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Monoliths vs Microservices is missing the point - start with team cognitive load - SEACON - 12 November 2019

  • HereEast Innovation Centre The Plexal Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 3BS United Kingdom (map)

A talk at the SEACON conference - November 12th:

Monoliths vs Microservices is missing the point - start with team cognitive load by Matthew Skelton & Manuel Pais, authors of “Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow”

Matthew Skelton

Matthew Skelton

Manuel Pais

Manuel Pais

Topics: orgdesign, team topologies, teams, microservices, monoliths, cognition, cognitive load, team dynamics

Short Description:

The “monoliths vs microservices” debate often focuses on technological aspects, ignoring strategy and team dynamics. Instead of technology, smart-thinking organizations are beginning with team cognitive load as the guiding principle for modern software. In this talk we explain how and why.


The debate on monoliths vs microservices as architectural patterns for modern software systems usually focuses on technological aspects, missing crucial details around organizational strategy and team dynamics.  

Should we start with a monolith and extract microservices or start with microservices? How many microservices is the right number? These kinds of questions indicate a confusion that is made worse by the perceived need to adopt lots of new technology in order to make microservices work.

The false dichotomy between monoliths and microservices helps no-one. Instead, switched-on organizations start with the team cognitive load required to build and run a part of the software system. If a team is not able to fully understand the details of a service or subsystem, there is little chance of the team being able to own and support it. 

The resulting team-sized services are by definition suitable in size and complexity for a single team to own, develop, and run. No longer do we care how many lines of code there are in a single service or whether it is a “monolith”: what we care about is that a team can own and run the software effectively. 

Using team cognitive load as the guiding principle - assessed by the team via measures such as supportability, deployability, testability, operability, prioritization difficulties and domain complexity - organizations can optimize for sustainable ownership and evolution of software systems.

This talk draws on research and case studies from the book Team Topologies by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais (IT Revolution Press, 2019) together with first-hand consulting experience from the authors with organizations around the world. 

Use our link to get £50 off the ticket price:

See the Team Topologies book by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais to learn more about the subject: