Node.js vs ASP.NET for enterprise software development: which stack is better for large-scale projects

The larger the project the higher the price business owners pay for poor technology decisions. To avoid mistakes, CTOs and tech consultants need to consider dozens of factors and compare multiple options. For backend, enterprises  frequently consider Node.js to be a safe choice for their server side needs.

According to a 2018 survey by Stack Overflow, Node.js is the most used technology among professional developers, with 49.9% of respondents voting for it. Most often these engineers work on web applications, while enterprise software comes in second place.

The official Node.js website states that fast, simple, easy, powerful, and flexible are the most common adjectives to describe the technology. Many tech behemoths, from NASA to Walmart to Netflix, embrace Node.js as a part of their operations and benefit from its unique features.

nodejs impact

Image credit: Nodejs.org

However, companies shouldn’t opt for Node.js blindly, just because it is popular and in high demand. To make a well-informed decision, they need to understand how this technology differs from others and what weak points it has.

Previously, we reviewed Node.js against its top competitors, and you can read more about:

This time we will focus on key differences between Node.js vs ASP.NET.

asp.net or nodejs

Image credit: SimilarTech

Ecosystem: JavaScript runtime vs .NET framework

Created in 2009 by 29-year-old Ryan Dahl, a Californian software engineer, Node.js is an open-source runtime environment that uses Google’s v8 engine for executing Javascript (JS) code at the server side. In other words, it enables developers to write the back-end code in a primarily front-end language. Over the years, JS engineers have created a lot of impressive Node.js frameworks to streamline building apps.

ASP.NET is also an open-source technology, but in contrast with Node.js, it is a server-side framework that contains libraries, tools, and everything developers may need to build an app. The technology, introduced by Microsoft in 2002 allows the creation of dynamic websites and web applications with .NET languages, such as C#, F#, and Visual Basic. Though used in different types of projects, C# is considered to be particularly beneficial for building Windows desktop apps and games.

Support: cross-platform vs Windows-centric

The ability to run on multiple platforms is one of the strong points of Node.js. It officially works on Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, SmartOS, FreeBSD, and IBM AIX.

Contrarily, ASP.NET was for a long time limited to the Windows ecosystem. This started changing in 2016 with ASP.NET Core, a redesigned version of the framework running on Linux and macOS as well. The first stable release of the cross-platform technology appeared in December, 2018.

Processing model:  asynchronous vs synchronous

To compare ASP.NET vs Node.js, we need to take into account their processing models which differ widely from each other. While JavaScript and, thus, Node.js are asynchronous by nature, ASP.NET offers developers a choice between two options.

An asynchronous model permits the server to handle multiple requests at a time without blocking any of them. Node.js executes async code in a single main thread, however, it spawns multiple background threads to delegate some tasks. This approach allows developers to create lightweight and efficient solutions when building data-intensive real-time apps.

nodejs server

Image credit: GitHubGist

ASP.NET is synchronous and multi-threaded by default, which means that it sequentially processes each request within its own thread inside the thread pool. If the number of tasks exceeds the available threads, they wait until a thread comes free. Theoretically, you can create more threads, but in practice such a solution is not always advantageous, as it requires additional system resources (CPU, memory, etc).

multi threaded server

Image credit: GitHubGist

In a nutshell, an async process is more complex and slower when compared to an equivalent sync process, but it allows the system to avoid deadlocks and utilize resources more efficiently. The asynchronous model pays off if your server processes long-running tasks and a high volume of traffic while you’ll probably see no difference with an app handling a small amount of requests.

APS.NET supports async programming starting with .NET 4.5, and leaves the decision on the model to developers.

Node.js vs ASP.NET comparison table

  Node.js ASP.NET
Developer Ryan Dahl Microsoft
First release May, 2009 January, 2002
Latest stable release March, 2019 December, 2018 (ASP.NET Core)
Type Open-source runtime environment Open-source framework
Primary language JavaScript C#
Supported platforms Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, SmartOS, FreeBSD, IBM AIX Windows (+ Linux and macOS with ASP.NET Core)
Processing model by default Asynchronous, single-threaded, non-blocking I/O (input/output) Synchronous, multi-threaded, blocking I/O (supports async/await option)
Top clients Twitter, AliExpress, BBC, NASA, Walmart, Netflix, Uber, eBay, Groupon MSN, Microsoft, AccuWeather, DELL, Stack Overflow, Marketwatch

ASP.NET vs Node.js benchmark

Which of the two technologies would be a better fit for enterprise application software (EAS)? First of all, we need to identify the essential requirements for apps of this type.

