they fit together in modern software development? This article will share our approach to API vs microservices discussion.

How API works

Microservice vs API used to overlap in application design. That is why it can be confusing to understand the differences.

First, we’ll cover what API is and what it is used for? API, or application programming interface, is a communication tool that helps services and applications connect. It is a set of protocols that define how two applications share and modify data.

There are two basic types of API:

  • internal (access is usually restricted to groups of people in the organization)
  • external (everyone can access the API and use it for integration)

The API framework is widely used by fintech (primarily for banking software) and social media these days (for instance, when your app needs access to Facebook data, it will use the API concept). We deal with API whenever we are shopping online and want to use integrated iPay or Google Pay apps for purchases. It is hard to imagine an advanced application without API integration.

MORE ON TOPIC: API Integration Complete Guide

How Microservices Work

Before we jump into a discussion on the benefits of microservices, we need to define the monolith architecture of software applications. The Monolith vs Microservices discussion is also one that most developers have had. But first, what is a monolith application?

Monolith is a single application that serves as one place to store everything. It means that all functional application components are placed in one area. To work with a monolith is easy, and it's more natural for app developers. But every time you add some functions to your app, the size and complexity of the whole monolith grow.

What is the solution? The most popular one is to break the monolith into microservices. This style of application architecture divides all app functions into more minor services.

What are the Benefits of Using Microservices

You may think that microservices can be problematic. To show that it’s not a problem, let's look at the advantages of microservices architecture. Here are the most important ones:

  1. Efficiently manages the use of functionality
  2. Makes apps more scalable and reliable
  3. Allows the app to deploy faster
  4. Simple to understand
  5. Has higher app security because if one of the services is corrupted, it will not affect the whole system

Microservices vs API: What is the Difference

At this point, you know how each concept works and what you can do by using microservices vs API. Let's discuss the differences between these two.

The most important thing is that API is a framework that ensures interaction with other applications. Microservices are the architecture style of applications.

Can API microservices work together? Yes, as almost every microservice has some type of API. If developers want others to use the app or its functions, they use the API for each service.

While microservices architecture is a popular way to build applications nowadays, APIs are often a medium between them. Quite often, they overlap. It can be used to expose app functions to third parties. But microservices are more than an API for a system. The whole system can have various microservices with their own APIs to communicate.

If you need to build an application with various functions, you can use microservices. If you want to integrate your software with other apps or allow others to use it, you need an API. But you will probably use both of them for the app to work efficiently.

Monolith Infrastructure vs. Microservices: Practical Approach

If microservices are an excellent solution for app development, why do many companies still use monolith architecture? Cprime Studios' DevOps specialist Sergey Rusin explains the difference and specificity of using microservices on AWS in a use case.

One of our clients uses the Amazon Lambda microservice tool. It is a serverless application where you don’t have any server for your needs with many different functions instead. Еach function is responsible for a specific action - e.g., a registration option.

Since there is no need to rent the whole server for a couple of functions, your company may significantly save money paid before for server maintenance. On the other hand, it can take longer to launch the specific function within a microservice. Instead of monolith applications where everything works in one place, projects in Lambda are dispersed over a variety of functions. For DevOps, it means that AWS microservices are harder to manage.

For example, microservice makes bug detecting way harder. If the app has 200 functions, it is like having 200 servers instead. When anything happens, the DevOps engineer needs to check each one to find an error - without logs and extra information. It takes much more time - but is more reasonable economically.

MORE ON TOPIC: What Is DevOps Pipeline | What's Its Difference from DevOps Lifecycle

Conclusion

The Microservices vs API discussion is quite popular. Both concepts can be used to build efficient applications. To choose which one is more efficient for your application, you need to define your goals and understand how you can help achieve them.

If you need help in developing infrastructure using microservices or API connection, contact Cprime Studios specialists.