Rise of composable
Companies are moving their technology toward a distributed, composable approach.
The focus is on fast movement, embracing change, flexibility and choosing solutions to meet their business goals.
We believe that by 2024, 70% of large and medium organizations will have composability as a key criteria for their new application planning.”
It’s understandable that change can be uncomfortable. Many marketers are trained on WordPress, Drupal or other standard platforms.
But a new, better, faster and more secure way is here, and the benefits greatly outweigh the pain of adoption.
So if you’re planning to build or redesign a website, consider composable architecture as your preferred approach.”
Let’s dive into what benefits a composable approach provides.
Power of choice
Master of their trade
Every component in a composable architecture is a choice based on your immediate and future needs. These components are often leaders in their space, offering the best of the best, latest and greatest technology.
Swap out the headless CMS or other systems in the future without too much trouble.
For example, you could have a site with a monolithic CMS where they decide to increase their prices and you could no longer afford the system. Swapping to a different monolithic CMS is quite challenging.
Other examples include a company accruing a bad reputation, getting hacked, or the CEO becoming politically charged.
A composable approach makes integrating other services easier.
It’s harder to expand a monolith’s built-in feature set, and plugins on monolithic CMSs can often slow down your site.
Managing a team
The set of skills in your team of developers can be simplified as you don’t need such a wide variety.
You can hire a team of similarly skilled developers rather than focusing on filling specific requirements.
Hiring and building a team
Developers with specialist knowledge of a monolith are difficult to replace.
Hiring developers with specialist knowledge of a monolith will incur higher hiring costs due to the process taking longer, and developers may need additional training.
Developers aren’t stuck with a skillset designed for working with a specific CMS that is not as transferrable.
With technology moving so fast, having specific knowledge in a CMS will not increase in value over time.
Developers often enjoy being on the forefront of the latest cutting-edge technology.
Higher job security. Imagine a company wants to change their monolithic CMS due to the marketing team requiring more customisation than is currently possible. Some of those developer skills become redundant.
As many companies have made or are making this shift, developer skills have become normalised, transferrable and sought after.
Today, I see that the primary way of accelerating your time to market is investing in these developer workflows.
It’s investing in these tooling and services and I think that’s what’s driving this huge migration to a composable architecture because that’s exactly what that gets. It gives you the flexibility it enables you to set up really fast iterations.”
You don’t have all your eggs in one basket — if your CMS goes down, your site will still function.
If you make an update in the CMS that breaks it, your website will still work.
Quickly scale as large as your business needs and with ease.
Choose (and pay for) parts of the business you want to scale. If you have a spike in user sign-up, you only need to scale the identity provider component.
There is no denying the rise of composable architecture, and it’s here to stay. Not keeping up to date with the latest technology trends may cost more than you think.
Lower maintenance costs
Monolithic CMSs may need ongoing maintenance to keep the system up to date.
There are no servers to manage because composable services are cloud-based. The systems are automatically updated and maintained by the provider. There is less of a need for contracts or continuous maintenance fees where developers need to update and maintain systems.
This cost-saving may just be replaced as services can have monthly fees if you don’t fall into a free tier.
Performance is one of the best benefits of going composable. A faster website means better SEO, which provides more organic traffic. It also means users are happier, which results in a willingness to read your content or buy your products/services, providing more conversions.
Monolithic CMSs slow down websites due to the way they are structured.
As a headless CMS is separate from the front end, developers can make your website static, which is the fastest type of website. They can be hosted on a CDN, enabling your site to be available on servers worldwide, making your website quick to load wherever your users are.
A statically generated site is incredibly efficient, making it better for sustainability.
Monolithic CMSs and Server Side Rendering require computation to build pages on every request. A statically generated site is built once and the files only need to be served, reducing electricity usage and therefore emissions.
...consider using a Static Site Generator in preference to a bulky content management system.
… the emissions benefit comes from the server not having to place as much effort into serving pages (as they are static) for each visitor.”
Separation of concerns means data is spread out. If there is a breach, the damage is reduced.
WordPress is notorious for being hacked — you are open to Malware, Backdoors, Spam, Phishing and Defacements.
