Adaptable by Design: Why Composable Architecture Is the Future of IT
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Adaptable by Design: Why Composable Architecture Is the Future of IT

Here’s what to know about composable architecture, including benefits, examples, and how it compares to other solutions.
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Few things are as important for business architecture as flexibility, efficiency, and functionality. Without these elements, business needs can go unmet, and the overall digital experience (both internally and externally) may lead to costly frustration. 

Companies of all shapes and sizes need software architecture that adapts with them — and that’s where a composable mindset comes into play.

Composable infrastructure answers many of the business world’s most pressing challenges, helping build flexibility into the framework itself. It’s not just about eliminating redundancies, enabling seamless integration, and implementing the right features at the right times—it’s about optimizing the entire digital experience.

Here’s what to know about composable architecture, from its basic definition to future trends.


What Is Composable Architecture?

The term “composability” is a system design principle that refers to the relationships between individual components — how they interact, how they’re deployed, and how they can be interchanged to meet differing needs. “Composable architecture,” then, is a framework of small parts that can be added or removed as necessary to create (and indefinitely recreate) a fully customized infrastructure. These parts are called microservices — reusable technologies that communicate through application programming interfaces (APIs). In many ways, these composable components are building blocks that snap together and come apart with ease.

Composable architecture is a stark contrast to monolithic architecture, which is built as a single component with immovable key features. In the past, a monolithic system may have served businesses effectively enough, but with supply chain disruptions, economic disturbances, and unprecedented market shifts becoming more common, building your entire organization on a single inflexible component is a gamble.

The same applies to a legacy system with complicated — and sometimes redundant — integrations. Although you may be able to essentially “patch in” new features, you must pay for systems individually, navigate imperfect integrations, laboriously move data from place to place, and memorize differing interfaces — all in a framework that will become more and more outdated over time.


Which Industries Need Composable Architecture?

Some industries and individual businesses are a better fit for composability than others. For example, eCommerce companies in the business-to-business (B2B) space are excellent candidates because their market needs change quickly. Small local businesses, on the other hand, may benefit more from a monolithic system, particularly if they exist in a well-defined niche with simple software needs.

Generally speaking, your organization will be a good fit for composable architecture if you’re looking for flexible full-stack solutions that won’t place a burden on internal IT teams.


What Is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)?

Do the independent components necessary for a composable approach lead to a higher TCO? Typically, no. In general, this system type is far more cost-effective than monolithic architecture — but you do need to know what costs to anticipate. These can include:

  • Setup: Deployment costs cover development, integration, migration, and any necessary training.

  • Customization: Although you’ll put time and effort into mapping your independent components for the first time, customization is low-cost and can be repeated indefinitely.  

  • Ongoing maintenance: Maintenance is necessary for any software architecture but can be streamlined and optimized when you know how to manage each individual component.

Maybe this list seems daunting, but don’t forget that potential ROI can counterbalance these costs.


The Benefits of Composable Architecture

The power of modular architecture is obvious at first glance, but to appreciate the full value, let’s break down the benefits:


When your entire system is flexible, you’ll have a much easier time identifying and responding to issues, challenges, or potential improvements. Updates are quick and efficient, meaning your composable system will have minimal downtime and limited service disruptions. This also means you’ll be able to address market and customer needs without delay, helping you move faster and more purposefully than your competition.


As internal and external pressures change your company’s strategies, your composable systems can change too. Whether you need more advanced features or a simpler deployment, adding or removing independent components and changing your software framework is easy. This doesn’t just put you in complete control of costs; it’s also an effective way to better define your place in the market and ensure your services are specific, well-known, and easily accessible.

Regulatory Compliance

Every industry faces some level of regulatory compliance, but in certain spaces, these regulations change quickly and can be highly complex. A monolithic system may need to be constantly restructured to meet these obligations; composable architecture, on the other hand, doesn’t just meet requirements — it gives you the visibility, control, and flexibility to proactively prepare for new ones. 

