What Is Composable Architecture

What is Composable Architecture & Why Should You Care?

Composable architecture is the art of building a complex system from individual, independent components that effortlessly connect, combine, and reconfigure to create diverse applications or solutions. This allows you to cherry-pick the best-of-breed technology in specialized domains to create an ecosystem that best suits your needs.

While this terminology may seem like an industry buzz word, it actually represents a real, strategic design approach that redefines the very fabric of how systems are built.

From a strategic perspective the benefits of composability are that organizations are freer to pursue new, evolving technology solutions (think AI backed search, commerce, and customer service) because the technical barriers to implementation are reduced.

Other benefits of composability are vast—agility, interoperability, scalability, reusability—each deserving its own analysis. Yet, the driving force behind composability is technological enablement. 

Choosing products aligned with MACH (Microservices; API-first, Cloud-native; and Headless)principles and Composability standards transcends the buzz. It empowers your IT teams in two fundamental ways: 

  1. Protection from Vendor Lock-In: Composability liberates you from vendor lock-in, allowing you to choose optimal tools tailored to your unique requirements.
  2. Flexibility to Choose the Best: Embracing Composability means freedom from a rigid technological ecosystem. Cherry-pick the finest tools available without sacrificing integration, shaping a tech stack honed to your business goals.

In the grand scheme, if architected and implemented properly, there should be minimal impact on upstream and downstream systems when swapping out vendors and technologies. Consider composability architecture as a plug-and-play mechanism for systems, where components in your tech stack can be composed, added, or removed. This process should enhance your environment without causing significant disruptions to your development cycle. 

Beyond Microservices: The Evolution of Composability

But hold on, isn't this just a fancy term for microservices? Questions may arise about whether Composability aligns with microservices or suits enterprise architecture. These are two different yet related concepts that should work together as composability has evolved as a response to, and an enhancement of microservices. As mentioned prior composability in refers to the ability to assemble or compose different services to create new, more complex applications. It represents an extension and evolution of microservices  a few key areas, consider the following

Flexibility and Agility

Microservices architecture decomposes a monolithic application into smaller, independently deployable services (Microservices Decomposition). Composability takes this decomposition a step further by emphasizing the flexibility to assemble and recompose these microservices in various ways. It allows developers to choose and combine services dynamically, adapting to changing requirements and business needs.

Furthermore, Composability enables dynamic composition of services, allowing developers to combine existing microservices to create new applications or features. This flexibility is crucial in fast-paced development environments where requirements evolve rapidly. Developers can leverage existing services and compose them to meet specific business needs without building everything from scratch.

Service Orchestration and Choreography

Composability often involves service orchestration, where a central component (orchestrator) coordinates the interactions and workflow between different microservices.  We consider this an evolution of microservices because it introduces a higher level of coordination and integration. Orchestration is beneficial for complex business processes that involve multiple microservices working together in a coordinated fashion.

If Orchestration scares you consider choreography. Composability also supports service choreography, an alternative approach where each microservice plays an active role in the coordination without relying on a central orchestrator. This decentralized coordination aligns with the principles of microservices, emphasizing autonomy and independence. Composability allows for the evolution from traditional orchestration to more decentralized and event-driven choreography as the need arises.

Stay tuned as we unravel the genesis and evolution of service architecture on our site. Spoiler alert: Composability is not just fitting; it's the proactive measure your architecture craves for future-proofing.

The Symphony of Integration: A Composable Commerce Ecosystem Example

Envision constructing an online commerce ecosystem that effortlessly integrates diverse tools. There is a Commerce Engine for transactions, a Customer Experience tool for audience engagement, and a Content Management System for digital content curation. In the past you were forced into picking a monolithic solution that typically bundled these together, forcing you to choose between tools that ‘shine’ in one area but fall flat in another’.   Today, however, composability empowers you to orchestrate best of breed tools seamlessly, sculpting a dynamic and adaptable composition tailored to your unique business needs. 

After our systems are live, the organization restructures and hires a new Ecommerce director who decides AI based search must be built into the customer experience tool. After a technical assessment the organization realizes that migrating to a different tool should be quicker and cheaper than initially feared. Because of the composable architecture the impact is minimal – in this case thanks to the front end coded to interact with a series of technology agnostic interface services. In this model, Interface changes, with the backend and frontend remaining largely untouched, prevent projects from spiraling into "multi-year million-dollar initiatives" whenever a change is needed. 

In embracing composability, we empower our systems with the resilience to evolve, ensuring that the only constant in our digital journey is forward progress. Have questions about how to make this a reality? Shoot us a note, we’d love to hear from you!