SOA versus Microservice Architecture

posted Nov 24, 2015, 9:12 PM by Rick Hightower   [ updated Nov 24, 2015, 9:15 PM ]

SOA vs. Microservices

Are Microservices just SOA?

It is very common for some to confuse Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Microservice Architecture. In a sense, SOA and Microservice Architecture are related in some goals and purposes.

Microservices is a refocus and refinement of some of the original goals of SOA to meet the demands of a polyglot device environment that can scale and support continuous deployments in a cloud / third generation virtualization environment.


It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential. --Bruce Lee

Since SOA was later muddled with BPEL, ESBs, SOAP, WSDL, and their ilk, it is easier to drop the SOA moniker and just focus on the parts that worked well. Keep the parts that work. Get rid of the rest.

The focus on Microservices Architecture is web technologies to provide scalability, modular, domain-drive, small, and continuously deployable cloud-based services.

Microservices Architecture is taking what perhaps started out as SOA and applying lessons learned as well as pressure to support polyglot devices, deploy more rapidly and the architecture liquidity that cloud computing and virtualization/containerization provide. You mix all that together and you can see where Microservices Architecture started. Microservices Architecture is in general less vendor driven than SOA and more needs driven by demands of application development and current cloud infrastructure.

Microservices is not SOA. In fact, it in many ways it is directly the opposite. For example SOA often embraces WSDL which is a very strongly typed and rigid way to define a service endpoint. WSDL and XML schema takes all of the X (extensible) out of XML.



A Microservices Architecture embraces JSON and tolerant readers with the idea that the interface may change a bit and it is nicer to allow some flexibility in what properties/fields make up a message. A smart end point and a dumb pipe would be the opposite end of the spectrum than something like BPEL and ESB provides or other orchestrations mechanisms for SOA. While SOA embraces services being stateless, Microservices embrace the need for state and embrace OOP fundamentals of keeping your business logic and data together.


Read the SOA manifesto, and read the wikipedia page on SOA, try to do the exact opposite and you are a good ways down the road of adopting a Microservices architecture. Shun statelessness and embrace sharding, replication, eventual consistency and service data ownership. Shun WSDL and embrace JSON. REST and HTTP calls rule the day. Streaming calls over WebSocket is done for speed. Be the web. Microservices embraces asynchronous calls and reactive programming.

Microservices” - is a powerful term. It is one you need to embrace. It is very pragmatic. It is likely that you have been doing some or all of what Microservices Architecture is already. One day Microservices will go the way of Ajax, it will be so common it will be a forgone conclusion. Microservices is about pragmatism not vendors raising barriers to competitors by creating overly complex specifications.


We need to define Microservices a little more formerly so it does not go the way of SOA and every vendor gets to form a committee and dishonor its intentions with a set of nifty shiny baubles. SOA was a huge success and a failure. A failure because the term has actually no meaning or rather so many meanings, and yet Amazon and Google’s version of SOA are a huge success. Look at successful things that we had to call SOA and those are probably more like microservices and plain web services.

Read more about Microservices:

What is Microservices Architecture?

QBit Java Micorservices lib tutorials

The Java microservice lib. QBit is a reactive programming lib for building microservices - JSON, HTTP, WebSocket, and REST. QBit uses reactive programming to build elastic REST, and WebSockets based cloud friendly, web services. SOA evolved for mobile and cloud. ServiceDiscovery, Health, reactive StatService, events, Java idiomatic reactive programming for Microservices.

Find more tutorial on QBit.

Reactive ProgrammingJava MicroservicesRick Hightower

High-speed microservices consulting firm and authors of QBit with lots of experience with Vertx - Mammatus Technology

Highly recommended consulting and training firm who specializes in microservices architecture and mobile development that are already very familiar with QBit and Vertx as well as iOS and Android - About Objects

Java Microservices Architecture

Microservice Service Discovery with Consul

Microservices Service Discovery Tutorial with Consul

Reactive Microservices

High Speed Microservices

Java Microservices Consulting

Microservices Training

Reactive Microservices Tutorial, using the Reactor

QBit is mentioned in the Restlet blog




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