In the face of unpredictable external changes and market uncertainty, businesses must remain agile and resilient. This is a super-ambitious task for companies whose work depends on comprehensive software systems and an extensive network of customer touchpoints. A silver bullet for solving this challenge is composable architecture — an innovative design approach to building software.
Leverage SaM Solutions’ decades-long expertise in IT to develop high-quality custom software for your business.
This article explores the concept of composable architecture, its benefits, drawbacks, and popular use cases.
What Is Composable Architecture?
Composable architecture is a software design approach that emphasizes building complex systems from smaller, interoperable parts.
The basic idea of composable architecture is that you create a comprehensive software system from independent components, which can be easily added or removed. Components from one structure can be used to build others. It’s like playing with Lego blocks, when all the details fit together, and you can combine them in different ways, assembling an unlimited number of patterns.
With this approach, companies achieve several essential goals:
- Real-time adaptability — they can instantly scale systems up and down according to emerging market and customer requests.
- Accelerated development — they can build applications and deliver new functionalities faster.
- Reduced costs — they can cut expenses on software development, management, maintenance, and updates thanks to reusable components and system modularity.
Composable application architecture is closely related to MACH technologies, where M stands for microservices, A — for API-first, C — for cloud-native, and H — for headless.
At its core, MACH is the implementation of composable architecture principles, enabling companies to build complex and adaptable solutions for the commerce industry.
- Microservices are accountable for composability and modularity.
- APIs represent the service-oriented approach to development and allow for internal communication between microservices and external integration with third-party systems.
- Cloud-native deployment model provides resources needed for scalability.
- Headless architecture separates the front end and backend of an application to deliver better customer experiences.
Key Features of Composable Architecture
Composable technologies are based on the idea of disaggregation, so their core features include modularity, reusability, and interoperability.
This feature refers to the ability to break down large software systems into independent modules. Such modules can be developed, tested, and deployed independently, which makes it easier to manage and maintain complex systems. Modularity also makes it easier to update or replace individual components without affecting the entire system. APIs are the tools that fit all the pieces together and make them communicate.
Code reusability is another essential feature that highly improves development efficiency. By designing components that are decoupled from specific applications or use cases, developers can create a library of reusable building blocks and assemble new apps much faster. Reusability reduces development time and costs while improving code consistency and quality.
The third important feature of composable architecture is the ability of different components to communicate and work together seamlessly. Composable systems are built around APIs and standard protocols, which simplifies data exchange and allows different software solutions to function as a single entity. This interoperability also streamlines the integration of new components or services into existing systems without requiring significant changes to the underlying architecture.
Benefits of Using Composable Architecture
As modern software systems become larger and more complex, it is harder to maintain and update them. Composable architecture provides several benefits that can help businesses build more efficient, scalable, and adaptable digital solutions.
By focusing on individual components of composable architecture, developers can create more flexible systems and easily adapt them to new requirements and technologies.
A vivid example of the improved flexibility is the composition of microservices. This architecture implies that applications are broken down into small services with unique functionalities. The development and deployment of such services are independent, and they can be modified, added and removed as needed, without a dramatic impact on other parts. As a result, teams cooperate flexibly and can avoid significant downtime when updating the system.
Composability is all about scaling systems up and down when required, enabling them to handle increased (or reduced) traffic or load.
Suppose you have a video functionality by one vendor on your platform. As your organization expands, you want to enhance your business capability and introduce an AI-based video tool by another vendor. Finding a new tool becomes a challenge due to vendor lock-in, which limits the number of potential products that you can integrate. This problem arises when vendors’ products are not built on compatible foundations. They may not be compatible in language or code, making integration difficult or even impossible.
With composable architecture, each component used in your development process is pluggable, that’s why you can integrate them effortlessly.
Leveraging composable technology, you can build a library of reusable components within your organization, which will dramatically reduce development time and costs. In addition, composable systems are more resilient to failure due to independent components. So if one element fails, others will continue to function, leading to minimal disruption.
Use Cases of Composable Architecture
Modern software development offers a range of opportunities for implementing composable architecture.
The composable approach can be applied to both the backend and the front end of a web application.
Imagine you need to develop an ecommerce website. Instead of building a monolithic solution that handles everything from product management to order processing, you could break it down into several microservices, each responsible for a specific task. You could have:
- A product catalog service that manages product information.
