Composable Architecture: Why CIOs Should Bother


If you are a CIO or a CTO, you are not only constantly challenged to benchmark but also to continuously modernize your infrastructure, applications and data landscape with innovative and disruptive solutions.

The pace with which disruptive solutions are coming to market has increased multifold. To incorporate these solutions into the IT landscape, CIO/CTOs need to build elements of composability into their sourcing strategy. Adopting composable architecture at the enterprise level enables successful sourcing of providers’ composable solutions.

What Is Composable Architecture?

To understand composable architecture, one must understand a very important organizational construct, which is the composable enterprise. A composable enterprise is an organization that modularizes business capabilities, to be composed and re-composed, to achieve desired business outcomes in response to an ever-changing business landscape.

In a composable enterprise, modularity is supported in every business capability, including people, process, delivery models and technology. Composable architecture is all about efficient modularity. Organizations should be able to compose and recompose the IT landscape to support business composability for the changing business landscape. Creating a foundational modularity with a composable architecture allows a company to take any technology solution out and replace it with a new one with minimal effort.

Why Adopt Composable Architecture?

Composable architecture offers agility and adaptability for changing business needs. From lead generation to nurturing customers to hire-to-retire business capabilities, composable architecture is about selecting the best technical solution for the business capability.


Figure 1: Example of a Composable Architecture

Is your pricing optimization engine not strong enough? Replace the existing engine with a best-in-class solution in line with business needs with less effort. Need a better search engine? Adopt the one that's best suited for the newly created business model.   

Composable Architecture Provides Unparalleled Scalability

By building a modular structure designed to evolve quickly, a company can respond to changes needed for scaling their business. Composability breeds flexibility, which allows architects to expand services more easily and quickly in line with increasing demand. The foundational principles for composable architecture are language- and technology-stack agnosticism so it can support new APIs, cloud services and tools that enable scalability.

For example, an e-commerce system for a leading toy retailer was crashing frequently due to increased seasonal demand. It is now able to process thousands of orders per minute and grow its revenue more than 40% by migrating to API-lead and cloud-based composable architecture, which is modular and responsive.

Composable Architecture Embraces a “Fail Fast” Mindset

In the current uncertain times, failing multiple times before arriving at the winning business model is the norm. Many organizations, traditional and start-up alike, are adopting the fail-fast mindset to succeed. Composable architecture enables companies to build package business capabilities on a flexible data fabric along with embedded artificial intelligence to help quickly test new business models for market viability – and therefore, fail even faster. 

Co-existence of Legacy Systems to Optimize Value and Costs

While composable IT can be used to replace legacy systems, a critical advantage is that the two can also operate side by side. This approach allows large organizations to move business logic to APIs as package capabilities and reduce legacy systems to data storage, which can be cloudified later based on the cloud strategy. This gives you time and value until replacement can be carried out in a meaningful and cost optimized way.

Constant Alignment with Evolving Customer Engagement  

User experience brings with it constantly changing customer expectations. What was cool yesterday is dumb today. This is posing new challenges for e-commerce and companies that need to manage their brand positioning by constantly finding and adapting to new markets. Composable business and IT allow brands to constantly change their interaction with users based on data and real-time feedback. This way, businesses can ensure they maximize their current positioning. Composable architecture allows development teams and architects to not only implement customer journey changes quickly but also swap out capability components in line with their strategic direction. 

Bringing Elements of Composability to Your Sourcing Strategy

Enterprises can bring elements of composability into their sourcing strategy by figuring out the optimal combination of “buy” and “build” for microservices and packaged business capabilities. Once that is in place, defining parameters for vendors to be composable to deliver composable applications should also be part of the strategy.

ISG can help you with continuous benchmarking and modernizing the IT landscape by adopting composable architecture and bringing elements of composability into your sourcing strategy. Contact us to get started.