These security issues can lead to heavy damages due to loss of time, data, money, brand reputation and client confidence.
The attack vector for a static website is much smaller when combined with a headless CMS over a monolith.
As the site is pre-built, no code is executed server-side, reducing the impact of a back-end vulnerability. Additionally, as most headless CMSs are on the cloud, security patches can be applied immediately and often happen automatically.
For more detail on why a composable architecture provides higher security, check out Threats, Risks, and Security on the Composable Web.
Managing content for your various platforms in a single place allows you to:
- have consistent brand messaging
- avoid content duplication
- deploy content cross-platform
- ensure content is always up to date on any of your platforms
- create personalised customer experiences
- respond with agility to business requirements.
The client receives all of the benefits listed above in some way but here are a few client-specific benefits.
Many websites that use a monolithic CMS are stuck when it comes to flexibility of design. A headless CMS gives free rein on what your front-end solution is. This makes it easier to create bespoke, heavily-designed websites.
Fast time to market
Website launches can come with tight schedules that tie in with a marketing strategy and press releases. Quite often, there is a fixed date when the website must be live.
A composable architecture allows you to prioritise the build and launch of the website initially and then add a CMS or other service later down the line.
What I really see is pushing this [composable] forward is when I talk to businesses and marketing leaders and so on, the biggest challenge they have is time to market.
This is in a world where now most business problems have digital solutions, and so that doesn’t rhyme very well when having IT admins or legacy monoliths making business-critical decisions.”
Company budgets are limited. A single yearly budget may not be able to cover the cost of a new content-managed website they are keen on creating.
A composable approach allows the client to spread the cost by creating their website first and making it content-managed later.
Another cost-saving benefit of a headless CMS is the ability to choose which parts of a website you want to be content-managed.
Most websites have a mix of content that needs changing often such as a News, Blog or Events section and some content that doesn’t change at all. Picking and choosing which parts of a website to make content manageable will save time and reduce costs.
A choice of technology allows you to align these decisions with your current business goals.
For example, your company or your client has very specific security requirements or if your business goals change and your aim is to be more sustainable.
You could choose services that fit those security requirements or choose a hosting provider that has their infrastructure somewhere using renewable energy.
With many companies moving to a composable architecture, there is potential to integrate with a client’s existing technology stack. This provides tighter collaboration and some clients may see you as an extension to their business.
Why choose a monolith?
While we’ve taken a look at composable architecture, there are benefits to a monolith:
- It’s quick to create something off the ground without developer input.
- Monoliths are older and therefore more mature.
- You have a requirement where there are lots of integrations and you don’t have the means to orchestrate them.
- It’s relatively easy to migrate a project to another agency or freelancer specialising in that CMS.
This point is debatable as many agencies are using or have moved to use composable technologies.
- Everything is in one place, so you don’t have to spend time connecting or orchestrating.
- It’s easier to trace errors in a single system.
- You have a development team with extensive knowledge of a specific monolithic CMS.
For example, a small agency that provides WordPress-based websites to local businesses may have difficulty changing their skills.
Monolithic or composable?
Pick what suits you and your client’s needs.
It’s important to consider all aspects of a solution and determine what the impacts are in both the short and long term and across the whole process.
That being said, the mass adoption and continued growth in a wide variety of companies, big and small, is proof that the approach is here to stay.
The combination of a static site generator and headless CMS creates the perfect environment for producing performant, sustainable and accessible websites.
It fosters the creation of a better user experience, tailored high-quality code, refined SEO and a flexible, fast time to market.
- Gartner Keynote: The Future of Business Is Composable
- Gartner Identifies the Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022
- Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022 (YouTube)
- Can Headless/Jamstack Ride The Hype Cycle Across The Chasm?
- Composable Architecture Is The Next Big Thing For Websites
- Modern Commerce: MACH, Jamstack, and the Composable Web
- Headless CMS vs. Traditional CMS
- Monolithic vs Microservices: The pros, cons, and everything else
- Microservices vs. monolithic architecture
- Threats, Risks, and Security on the Composable Web
- MACH alliance
- Web Sustainability Guidelines