An emerging paradigm in the field of application architectures is the composable enterprise. The definition comes from Gartner and identifies an organization capable of adapting to the changing pace of the market, dynamically combining the different business functions developed independently.

The composable enterprise paradigm responds to the need of companies to quickly create secure software, so that enterprises can build new applications as needed, through the combination of different features.

A fundamental element for the implementation of the composable enterprise is the adoption of a complete API strategy, according to the API economy paradigm.

The primary goal of a company is certainly the ability to reorganize activities following market demands. Companies need to rapidly and dynamically innovate processes and functions to keep up with the frequent evolutions and changes.
The ICT architecture must be flexible and agile, ready to meet new business needs in real time and to quickly integrate with third-party applications, to better seize business opportunities.

Gartner believes in the Composable Enterprise

Gartner, former creator of the Digital Integration Hub architectural paradigm, describes enterprises as composable indicating the simplicity of breaking down and reassembling themselves according to the needs of the moment, adding new elements or eliminating components where necessary.

The topic is analyzed in the white paper "Future of Applications: Delivering the Composable Enterprise" (accessible to Gartner customers). The document regards the architectural development which involves the combination of Packaged Business Capabilities (PBC) exposed through standardized web interfaces.
In this way, individual features can be rapidly developed, combined or discontinued, without compromising stability and optimizing the use of resources. Components can be either developed internally or purchased externally. Each component lives exclusively on its needs: it accesses data through APIs and makes its events available to the overall infrastructure.

As business needs change, organizations need to be able to deliver innovation quickly and dynamically adapt applications by reassembling functionality.

The characteristics of PBCs

Looking more closely at PBCs, some essential characteristics can be described simply and effectively. For example, these components:

    • can be developed internally or externally, and combined as needed;
    • are structured to interact with APIs and events;
    • can be articulated on customizable applications according to needs;
    • do not require specific execution environments.

The independence of the execution environment, whether it is on premise or (a type of) cloud, is a focal point for medium to large companies.
In addition, a modular architecture allows you to integrate new components made with any technology, thanks to the characteristics of standardization and flexibility.

Towards the Composable Enterprise

Almost all large companies are now well advanced in the modernization of processes and services on this topic, and they are ready to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the rapid changes on the market. The transformation towards the creation of a real Composable Enterprise must be addressed gradually. Some of the steps to be taken are well known in modern companies. The evolution of the application architecture with DevOps and DevSecOps approaches simplifies the development of new features with microservices, containers and APIs, basic elements of the PBC model.

If there are monolithic applications, an assessment of their structure is necessary to establish a specific modernization plan. From static and not very adaptable, the monoliths - even just parts of them - can become modular applications, absolutely suitable for the composable enterprise.

How to correctly address the digital transformation

Business changes follow patterns of increasing variability. Companies must support the business with an application architecture that extracts the best from what has been developed so far, inserting it into a model of continuous digital transformation. The paradigm that best describes the point of arrival is the composable enterprise.

Developing services with a clear understanding of the concept of packaged business capabilities allows you to fully enjoy the benefits of flexibility and operational speed, delivering optimal application performance and with net savings, given the correct use of planned resources. 

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