It’s a fascinating time to be in the world of software! Multichannel engagement, embedded experiences, micro apps, hyper customization, and low-code/no-code technologies are all redefining the way applications are being built, packaged, delivered, and reconfigured. This sea change in the way we build, rather than “compose” applications are driving new business models and major industry shapeshifts.
“Future application experiences will be built from composable business capabilities that can quickly enable new business scenarios.”
-Gartner (2021 Strategic Roadmap For The Composable Future Of Applications)
A composable enterprise is one that takes a modular approach to business, where outcomes are delivered using pre-existing building blocks called packaged business capabilities (PBCs). A plug-n-play model is in effect where these PBCs can be quickly reconfigured and reassembled with ease. Composable enterprises can go faster to market, quickly align with rapid business changes, and enable greater innovation.
What Is New about Composability Now?
Since the early days of programming, there has been constant evolution in the way software is written, packaged, and consumed to increase efficiency and reusability. Much of this has been focused on business logic code that is well defined, isolated and in the past decade, externalized as API contracts. Well-defined APIs can be easily integrated, interchanged and composed.
In recent years, trends like multicloud, infrastructure-as-code, and configurable multi-channel user experiences have forced application teams to think about flexibility, configurability and composability across the entire application stack. With the advancement in development technologies, it is not surprising that the entire application fabric can be managed using composable software components. Also these components can then be visually built on top of each other using a lego-like approach, more on this later.
Packaged Business Capabilities
PBCs are key to building composable applications. IT represents a fully functional component with user experience, underlying business logic, APIs and configuration all integrated into a single package. For example, if you were building an order management mobile application, imagine simply assembling the application with PBCs (Order, Inventory, Customer). In doing so, not only are you curating a user experience journey but also providing all the necessary logic to put together a fully functional app.
The benefits of PBC are many — you can map them directly to a business service. Citizen developers or less skilled programmers can build applications by assembling PBCs using visual consumption mechanisms. PBCs can also curate end user experiences bringing consistent look and feel across the application. In many cases, application teams can also use PBCs to build platforms and offer capabilities to customers in an efficient manner.
Micro Frontends, Micro Apps and Micro Journeys — Final Frontier of App Composability
The ultimate benefit of composability is derived when new application experiences can be easily stitched together using existing PBCs in a plug-n-play fashion. Thankfully, in recent years, there has been great advancement in UI technology and frameworks. As opposed to monolithic UIs, modern day interfaces are task-specific single purpose apps that are contextual in nature. These single purpose apps also called micro apps can then be easily assembled into fully functional apps with micro frontend technology.
Every layer of the stack can be composed and assembled all the way from a backend data source to a front end user purpose-built application experience. See this example of how an Order Management application experience is visually composed with composable building blocks.
Bringing It all Together with Low Code
The principles of low-code based on visually building applications and services using ready-made components (PBCs), integrations and design patterns align perfectly well with the theory of composability. The road to composability can be a long journey filled with many milestones for which enterprises can take the low-code route to gather speed and reduce complexities.
Becoming a composable enterprise requires a whole new mindset, a risk-taking culture and the right technology mix. For an enterprise on the path to agility, collaboration, and reusability, low-code promises to be the perfect composable workbench to build powerful applications that can be easily plugged into the enterprise ecosystem with little to no disruption.
The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners. TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in the following companies: MADE, Real.
Feature image via Pixabay.