What is Microkernel Architecture?

Many third-party applications, in view of software architecture best practices, make avail software packages as downloadable plug-ins or versions. It is to this particular type, that the Microkernel Architecture is most suited as a result of which it is also called the plug-in architecture pattern. 

With this style, enterprise application development services can add pluggable features to an erstwhile version of the software providing for extensibility. The architecture is formulated of two components, with one part dedicated to the core system and the other to the plug-ins. Minimalism is followed while designing the core of the architecture, that stores just the right proportion of components to render the system effective. 

Microkernel Architecture

The most relatable example of the Microkernel Architecture would be any internet browser. You download a version of the application, that is essentially a software, and depending upon the missing functionalities, download and add plug-ins. Enterprise software development services rely on this pattern for designing large scale, complex applications as well. An example of such a business application could be a software for processing insurance claims. 


  • This design has proven its worth as one being highly flexible. Operational possibilities arising from the capability of plug-ins make reacting to such changes in near real-time critical to sustenance. Such changes can be dealt with in isolation with the core system regaining its stable state, for the most part, therefore requiring less developmental updates over time.
  • An enterprise software development company could face a downtime issue at the time of deployment but that can be minimized or altogether avoided by adding plug-in modules to the core dynamically. 
  • A software development company could test plug-in prototypes in isolation and see for performance issues without affecting the core of the architecture. 
  • Microkernel Architecture is most appreciated for maintaining high-performance applications as the software can be customized to include only those capabilities that are needed the most. 

Potential Drawbacks 

  • Apps such as those conceptualized by enterprise mobile app development services, have a non-negotiable scope to scale. However, the Microkernel Architecture is grounded on designs of the product and naturally suited to apps that are smaller in size. 
  • An enterprise app development company could find the Microkernel pattern rather hard to execute due to the vast number of plug-ins compatible with the core. This calls for drawing out governance contracts, updating plug-in regitaries and so many formalities that the implementation becomes a challenge. 

Ideal For

Microkernel Architecture is best suited for workflow applications in addition to those that need job scheduling. As pointed above, like a web browser, any application that you want to release with just the right amount of specs but want to leave room that can be filled in by installing additional plug-ins can be built with this design pattern. 


Yaniv Levy

Yaniv Levy, Entrepreneur, visioner & technology passionate with over 20 years on vast experience as a Senior Software Engineer and a Software Architect.

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