LAMP vs MEAN: Which Stack Is Right for You?

Choosing the right tech stack in web development is critical when starting a new project. Your tech stack directly impacts your entire system’s scalability, maintenance, and overall performance. Two of the most popular options are LAMP and MEAN. Both are open-source stacks offering flexibility and ease of use, acting as powerful bases for building dynamic web applications.

This article compares the strengths and weaknesses of these stacks to help you choose the right one for your project.

The Right Stack for the Right Project

It’s important to note that there is no objective “best” technology stack — only the best one for your project’s unique needs. The following sections explore the background, components, and use cases of LAMP and MEAN to help you make a more informed decision.

What Is a LAMP Stack?

LAMP is a widely used, traditional stack that’s been around since 1998. As one of the first tech stacks available, LAMP is well-regarded for its stability and support for various web applications and frameworks. Its PHP-based ecosystem is particularly well-suited for smaller, content-driven systems.

Its primary components include:

  • Linux — Linux is the LAMP stack’s operating system (OS). Free and open-source, Linux is a popular choice for many developers who can choose any version they need, optimized for any project.
  • Apache — Apache is the web server of the stack. Despite being an older server, it’s still highly customizable, offering familiarity and robust features.
  • MySQL — MySQL is a relational database optimized for web development. Reliable, easy to use, and compatible with multiple languages, MySQL is a familiar tool that’s been around for over two decades, making it easy to integrate.
  • PHP — PHP is a general-purpose language for front and backend web development. It boasts a wide range of features and libraries familiar to developers.

What Is a MEAN Stack?

MEAN is a more recent technology stack. It was first released by Valeria Karpov in 2013 and has grown in popularity ever since. This stack can handle large numbers of connections simultaneously, making it great for large-scale, real-time applications driven by data.

Its primary components include:

  • Node.js — Node.js is the basis for the MEAN stack. It’s an open-source, cross-platform environment for running JavaScript anywhere. Its asynchronous architecture makes it easy to create real-time applications.
  • MongoDB — MongoDB is a database that offers powerful tools for querying and indexing data to help applications handle large requests. Based on NoSQL, it uses document collections instead of tables to store data. MongoDB stores the documents in JSON-like data structures hierarchically.
  • Express.js — Express.js is a fast, flexible backend framework and HTTP server for Node.js. It features tools for building web applications and APIs, including routing, middleware, and templating.
  • Angular — Angular is an open-source frontend framework developed by Google. It allows developers to build dynamic, single-page web applications using HTML, CSS, and TypeScript. Angular allows for rapid development and easy testing and offers modular code development.

You can learn more about MEAN by checking out our article on MEAN stack.

Comparing LAMP and MEAN Stacks

While you can use both LAMP and MEAN to run dynamic web applications, they’re each better suited for different types of software. Therefore, it’s important to understand the differences between the two stacks to choose the best one for your project.

Languages and Ecosystems

When choosing a tech stack, consider which programming language you’re more familiar with or which may be easier to learn. Using your preferred language can help improve your motivation and productivity.

LAMP uses PHP, a mature and versatile language with a large community. PHP has a rich ecosystem with numerous libraries, frameworks, and tools. Its developer community also offers resources and support to ensure a smooth learning curve for new users.

MEAN runs on JavaScript and is supported on all major browsers. As one of the most ubiquitous languages on the web, JavaScript has a straightforward syntax and plenty of resources to help get new developers up to speed. And while MEAN is relatively new, it has a growing, active community offering support and developing its ecosystem.

Database Systems

MEAN and LAMP offer two completely different default databases. LAMP primarily uses MySQL, a popular and reliable relational database that stores data in tables using a predefined schema. In contrast, MEAN uses MongoDB, a flexible NoSQL database that stores data in collections.

The key difference between the two is scalability. MongoDB allows for easy horizontal scaling through sharding, which involves distributing data across multiple servers. On the other hand, MySQL allows for vertical scaling, which involves adding more resources such as CPU, memory, or disk capacity to the server. While vertical scaling is easier and less complex than sharding, it’s also more limited and less cost-effective.

Check out this article for a detailed comparison between MySQL and MongoDB.