Microservices vs SOA Architecture: What’s the Difference?

Organizations must consider the size and complexity of the application, development speed, existing technology infrastructure, the level of autonomy and scalability required, and the organization's culture to select the right architecture for the application.
microservices vs soa

Microservices vs SOA architecture is an important discussion in the software development space, as both technologies are commonly used for building modern applications. These approaches focus on breaking down large units of code into smaller units to offer the required flexibility, scalability, and high availability of software systems. This blog takes you through the microservices vs service oriented architecture debate to help you to choose the right architecture for your software development projects.

What are Microservices?

Before stepping into the microservices vs SOA architecture discussion, it is important to understand how each architecture works. Microservices is a popular architectural approach wherein users build an application as a collection of loosely coupled and independently deployable services. In this model, each service will perform a specific business functionality.

By breaking a large piece of code into smaller modular services, users can develop, scale, and deploy each service independently and thereby enjoy greater flexibility and agility in software development. When it comes to structural style, microservices is a variant of SOA architecture, extending the technology towards a more fine-grained approach. 

For instance, consider a social media application built using microservices. You can create a service to handle user profiles, another to handle posts, and one more for messaging services. Notifications can be handled by another independent service. This way, you can create a service for each business functionality.

The advantage here is that when there is a sudden spike in posts, you can simply scale the service that manages posts while keeping other services unaltered. While it optimizes resources, it also helps in easy management of operations.

microservices architecture social media app diagram

Microservices Architecture

Here are the core components of microservices architecture:

  • Microservices: Microservices are the foundational building blocks of this architecture. Each small and independently deployable service encapsulates business logic and data to perform a specific business function.
    • Central Services: These services are responsible for applying business rules, logic, and business data persistence.
    • Composite Services: These services group several services to perform a task or aggregate data.
  • Service Communication: It orchestrates complex business processes across distributed services. Services communicate using well-defined APIs, HTTP/REST protocols, and tools like Kafka and RabbitMQ.
  • Service Discovery: As microservices are deployed dynamically, teams assign dynamic IP addresses to them. You need a service discovery mechanism to identify and invoke a service. Eureka, Consul, and Zookeeper are service discovery tools that help teams manage registration, discovery, invocation services, and load balancing tasks.
  • API Gateway: Microservices communicate with each other and third-party tools using well-defined APIs. An API Gateway is a central entry point that provides a unified interface for client apps to access microservices. It also manages tasks such as routing, authentication, and authorization of services.
  • Distributed Data Management: To manage NoSQL databases, relational databases, or other data storage solutions, developers use techniques such as Command Query Responsibility Segregation (CQRS), database per service, and event sourcing.
  • Containerization and Orchestration: Microservices architecture leverages containerization technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes to provide lightweight and portable runtime environments for microservices and orchestrate the development, deployment, and management of containerized applications.
microservices architecture components image:
Central Services
Composite Services:
Service Communication
Service Discovery
API Gateway
Distributed Data Management
Containerization and Orchestration

Other important components exist that cannot be ignored. Organizations implement CI/CD practices to manage the development lifecycle of microservices. Monitoring and observability tools help in gaining critical insights into the health, performance and behavior of microservices. Security is a vital component of microservices architecture. Teams incorporate appropriate security measures to protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access.

Benefits of Microservices Architecture

When it comes to microservices vs SOA architecture, both technologies come with their own pros and cons. Here are some of the benefits of microservices architecture:


A major benefit of microservices architecture is that it allows you to scale each service independently. It means you don’t need to scale the entire system but automatically scale specific services on demand. It also optimizes costs.

Fault Isolation

As each service operates independently and is not dependent on other services, failure in one service is less likely to affect other services. It removes the risk of system-wide failures, improving system resilience. 

Flexibility and Agility

Microservices account for greater flexibility and agility in software development. Since services are decoupled, teams can work on them independently. This means shorter development cycles and easy updating mechanisms. Organizations can quickly adapt new technologies on the go without impacting the entire system and stay relevant in the market. This is a key aspect that keeps it ahead in the microservices vs service-oriented architecture debate.

call to action to read the blog microservices benefits

Features of Microservices Architecture

Here are a few key features of a microservices architecture that give it an edge in the Microservices vs service oriented architecture discussion:

Loose Coupling

In Microservices architecture, a key feature is the loosely coupled design, where each service operates independently and communicates with other services via well-defined APIs. With reduced dependencies between services, it is easy to develop, deploy, and manage an application.

Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)

Microservices architecture often employs continuous integration and continuous deployment practices, which allow teams to perform automatic testing, integration, and deployment of independent services. This approach facilitates faster delivery of code that is better and more reliable.


Microservices architecture is designed with modularity in mind. In this approach, teams break large applications into smaller, manageable components. As each service focuses on a specific business functionality, it becomes easy to understand the code, develop and maintain it. Each service can be scaled independently, updated, and reused across different applications by different teams.

Read our blog Microservices best practices, to take the next step in your software development journey

What is Service-oriented Architecture (SOA)?

