software development

LAMP vs. MEAN – Which Stack Is Right For Your Business?

Sean
May 30th, 2019
5 MINUTE READ

Picture your dream home. What does it look like? What features and amenities does it have? Pristine bay windows that flood every room with natural light? Spacious marble countertops? A rustic 19th-century fireplace?

Whatever it may be, I’m willing to bet your mind did not jump to your perfect home’s foundation. You didn’t fantasize about the material of the walls, or the structural composition, or the type of wood, concrete, and brick used to construct it. If you did, you’re probably an engineer (and that’s great, so are we!).

When businesses approach Codal, they often have a clear idea of what features, functionality, and aesthetic their new web application should have, but not the foundational tech stack that’s needed to support it.

And that’s a key decision to make! Any building—dream house or otherwise—can’t exist without careful structural planning and well-chosen materials. The same is true for web applications.

So as a software development agency with more than a few web apps under our belt, we put together a quick primer on two of the most popular web application tech stacks out there: LAMP and MEAN.

Why Just LAMP & MEAN?

Both LAMP and MEAN are full tech stacks that describe four separate technologies.

LAMP is an acronym for:

Linux (the server operating system)
Apache (server)
MySQL (data)
PHP (code)

And MEAN consists of:

MongoDB (data)
Express.js (server-side, or the back-end framework)
Angular.js (client-side, of the front-end framework)
Node.js (server-side environment)

Each of these technologies can be swapped out for different ones, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Even LAMP and MEAN come with their own variations. To overview every possible tech stack would be impossible, so we’ve narrowed the scope to just two of the most popular.

To compare the two, I’ve gone through a few important criteria companies should be weighing when determining a tech stack. Some businesses may prioritize one or two over the others, but all of them are good to know when you pull the trigger on a tech stack.

Available Support

The LAMP tech stack has been around for years, meaning it’s easy to find developers who know it, resources to support it, and add-ons to optimize it for your specific application. While you’ll find a less comprehensive library of resources with MEAN, it’s already been five years since it rose to popularity, and continues to grow every day.

Nowadays, most full-stack developers are familiar, if not fluent, in both LAMP and MEAN. The latter is still trending upwards, so you might find that younger developers are more interested in MEAN than the older LAMP.

It’s also worth noting that Google operates and maintains Angular, the client-side framework in MEAN. This means plentiful updates, solid documentation, and a wealth of support.

Simplicity

If you’re interested in a quick-and-dirty method to get a website up and running as quickly as possible, LAMP is likely your best bet. With its MySQL and PHP base, it plays nice with just about every hosting platform out there, as well as any third party integrations you might need: CMSs, PIMs, CRMs, and the like.

At the same time, MEAN offers a different kind of simplicity. You may have noticed that every technology in the MEAN stack is based in JavaScript—both the front-end and the back-end. That means that, theoretically, you’d only need a developer fluent in a single language, rather than the multiple required by LAMP.

While JavaScript used to be purely a front-end language, it’s recently taken up the mantle of a back-end one as well. A big reason for that has been the rise of the MEAN stack. We’ll see MEAN’s pure-JavaScript foundation offers several other advantages as well.

Performance

A brief disclaimer: it can be difficult to make sweeping claims about the ‘performance’ of a tech stack alone, as its very dependent on variables that are going to be specific to each application. When we talk about web application performance, we’re likely measuring it with two key benchmarks: latency and throughput. Both of these typically need to be measured in an actual system, not a laundry list of technologies.

Having said that, the general consensus is that MEAN, on average, is going to be faster than LAMP. That discrepancy in performance mostly stems from the ‘M’ in MEAN: MongoDB.

MongoDB is a NoSQL database, which, compared to LAMP’s MySQL is faster for basic queries. Being a non-relational database, MongoDB also outperforms MySQL in terms of flexibility and scalability as well.

Scalability

I’ve already mentioned the scalability of MongoDB, but MEAN’s Node.js also offers a lightweight server-side environment that’s ideal for scaling.

As your business grows, you may consider swapping out some of the components in your tech stack. Both LAMP and MEAN come in different variations, but because MEAN is entirely JavaScript, it’s often less of a headache to swap out, say, Angular for React.

Decisions, Decisions

The truth of the matter is that there is no ‘best tech stack’. There’s only the best tech stack for your application and your business. Both LAMP and MEAN offer their own advantages and disadvantages, and hopefully we’ve touched on a few of the key criteria you’re prioritizing when selecting one.

Of course, you may have noticed we omitted one of the more crucial factors: the cost. The cost of implementing MEAN and LAMP will depend on your application’s size, the use case, and a variety of other factors. If you’re looking for a more detailed quote, or if you want further consultation on the right tech stack for you, reach out to Codal. We’ve implemented both stacks for businesses of all sizes and sectors, and can assess your project to see which one is the perfect fit.

Sean McGowan
AUTHOR

Sean

Sean is a technical researcher & writer at Codal, authoring blog posts on topics ranging from UX design to the Internet of Things. Working alongside developers, designers, and marketers, Sean helps support the writing team to ensure Codal produces engaging web content of the highest quality. When not writing about the latest and greatest in digital design, Sean can be found baking, watching movies, or complaining about the shortcomings of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.

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