To achieve this, businesses need to consider the sources of each independent component. This can be a challenge at first, but the process helps create a framework for improved security and compliance — and, ultimately, a vetted network of different components that adhere to highly specific regulations.

Technological Adaptability 

A modular approach makes it possible to update and rearrange components — or even add new ones — whenever necessary. This means your company can keep up with internal and external demands for technological advancement, from integrated cloud services to AI chatbots. This also means you can remove components that are no longer effective or have been made redundant by other solutions — all without extensive downtime or IT burdens. 


Getting Started with Composable Architecture

Before you can become a truly composable business, you’ll need to take a few necessary steps to get started on the right path. These initial strides don’t need to be complicated, but they should be well-informed and carefully planned to deliver the best possible results.

Here are a few details every business needs to know to become composable:

Internal IT and Composable Architecture

When planning your approach, it’s important to understand how these modular components will interact with your IT environment. Examples include:

  • Deployment: How will you deploy an entirely new infrastructure? This includes elements of timing, integration, training, and more — all of which impact your digital experience. Remember to think about your IT environment holistically when changing core elements of your architecture.

  • Management: Consider what’s necessary to shift your underlying software strategy. Composable architecture is easy to maneuver, which makes constant changes tempting — but this can still lead to confusion and frustration if there’s no policy in place for vetting, managing, and limiting these tweaks.

  • Maintenance: Every tech deployment requires maintenance. Know what’s required for your specific architecture, what signs indicate an upcoming issue, and how to stay ahead of these tasks without undermining your day-to-day IT workflows.

  • Delegation: Although composable architecture is intended to be easy on your IT team, it still requires oversight. Consider when and how your internal IT experts will take responsibility for various components — and what that “responsibility” will look like.

Implementation Considerations

When implementing composable solutions, consider:

  • Strategic planning: Set goals to help you visualize success, clarify expectations, and incorporate every department’s needs during and after implementation.

  • Timing: Consider company-wide projects, IT workloads, and even budget flexibility at different times before choosing when to implement composable architecture.

  • Best practices: Research best practices at every level, from granular software development to end-user training. 

  • Business and industry needs: Consider what’s going on in your company and the market at large during your implementation — and make sure you base long-term decisions on long-term outlooks, not short-term concerns and pressures.

For example, composable implementation in financial services must take many things into account, from regulatory compliance and fast-moving customer needs to budgets and priority projects. 


How will your legacy systems integrate with composable architecture? Some solutions may require replacement or removal of existing software, while others are layered on top. Consider how much of your legacy infrastructure is necessary, how much is “nice to have,” and what could be eliminated for a more streamlined IT environment.


Composable Architecture: Future Trends

Although you may not want to base your entire deployment on tech trends, it’s important to turn these patterns into actionable insights. That doesn’t mean you have to “do what everyone else is doing”— rather, you can learn from popular decisions, market expectations, and implementation strategies and then build something unique that will differentiate your company and offerings.

Here’s a look at key trends in composable architecture:

  • Engagement: Customers and employees alike are focused on engagement more than ever, demanding digital experiences that satisfy key needs while also educating, inspiring, and empowering. Composable architecture makes it possible to deliver these outcomes through consistent updates and customized interfaces.

  • Cost-efficiency: As businesses look for ways to save money without sacrificing performance, composable solutions will increasingly be framed as cost-saving solutions instead of just technology investments.

  • Evolution, not replacement: In many deployments, composable architecture will likely become a tool for helping companies evolve without entirely abandoning legacy systems. This helps encourage a growth mindset rather than abrupt changes all at once.


Learn More About Composable Architecture and the Future of IT

The future of IT is flexible — and with composable infrastructure, so is your company.

To bring all of these elements together, from deployment and training to security needs and tech trends, you need a single solution with unprecedented agility. That’s where a digital experience platform (DXP) comes in. Easy to customize, deploy, update, and scale, a DXP is a convenient way to implement composable solutions.

Ready to see for yourself? Learn about Liferay DXP today.

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