Microservices vs SOA architecture gets interesting as you understand how both architectures are designed. Service-oriented architecture is a popular approach to building software systems with services as fundamental building blocks. Teams build services as well-defined, self-contained functional units that can be accessed across various platforms and apps. These services can be reused and built using standardized service interfaces. 

To understand the microservices vs service oriented architecture, consider an example of an e-commerce software application which was built as a single monolithic architecture earlier. Teams can now use SOA and break each functionality into a different service like product catalog, order management, payment processing, and user authentication. These services work as a single, complete e-commerce system while not being dependent on one or more services.

SOA Key Components

Here are the key components of the SOA architecture:

  1. Services
    1. Service Interface: Each service in SOA has a well-defined interface that includes parameters, methods, and data types. This interface specifies how other components interact with it.
    2. Service Implementation: The service implementation is written using any programming language or technology and contains the actual logic and functionality of the service.
  2. Service Consumer: A service consumer is an application or a component that consumes or utilizes services of the service to fulfill a business requirement via APIs and invoking methods and exchange data.
  3. Service Registry: The service registry is a central repository that maintains a catalog of all the services of a system. This registry provides service discovery and allows clients to locate and access a service on-demand.
  4. Service Broker: A service broker is an optional component that acts as an intermediary between services and service consumers, handling routing requests, service invocations, and security policies.
SOA (service oriented architecture) Key Components image: 
Service Interface
Service Implementation
Service Consumer
Service Registry
Service Broker

Benefits of SOA Architecture

Here are some of the key benefits that support SOA in the microservices vs SOA architecture discussion:


SOA architecture focuses on creating reusable services that can be leveraged by various applications and multiple business processes. This approach brings faster time to market, reduces redundancy, and improves the efficiency of software development.


With independent services that come with well-defined interfaces, SOA architecture facilitates interoperability between heterogeneous technologies, systems, and networks. As services use standardized protocols to communicate with each other, SOA enables seamless integration between disparate systems within and outside the organization as well.

Adaptability to Change

Services of an SOA architecture use loosely coupled components such that they can be easily replaced or modified independently without disrupting the entire system. It means businesses can proactively monitor market trends and adapt to new technologies and trends dynamically to stay relevant in the market.

Features of SOA Architecture

Here are some of the key features of SOA that distinguish it in the microservices vs SOA architecture:

XML Schema

SOA architecture uses an eXtensible Markup Language (XML) scheme to define data types and the structure of messages exchanged between services. The best thing about XML is that it offers a platform-agnostic format for representing data. As such, teams can create interoperable messaging systems between distributed systems.

Message Monitoring

SOA architecture facilitates the use of monitoring tools and techniques to track message flows between services. Using the message monitoring features, teams can detect errors and performance issues, and monitor service interactions while complying with service level agreements (SLAs).

Service Lifecycle Management

Right from design and development to deployment, monitoring, and retirement, SOA involves managing the entire lifecycle of a service. It covers all activities such as service specification, implementation, testing, versioning, governance, etc., to ensure that services meet business requirements and also comply with regulations while maintaining quality throughout the lifecycle.

Microservices vs SOA Architecture

Microservices and SOA architectures share a few common principles but differ in terms of architectural style, communication protocols, scalability, deployment, and governing models. While they look similar in multiple aspects, there are certain differences as well. Here are a few of them.

Microservices vs soa Architecture: Architecture

When it comes to microservices vs service oriented architecture, microservices uses the structural style of SOA. However, the difference lies in the size and scope of services. Microservices architecture decomposes an application into smaller and independently deployable services. Each service performs a specific business functionality and is owned by a small, autonomous team that handles it throughout the entire lifecycle of the service.

SOA architecture organizes an application into loosely coupled and reusable services,each performing distinct business functionality. However, services in SOA are larger in terms of scope and handle multiple functions. In contrast, microservices are specific to a single business function. Overall, microservices have an application scope, whereas SOA has an enterprise scope.

Microservices vs soa Architecture: Protocols and Communication

Microservices uses lightweight protocols such as HTTP / REST for communication between services. It also uses messaging queues. Communication between services is mostly asynchronous, but you can also employ synchronous patterns.

SOA uses heavyweight protocols, such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), for communication between services. It uses synchronous communication patterns, but it also supports asynchronous communication.  

Microservices vs soa Architecture: Data Storage

Microservices focuses on decentralized data management wherein each service is responsible for its data storage needs. Each service can have its own database based on specific requirements.

On the other hand, services in an SOA architecture share data stores or centralized databases, resulting in tighter coupling between services. As SOA involves data sharing and integration practices, dependencies on shared data models might arise. 

Microservices vs soa Architecture: Scalability

When it comes to scalability, microservices have an edge over SOA architecture. Microservices allows granular scalability, which means teams can scale each service independently on demand without touching other system components. It also supports horizontal scaling, allowing teams to deploy multiple instances of services across distributed networks and environments.

SOA architecture also allows teams to scale each service independently based on requirements. However, SOA environments normally implement vertical scaling by adding resources to existing server instances.

