A brief introduction to Composable Architecture

Gartner first introduced us to the concept of Composable Commerce in 2020 and since then I have seen it branded as Composable Enterprise, Composable Architecture and Composable Applications. As a Software Engineer, the latter feels more correct to me but Amy, our Marketing Manager, politely insisted I use Composable Architecture and who am I to argue.

The more I think about it, the more I think Amy has got it spot on; Composable Architecture is a better term, and it emcompases both the IT and the business’s perspectives. 

So, what is it?

From Kyan’s standpoint it’s a way of designing and building an application that is agnostic, scalable, future proof and maintainable.

In the past, applications have been built as monoliths; large applications combining databases, business logic and front-end (or presentation layer) into a single, giant entity. These applications eventually become more difficult to maintain and scale due to the tight coupling between all of these different layers, which in turn increases the costs to the business and, as I have seen many times, frustration for the engineering team as things become more complex.


One way that this design has been improved is by adopting a headless strategy and moving the presentation layer out of the monolith, allowing you to incrementally extract business functionality into microservices leveraging APIs. Commonly, the MACH technology ecosystem is employed to achieve this, and we are big advocates of it at Kyan.

The MACH ecosystem stands for Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless, and Composable Architecture makes use of this technology. But that is only half the story…

Composable Architecture isn’t just about how an application is built but also what is required from a business perspective and how the business capabilities are integrated in order to create a best of breed application, which is where Gartner coined the term Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs):

Packaged business capabilities (PBCs) are software components that represent a well-defined business capability, functionally recognisable as such by a business user.

Technically, a PBC is a bounded collection of a data schema and a set of services, APIs and event channels.

The well-implemented PBCs are functionally complete to ensure autonomy (no critical external dependencies, no need for direct external access to its data).

PBCs are meant to be used as building blocks for application product suites and custom-assembled application experiences.

A PBC can be custom built from the existing business capability model and made up of one or more microservices, but equally, it could be a service that is consumed from a third-party vendor, thus allowing full flexibility to choose the right components that fit the business need.

Most importantly, Composable Architecture is about aligning the business with IT to create the best possible solutions in a reusable and scalable approach, reducing complexity to make the time to market faster and deliver the highest quality product.



We’ll be sharing more about Composable Architecture, so keep an eye on our social feeds for more content from the Kyan tech team. If you’d like to read more about headless and how we’ve harnessed that over the last few years, check out one of our previous blogs from the team:

Why we love headless content management by Dave Cartledge
How Content Migration to Headless CMS Could Be Your Last by Tom Marshall


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