Composable Software: Are There Potential Downsides?

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Mike Vertal

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Today's C-suite leaders, particularly the CIOs and CTOs, have a number of decisions to make. Technology capabilities have evolved over the years, and customer demands have grown. With an onslaught of new technologies, digital channels, and customer touchpoints, businesses need to be forward-thinking and adaptable to changes in their industries. 

Since Gartner proclaimed that the future of business applications was composable, the concept of composability has taken the software industry by storm. After all, composability enables more agility, higher productivity and increases an organization’s ability to cope with change. 

Headless CMS vendors and headless commerce platforms have been some of the strongest voices about the benefits of composable architecture. However, while modern enterprises need to embrace composability, they must also be aware of potential downsides. Knowing some issues that could arise enables businesses to select the right tools to make up a composable software stack and deliver on the promise of agility and productivity gains. 

What Is Composable Software?

Composability in software applications refers to a system of components that can be chosen and assembled in different arrangements to satisfy specific requirements. 

Unlike bulky monolithic systems that have complex dependencies and place limits on what businesses can do, composable software systems support the agility, freedom, and flexibility that modern enterprises must have to succeed.

For example, when managing digital experiences, many organizations have discovered the benefits of using a composable DXP built around a headless CMS. A composable DXP is built from best-of-stack systems that can be easily integrated via APIs - or composed from pre-built integrations - and are uniquely capable of meeting the requirements of an enterprise.

Composable DXPs leverage headless architecture, which separates the frontend content presentation layer from the backend content repository and connects them via APIs, allowing for increased agility, more channel delivery options, and easier integrations with third-party systems. 

Read More: What Is a Composable DXP?

Why Composability Matters

Organizations that leverage composability can quickly react and adapt to ever-changing market conditions. In content management, it means that if new channels are created, or a particular tool isn’t able to do the job, the business can easily deploy a new application, or swap one for another. 

Read More: How DevContentOps Enables Composable Applications

Potential Downsides of Composability

The goal of composability is to improve customer centricity, increase flexibility and allow organizations to achieve a faster speed to market, often at a lower cost than dealing with monolithic systems. However, proper software selection is critical to avoid many other issues businesses were hoping to escape by breaking down the monolithic software. 

Vendor Explosion

The biggest danger of embracing composability is that you might need several different vendors for every business application in your organization. Composability offers freedom of choice and allows you to select best-of-stack tools. However, you can run the risk of having to manage dozens of different software applications and vendor contracts to manage the entire digital experience stack. 

Increased Vendor Overhead

Another issue, particularly with vendor explosion, is that each vendor will have its own pricing and service level agreements (SLAs). Ultimately, this can increase the overhead and force you to incur higher costs, even more so than when you were operating using a monolithic or legacy system, which destroys one of the main advantages of a composable system. 

Many enterprise software solutions increase costs depending on the number of users or, in the case of some CMS vendors, the number of content API calls you consume. Now 10X that to apply to multiple tools, and you could have a major problem with operational complexity and higher costs. 

Disparate Interfaces

Not every user interface is created equal. If you have to rely on multiple vendors, your team will need to get used to various admin and other UX interfaces, which could be challenging to integrate, especially if any of them come with steep learning curves. 

Data and Content Governance Challenges

While many of the tools that support composability make sharing data between different tools easier, it doesn’t always work out that way, leading to some challenges for your developer and IT teams. Additionally, keeping track of what assets are stored where and coordinating workflows, for example, between a CMS, a user store or CDP, a personalization engine, and various other tools, could make for a complicated experience. 

How CrafterCMS Solves Potential Composability Challenges

There are numerous benefits to composable architecture. However, you can get more of these benefits and reduce the number of potential challenges with the right CMS.

CrafterCMS is a headless CMS that empowers content authors and marketers, developers and IT operations, plus everyone throughout the organization, to create and deliver engaging digital experiences. However, CrafterCMS goes beyond any headless CMS and offers headless plus capabilities, the perfect solution for overcoming the complexity that can occur with composability. 

Built-in Search: Instead of having to integrate with a search engine, CrafterCMS includes a built-in search engine powered by ElasticSearch. You can plugin a separate search engine and search vendor, but with ElasticSearch built-in, you get a world-class search capability without having to integrate another tool and manage (and pay extra for) another vendor.

Frontend as a Service: Some enterprises, especially those with growing eCommerce brands are starting to adopt FEaaS solutions to make creating and delivering their headless UIs easier. With Crafter Cloud and its support for server-side development and private SaaS capability, developers and authors have all the tools and ease of use they need to create and deliver those end user experiences. Unlike headless-only platforms that only support client-side rendering, CrafterCMS also makes developing on the backend easy. Server-side rendering is available with Groovy, Node.js, Next.js, Nuxt.js, Freemarker for HTML5 sites, and more. Plus, they can leverage pre-built, open source blueprints of websites and e-commerce experiences found in the Crafter Marketplace

Personalization and Content Targeting: Content targeting and personalization are also built-in features available to optimize the digital experience for your audience(s). For basic personalization capabilities, CrafterCMS has you covered with its content targeting service. For more advanced personalization, you can plugin a 3rd-party personalization engine. Either way, you can compose personalized end user experiences for your audience.

Video Management and Delivery: OTT video is playing a larger and larger role in enterprise-class digital experiences. Brands that need to manage video content can also leverage CrafterCMS to create live streaming and video-on-demand experiences. No need for a separate video CMS, a separate vendor, and additional costs and overhead. If you want to build an entire OTT video experience, Crafter Marketplace has an open source Video Center Blueprint to help you compose and launch it quickly.

Digital Asset Management: Not just video assets, but any other media assets may also be managed with CrafterCMS. Large asset files and their metadata can be managed, stored, and delivered. For more sophisticated use cases, plugging in a 3rd party DAM tool is easy as well.

Multi-Experience Creation: Instead of relying on one CMS for your enterprise website, another for creating landing pages and microsites, and another for e-commerce, etc., CrafterCMS and its multi-tenant architecture supports multi-experience, multi-site, multi-app creation, giving you the freedom and features you need for any use case.  

Drag/Drop Composability: All of these capabilities can be leveraged through CrafterCMS’s powerful and easy to use content editing tools. With CrafterCMS’s content authoring experience (Crafter Studio and its Experience Builder), marketers and other content authors can leverage WYSIWYG content editing, drag-and-drop experience building, multi-channel in-context previews, and more. 

API Integration: CrafterCMS not only provides fixed content APIs like any other headless CMS, but also provides extensible REST and GraphQL APIs (that can be scripted with Groovy) to provide an API integration layer on top of all other backend composable services. This helps you isolate and abstract particular vendor implementations, deliver very high performance API responses to your sites/apps, and operate a much more agile and maintainable enterprise solution for the future.

Private SaaS: To address the governance and security needs of major enterprises, CrafterCMS offers a Private SaaS cloud solution that allows you to tailor your deployment regionally and with specific security and monitoring provisions. Unlike other headless CMS SaaS vendors, CrafterCMS enables enterprises to ensure any type of data and content governance requirements are met. 

CrafterCMS is the one CMS vendor that leading enterprises such as Marriott, MasterCard, and eBay use to manage their composable content experiences. Other headless CMSs might force you to turn composability into an expensive undertaking. With CrafterCMS, both marketers and developers can compose a variety of modern digital experiences while minimizing the potential downsides. 

See more of what CrafterCMS offers here: CrafterCMS Version 4 - The Next Level of Headless Content Management.

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