Read the blog Vertical vs Horizontal Scaling to learn the differences.

Microservices vs soa Architecture: Deployment

Microservices architecture fully leverages DevOps to implement continuous deployment wherein services are rapidly deployed independently. Organizations use DevOps tools (containerization tools) such as Docker and Kubernetes for deployment and management of services. 

On the other hand, SOA architecture uses monolithic practices to some extent, wherein services are deployed as a part of middleware platforms or large applications. As such, updates and deployments are less frequent and are more tightly controlled compared to microservices architecture. 

Microservices vs soa Architecture: Coupling

The focus of microservices architecture is on loose coupling between services so that they can be managed independently without impacting other services. Services are highly cohesive. They are designed to communicate effectively using well-defined APIs.

While SOA architecture emphasizes loose coupling between services, sharing data models and relying on centralized components leads to tight coupling at times. To overcome this disadvantage, organizations should focus on dependency management and versioning.

Microservices vs soa Architecture: Governance

In a microservices architecture, governance focuses on defining policies, standards, and practices for developing, deploying, and managing services. Organizations prefer decentralized governance models such that each team can have autonomy over their services.

On the other hand, the governance focus in an SOA architecture is more centralized. The emphasis is on the design, usage, and management of a service. Formal governance bodies and processes can be involved to ensure compliance with architectural standards and guidelines.

You can also read our blog, Microservices vs Monolith to make an informed decision.

Microservices vs SOA Architecture Summary Table

Microservices vs SOA MicroservicesSOA Architecture
ArchitectureBreaks apps into small, independently deployable services to provide a modular approach to software developmentOrganizes software systems into reusable services that encapsulate business functionalities
DecouplingCentralized and coarse-grained components are larger compared to microservicesCan lead to tight coupling as monolithic deployment and management practices are involved.
GranularityFine-grainedCentralized and coarse-grained, components are larger compared to microservices
CommunicationMostly asynchronous, RESTful, no data sharingMessage-oriented, synchronous, uses shared data
Data ManagementEach service has a separate database and is distributed and decentralized in data management.Centralized and shared data database
ScalabilityOffers greater scalability, flexibility, and agility in development and deploymentOffers interoperability, adaptability to change, and reusability
DeploymentEach service can be deployed independentlyOften, an entire application is deployed
Technology StackFull-stack (front-end and backend)The focus is on specific layers (eg; Business logic)
Responsibility of ServicesEach service is responsible for a single taskEach service handles multiple business tasks
Use CasesEnables granular scalability and hence is suitable for DevOps and Cloud-native environmentsSuits for integrating heterogeneous systems and infrastructure that support long-term business requirements.
ComplexityRequires robust service communication and management for service discovery, distributed data management, and fault. Complexity in managing more piecesOffers greater control but less flexibility
Call to action with a developer and the following text: Partner with our LATAM developers for your software architecture needs. Whether it's microservices or SOA, we've got you covered.

Conclusion of Microservices vs SOA Architecture

Choosing the right architecture for building software is important for businesses of all sizes, which is where the discussion on Microservices vs service oriented architecture matters. Developers use both architectures prominently, and choosing one boils down to the business’s needs and priorities.

Organizations should consider the size and complexity of the application, development speed, existing technology infrastructure, the level of autonomy and scalability required, and the organization’s culture to select the right architecture for the application.

If interoperability and reusability are the main requirements, SOA fits it right there. It suits enterprises that deal with large and complex projects. On the other hand, microservices architecture fits well with organizations that prioritize speed, agility, flexibility, and continuous delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Microservices vs SOA architecture become Microservices and SOA? How about integrating both architectures?

Yes, organizations can use both architectures in a development project. For instance, organizations can run legacy apps on the SOA architecture while moving new features or components into the microservices architecture. 

Microservices vs SOA architecture: Which one better suits modern cloud-native environments?

Microservices has an edge over SOA when it comes to modern cloud-native environments owing to the agility, scalability, and autonomy that it offers. It allows teams to rapidly develop, deploy, and manage individual services that suit dynamic and elastic cloud environments.

How do both architectures handle transactional data consistency and integrity across distributed systems?

Microservices use patterns like Event Sourcing and Saga to enable compensating actions and eventual consistency.

However, they also introduce complexity in managing distributed transactions. SOA relies on centralized data stores and distributed transaction management systems, which reduce complexities but can introduce challenges in terms of performance and scaling compared to microservices.

Microservices vs SOA: How do both technologies deal with fault tolerance and resilience?

In microservices architecture, failure in one service does not cascade to other services, resulting in overall system resilience. Each service uses its own resilience patterns, such as retries and circuit breakers to handle failures. As SOA relies on centralized fault tolerance mechanisms, it can lead to a single point of failure at times.


to our newsletter

Table of Contents

We Make
DevOps Easier

From building robust applications to staff augmentation

We provide cost-effective solutions tailored to your needs. Ready to elevate your IT game?

Contact us

Work with us now!

You are all set!
A Sales Representative will contact you within the next couple of hours.
If you have some spare seconds, please answer the following question