An enterprise is associated with a large-scale complex organization and the main goal of EAS is to improve its productivity and efficiency. An enterprise app typically deals with large amounts of data, automates the majority of enterprise tasks and provides services to a large number of users at a time. In view of this, the enterprise solution must be:

  • high-performing
  • scalable
  • reliable and robust

Now let’s check Node.js vs ASP.NET against these major attributes.

Performance

Both back-end technologies are known for their excellent productivity and speed. As you can see from the above graph, 48% of companies point out the increased app performance when switching to Node.js. The JS back-end solution takes advantage of the fast Chrome V8 engine and due to the one-threaded asynchronous model, it can handle many requests at a time without weighing down the server.

However,  the results of TechEmpower tests,dated 30th of October, 2018, show that ASP.NET Core wins the Node.js vs ASP.NET performance battle.

Of course, this victory is not final and we should take it with a pinch of salt, as performance vastly depends on your specific use case. According to SSA Backend, Node.js usually handles requests faster when no heavy computation is required, otherwise, it loses to ASP.NET.

The platform and environment also impact performance. For example, Sébastien Ros, one of the ASP.NET developers at Microsoft, states on Twitter that for ASP.NET Core ‘Windows tests are faster than their Linux counterparts on the same hardware by 20%, sometimes more’. Anyway, the redesigned cross-platform version is much faster than the old Windows-based framework.

nodejs vs asp.net

Scalability

An increasing number of enterprises prefer to build their software on top of microservices. In contrast with the traditional monolithic architecture, a microservices-based software allows each component to scale independently, and as a result, the app can grow faster without falling apart under its own weight. Node.js is a perfect fit for such distributed systems, and that’s why it was adopted by actively growing companies like Netflix, eBay, Uber, Twitter, and more.

ASP.NET is also highly scalable and Stack Overflow is great proof of this fact. The question and answer website for programmers with over four million registered users is written in ASP.NET and based on monolithic architecture.

Reliability and robustness

ASP.NET is highly valued by the corporate sector due to its proven reliability and security. The platform provides developers with whatever is required to build solid software and supports the statically-typed C# language known for its robustness.

Quite the opposite, JavaScript is often criticized for lacking static types and strictness, which are essential for complex enterprise-grade applications with several million lines of code. One of the popular ways to solve this problem is to add optional static typing to Node.js by using TypeScript, a strict superset of JS.

Currently, ASP.NET remains well ahead of Node.js in terms of market share, and this gap is especially large when it comes to websites with over a million users.

ASP.NET vs Node.js market share by top websites

asp.net vs node.js

Image credit: SimilarTech

Availability of developers

We added this factor to the top three requirements as enterprise software development calls for a considerable number of experts. The above-mentioned Stack Overflow survey reveals that JavaScript tops the list of most popular programming languages among professional developers, with C# coming in eighth place. At the same time, .Net Core is the fourth most loved technology in the ‘Frameworks, Libraries and Tools’ category while Node.js is in the lead.

javascript stackoverflow

 

node.js stackoverflow

Image credit: Stack Overflow

Both Node.js and .NET Core enjoy support from large communities of engineers working for small, midsize and enterprise-level businesses. They are active on GitHub and Stack Overflow which means that you can solve practically any issue with the help of the community.

Key takeaways

ASP.NET Core enjoys the confidence of industrial leaders due to its great performance, robustness, and ability to scale. The framework provides engineers with a wide toolset for building large-scale projects, which makes it a safe bet for enterprise development. Being less mature, Node.js is still an appealing choice for big companies, especially those adopting microservices and real-time technologies. Contact us, and our experts will consult you on whether Node.js fits your project or you would be better off opting for another back-end solution.

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