- A shopping cart service that handles user purchases and wish lists.
- A payment service that processes money transactions, etc.
On the front end, a navbar component might be reused across the application, so that developers wouldn’t need to write a new code version for every use case.
Furthermore, you can build new apps with common functionality using the same microservices. For example, the same payment service can be added to multiple ecommerce applications, reducing development effort.
In traditional mobile app development, engineers typically create a monolithic codebase that includes all the application logic and features. This can make it difficult to update and maintain the app as it grows, and can also result in a larger application size and slower performance.
Composable architecture, on the other hand, involves breaking down an application into smaller, independent modules that can be developed and tested separately. These modules can then be combined and connected into a complete application.
Consider a mobile app that includes several features such as user authentication, a social feed, and a messaging system. Leveraging composable architecture, each feature can be developed as a separate module with its own APIs and interfaces. These modules can then be connected together to create a complete app. If the messaging system needs to be updated, for example, the developer can simply update the messaging module without affecting the rest of the app. Such high flexibility of mobile apps allows companies to add or remove features over time with no trouble.
Internet of Things development is tightly related to composable architecture and, in fact, many existing IoT solutions are based on this approach. Think of a system that allows users to monitor and control a home thermostat from their mobile device. In this case, a composable architecture implies the combination of elements such as a thermostat’s wireless sensor, a gateway, a web server, and a mobile app, all interacting with each other via clearly defined interfaces. Of course, these components can be integrated with other devices or software parts to form an even larger IoT system.
Let’s say a company wants to deploy an ecommerce application to handle a soaring number of users during peak shopping periods such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Instead of building a traditional monolithic architecture that requires significant upfront investment in hardware, they can use a cloud computing platform (e.g., AWS or Azure) that provides composable infrastructure capabilities.
Using this approach, the company can dynamically allocate computing resources based on the workload demand. During low-demand periods, businesses can utilize fewer building blocks to conserve costs and during peak shopping periods, they will add more building blocks to handle the increased workload. Such a strategy ensures flexibility and scalability, as the company can adjust the infrastructure according to the changing needs.
Challenges of Composable Architecture
While composable architecture offers many benefits, it also implies several problems that need to be addressed.
Testing and QA
The dynamic and flexible nature of the composable approach makes it tough to predict, test, and verify interactions between components. Since various elements of the system can be developed by different teams, it is important to ensure that testing and QA processes are standardized and well-documented. If components have different testing requirements, it complicates the management of dependencies between them. Moreover, each time a new configuration is created, it needs to be tested thoroughly to ensure that all the parts work seamlessly together. Since there are multiple independent parts to be checked, integration testing can become more complex.
To address these challenges, companies should implement rigorous testing and QA practices, including test automation, continuous integration and delivery, and a robust monitoring and logging system.
Composable architecture can also pose security challenges because it relies on multiple components from different sources, and each component may have different security requirements and vulnerabilities.
To mitigate these risks, organizations need to develop a comprehensive security strategy that includes end-to-end encryption, access controls, authentication, and data protection. Additionally, it is critical to monitor and audit the entire system for security breaches and potential threats. This requires a strong security culture across all teams, as well as regular security assessments and vulnerability scans.
Composability leads to complex workflows because different components may have different interfaces, data formats, and processing requirements. This can make it challenging to design and manage the entire system.
In this regard, businesses need a robust data governance framework that includes standardized data formats and processing workflows. This can help ensure that data is consistent and accurate across all components, which in turn can improve system performance and reliability. Additionally, a comprehensive documentation and training program should be put in place to ensure that all team members understand the data governance framework and can effectively manage the system.
How SaM Solutions Can Help You Build a Composable Architecture
Building a composable architecture requires a deep understanding of software design principles, as well as expertise in implementing a wide range of technologies and tools.
SaM Solutions has been on the outsourcing market since 1993. With a wealth of experience in cloud computing, microservices, ecommerce, and other domains, our experts can provide clients with the guidance and support necessary to successfully implement a composable architecture. They can help you identify the right tech stack, design and implement modular components, and integrate them into a cohesive system that meets your unique needs. Our developers will also ensure that the platform is maintainable, scalable, and can be easily adjusted to fit the ever-changing needs of your project.