Doing a simple internet search yields several
millions of hits for the inventory
system keys. If you are tasked to establish an inventory
system for your company. This deceptively simple task could take a downturn for
the worst if not equipped with the prior knowledge. With simply a vast number
of selections, businesses often succumb to a state that is known as choice
paralysis. During which, a decision maker from the business is overwhelmed to
make a choice given the pressure, self-imposed or otherwise, of making the
optimum choice. So, how exactly do we pick the inventory system that fits our
business? Well, the answer can be summarized into two words. However, it might
be disheartening for you to find out that those two words are it depends.
Inventory System Architecture
If you are in engineering or have a background
in systems then you know just how crucial the architecture design of the
inventory system, or any system for that matter, is. There are a few aspects by
which each inventory system differs and they can have massive consequences to
the end product. If you are not technically inclined, then this could be one of
the contributing factors for your choice paralysis. In my personal experience,
choice paralysis starts by not having enough knowledge about the choices that
are available to you.
The first design choice in architecture that
you want to keep an eye on is if they use a microservices-based architecture or
a monolithic architecture. To the layman, a microservice is simply a fancy way
of saying a component of the system packaged in smaller iterations. So, which
architecture should you lean to? As always, the answer is it depends but we do
have some simple rules to help you decide which one is better for your
The Argument for a Monolithic
Monolithic systems have been the norm until
only a few years ago. In terms of technological advancement and stability, this
is quite a short amount of time. What this means is that this model has been
tried and tested and still probably dominates a lot of software spheres in the
computing world today.
The reason this architectural design became so
prevalent in the first place is because of it’s sheer simplicity. The way the
software system is structured is by having one or more system launch points
spread across multiple software modules. But, what makes the system considered
as monolithic is having a singular database in the middle of the system. This
is not to say that the database cannot be split into distributed systems. What
is consistent is that the different modules that rely on the central database
only know to access the database on that single point.
As was mentioned, the main gain of a
monolithic architecture is its simplicity. On the standpoint of the business
owner, he will have less points of entry to worry about in terms of security
which is a direct benefit from its simplicity. The entire implementation
process is also a breeze compared to the microservice architecture. This is
because there are only so few components that need to be installed. Finally,
monolithic architecture requires less effort from software engineers, thus, the
final product should cost significantly less.
Inventory systems based on the microservice
architecture are probably considered the modern alternative to its counterpart.
In a microservice architecture, functions are divided into multiple services.
These services implement a feature, or even as small as a function. Whatever it
does, it tries to do really well.
The Argument for a Microservice
Based Inventory System
The main advantage of choosing a microservice
architecture based inventory system is its scalability. Business owners, by
instinct, always look towards scaling at every turn. This is simply part of the
merchant’s DNA. The reason why scaling is easy with microservices is because
each microservice can be replicated so as to lessen the load for each one.
Management of these tasks, or the microservice taskmaster if you will, is
called the load balancer which is a microservice in itself. This is a common
microservice pattern that is familiar to every software engineer worth his
Because the microservice architecture is the
more recent offering of the computing world, it can be seen that almost every
new tech update is geared towards improving the model. This is another
advantage of using the microservice architecture. If you were worried about
working with an architecture based on overdue code, you can rest assured that
somewhere down the line any improvements would have been taken care of.
Finally, because microservices are miniature
compared to monolithic systems, it is so much easier to upgrade and maintain
from a software standpoint. Imagine having a simple microservice that does a
simple function. It should be apparent that it can do that function really
Where the microservice architecture could be
lacking is in terms of complexity. When microservices were first introduced in
the computing world, the hold up was if they were still going to be able to
take advantage of the database systems that they are all too familiar with.
Databases, despite all its faults, are an integral part of the business and any
efforts to tamper with the tried and tested software fixture might be met with
So, which architecture should you choose? To
answer that question, you probably end up simplifying the question into two
simpler ones. The first one is how ready your infrastructure is and the second
one is what your budget is. If you have a tight budget, you will probably end
up with a monolithic architecture. And if you have limited infrastructure, you
might want to lean towards a microservice based architecture.
Rating an Inventory System:
As was discussed, there are several factors to
consider to ensure that you pick the optimal inventory system for your
business. You might have already figured out that there is no fool proof rule
to make sure that the system fits your b
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