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Matthew Skelton - Software Delivery Consultant and Author

Manuel Pais - DevOps and Continuous Delivery Consultant


Talk - Monoliths vs Microservices is missing the point - start with team cognitive load

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.


Bio - Matthew Skelton


Matthew Skelton has been building, deploying, and operating commercial software systems since 1998. Head of Consulting at Conflux (, he specialises in Continuous Delivery and operability for software in manufacturing, ecommerce, and online services, including cloud, IoT, and embedded software.


Matthew curates the well-known DevOps team topologies patterns at and is co-author of the books Continuous Delivery with Windows and .NET (O’Reilly, 2016) and Team Guide to Software Operability (Skelton Thatcher Publications, 2016). He is also co-founder at Skelton Thatcher Publications (, a specialist publisher of techniques for software teams.


Matthew founded and leads the 2300-member London Continuous Delivery meetup group (, and instigated the first conference in Europe dedicated to Continuous Delivery, PIPELINE Conference ( He also leads the CodeMill digital skills initiative in the North of England (, and is a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Bio - Manuel Pais


Manuel Pais is an independent IT consultant and trainer, focused on team interactions, Continuous Delivery practices and accelerating the flow of work. Manuel is co-author of the book "Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow" (IT Revolution Press, 2019) (more info at


Manuel has worked with small to large organizations in finance, legal, manufacturing, and software houses, improving their software delivery approach and their metrics on quality, speed and operability. Manuel helps organizations adopt better practices by re-thinking their approach to software delivery, operations and support via strategic assessments, practical workshops, and coaching.


Also InfoQ lead editor for DevOps and co-curator of the widely cited DevOps Topologies ( Manuel started the 3000-member DevOps Lisbon meetup and helps organize the yearly DevOpsDays Portugal conference. Answers by @manupaisable on Twitter and Medium.

Gabrielle and Tim
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