What is Composable Architecture? | Glossary
By Will Price
Companies across the globe have recognized the need to modernize the technologies they use if they want to remain relevant and compete in today’s fast-paced digital landscape. A primary reason behind this ever-growing need is that customer expectations have risen, meaning content must be as diverse as it is personalized.
Most companies would likely only think about their content management system when it comes to managing content. However, businesses need to integrate multiple tools and embrace agility to facilitate the need for engaging digital experiences and personalization. As a result, composability, composable DXPs and other buzz-wordy terms have entered technology stacks when building digital experiences. But what do these terms mean?
We’ve created this glossary to make understanding composability and today’s other relevant terms easier. But first, let’s address why composable architecture is so relevant today.
Composable Architecture: Why Is It Trending?
The rise of modern front-end frameworks, APIs, and an influx of cloud-based SaaS products means today’s businesses have several options for how they can structure their tech stacks. These enterprise organizations are discovering that having a composable architecture is a great solution for their digital experience aspirations as it provides several benefits:
- Greater flexibility to select the best tool for a particular need and also swap out technologies that no longer fit their goals or requirements.
- Lower upfront costs when these businesses opt for lightweight, headless solutions instead of bulky traditional software.
- Companies can respond quickly to volatile markets as well as changing business and consumer needs.
In order to remain competitive, modern businesses are embracing composability as well as many of the concepts mentioned below.
Composability is an architectural principle for designing systems with independent but interrelated business functions. A composable system enables components to be assembled in a variety of combinations to fit a business’ specific requirements.
Composable commerce is an approach to building eCommerce systems that involves selecting best-of-breed tools and assembling them to create one ecommerce stack.
An application programming interface (API) is standard way of allowing applications to communicate. They enable an application to access the data and features of another application without knowing how they are implemented.
A content management system (CMS) is used to create, edit, and distribute content, typically on the web but also in other digital channels. There are several different types of CMS, including traditional CMS and headless CMS.
A digital experience platform (DXP) is a set of integrated technologies that support organizations in digital experience creation, management, delivery, optimization, and conceptualization.
A composable digital experience platform (DXP) is assembled from different best-of-breed solutions and used to create and manage digital experiences across numerous digital touchpoints. The best-of-breed tools that make up a DXP are connected via APIs that enable a loose coupling between software.
A suite DXP is a digital experience platform that comes as an all-in-one solution usually containing a CMS as well as other business functions such as analytics, personalization, digital asset management, and more.
A headless CMS decouples the frontend presentation layer from the backend content repository. Instead, the two layers are able to communicate using APIs, removing restrictions on technology for frontend experiences. These APIs also enable content to be delivered to any device or channel, whether that is a website, mobile application, or an IoT-connected device.
Headless commerce is the separation of an eCommerce store frontend where customers interact and shop, from the backend where eCommerce functionality such as processing orders and managing inventory is handled.
Best of Breed
Best of breed is an approach to software selection where businesses choose the best vendor for a particular use case. For example, a business may choose an analytics software from one vendor, a CMS from a different vendor, and a DAM from another vendor.
MACH is an acronym that stands for microservices, APIs, cloud-native and headless. Technologies that support MACH follow the same principles of a composable architecture, allowing components to be easily plugged into a system as well as swapped or replaced as necessary.
Single Page Application (SPA)
A single-page application (SPA) is a web-based application that preloads within the browser. An SPA removes the need to refresh the entire page to update content or data, updating only the part that is most relevant to each user interaction. This typically leads to a slicker user experience.
The MACH Alliance is a group of organizations that advocates for an open and best-of-breed technology ecosystem.
Modular design is a principle of dividing a system into independent modules that can be created, modified, exchanged, or replaced with other systems.
Microservices are small applications which focus on a single business function. They can be deployed, scaled and replaced independently to each other and the rest of your software platform.
Cloud-native refers to software which runs in the Cloud and is designed to be easily provisioned and elastically scaled to meet flexible demand.
Monolithic architecture refers to any software system where multiple business functions are tightly coupled together in a single application using a single technology stack. Monolithic systems lack the flexibility of modern systems and can be a handicap on brands seeking to meet customer needs today.
Stay Up to Date on Emerging Trends with Content Bloom
Composability and the terms related to this approach toward building software systems are just the latest trends in an ever-changing technology landscape. If you want your business to reach it’s full potential by leveraging these trends, you’ll need support.
Content Bloom is an enterprise digital consultancy that has experience designing and implementing composable systems. See how we can help your business capitalize on these latest trends and approaches by viewing our extensive list of services.
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