Composable architecture: the what, why, and how

adam conn
Adam ConnPosted on Aug 22, 2022
5 min read
CategoriesComposable

When it comes to digital experiences, more and more analysts and IT experts have been touting the benefits of a composable approach. But what exactly is a composable platform, why does it trump other options, and how do you implement it? Read on for the answers.

The meaning of composability 

With a composable architecture, you can select the products that best suit your needs and easily integrate them with other products to build a stack. That's because composable architectures are based on the principle of API-first, ensuring that applications in the stack work with microservices and other APIs even if they're in another language and that those applications can communicate with one another.

The benefits of composability

Composable architectures are relatively new. Until recently, many companies were content to rely on a single vendor to select product solutions for their commerce system. Most of those solutions come as a suite (a preintegrated collection of products from a vendor) or a monolith (a single product with various features).

Such an approach has its advantages. Because all the software comes from a single vendor, you need not shop around for each and every component. All you need to do is contact one vendor only for questions or issues on sales, implementation, support, and maintenance.

Then why switch to a composable architecture, you ask? Because composable architectures are superior to traditional ones, and the signs are that the time is right for adopting the former.

Why composable beats suites and monoliths

Inertia can be a powerful force. People routinely hang on to unsatisfactory solutions because they’re used to them. Besides, change often means uncertainty, cost, and, above all, disruption to the status quo. However, composable architectures offer distinct advantages:

  • Flexibility. With suites or monoliths, you must conform to their capabilities and structure. Otherwise, you must tack on third-party extensions or build features yourself. Composable architectures offer you the freedom to construct a system that suits your needs without complexities.

  • Best-of-breed technology. By selecting each part of your stack individually, you ensure that your teams get what they need to produce the best results. No stack can be the best at everything, so buying everything from one vendor means some teams are stuck with tools that don’t do everything they want.

  • Less reliance on someone else’s roadmap. If enough users demand functionality not available in a suite, the vendor usually gets the message and adds the requested features in the next update. That takes time, however. Because composable architectures comprise separate but well-orchestrated pieces, new and ready-to-integrate components become available much faster.

  • Speedier implementation. Adding new features from a suite or monolith often involve time-consuming upgrades that require system-wide testing. Not so with a composable architecture, for you are changing and testing only a single, isolated part there.

  • No vendor lock-in. With a composable architecture, if a vendor’s product fails to meet your needs, you’re free to look elsewhere. For example, if your business has outgrown the features of your commerce component, by all means swap it out and plug in another from a different vendor. With a suite or monolith, you’re stuck, often for a long time.

  • A multivendor environment. Multivendor environments are now a reality as organizations come to understand that it’s unrealistic to count on one vendor for everything. Composable architectures are ideal for this new normal.

Why now is the right time for composable

In its early days, web technology offered an elegant solution to the limitations of client-server architectures, hence its rapid and enthusiastic adoption. Composable architectures are similarly transformative. Here’s why:

  • SaaS delivers scale. A fully SaaS composable architecture removes the cost and complexity of building digital experiences at scale, particularly across multiple services. With no need to manage or update servers, your teams can focus on delivery.

  • Composable has gone native. Suite and monolith vendors have tried to reposition themselves as being composable, but they are simply attaching APIs to their outdated architectures. Today, many great services are built to be composable from the ground up. 

  • Specialization delivers innovation. Delivering digital experiences through different services might sound like herding cats when compared to a single platform. Instead, think of composable as speed boats, which quickly steer teams to where they need to be, as opposed to a monolith cruise liner that drops off teams individually. 

Tips for going composable

Below are two excellent tips for adopting composability.

  • Look for true orchestration. All composable services spotlight their ease of integration with others, but when you work with them, complications often arise. Anyone who’s worked with technology can attest to the phenomenon that complicated means expensive. Orchestration can save you time and money in implementation, and then as your team uses the new stack. Ultimately, Uniform’s composable orchestration helps you integrate and deliver ROI with your new tools much faster than manual integration.

  • Get ready to test and learn. With a composable stack, you have the freedom to test and adapt as you progress. By adopting a composable mindset and powerful orchestration with Uniform, you can easily test different tools for your team rather than being locked into your initial plan. 

Now that you understand the nuances involved in adopting composable architectures, the next step is to pinpoint the timeline and vendor. Contact us to see how Uniform can help accelerate your site.

More about composable architecture

Uniform has been named in the

2022 Gartner® Cool Vendors™ in Digital Commerce Report