If you work in technology, you’ve probably heard about microservices and composable applications and their importance to software development and digital transformation in today’s hyper-connected landscape.
More than that, with the growth in the use of composable architectures and Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs) for building applications—and the prediction that 30% of digital commerce organizations will use PBCs to develop their application experiences by 20241—these terms are being used more than ever before.
Edge Computing: Use Case for Microservices and Composable Applications
Questions always come back regarding composable applications and microservices’ relevance to edge computing applications. While processing the data at the edge, edge computing makes infrastructure more agile and business-centric.
It improves the efficiency and effectiveness of how budget and resources are allocated, simplifying and lowering the cost of managing IT infrastructure in the process.
One of the ways for edge computing to enable this IT efficiency is through leveraging the composable architecture built using composable applications and microservices. A truly plug-and-play modular platform where different modules can be reconfigured or reassembled quickly to create new applications for edge-centric architecture.
Using composable applications and microservices, edge computing can enable powerful business and service-centric applications for the composable enterprise for business agility and efficiency.
As we’re talking about the efficiency of composable architecture with microservices and composable applications at the edge, let’s take a closer look at these technologies and how they compare to legacy monolithic architecture.
How Do Microservices and Composable Applications Compare With the Legacy Monolithic Architecture?
Both composable applications and microservices have the same goal: use a modular approach instead of a monolithic approach to application building.
In turn, if we think about the concepts of these terms, we can identify a distinction.
But before we talk about that and how these technologies are more modern than monolithic applications, let’s deepen our reflection on the points they converge.
What Are the Similarities Between Microservices and Composable Applications?
As mentioned, microservices and composable applications are similar ideas with the shared objective of developing scalable and modular software systems.
Furthermore, these two approaches also share benefits.
The first is that both composable applications and microservices provide greater flexibility.
In practice, what do they do for development teams? For example, microservices and composable applications allow you to create new applications faster in a modular and reusable way.
Another reason is that the two technologies improve the hands-on of technology teams and make software development more agile, adaptable, and scalable—and for this reason, they’re also critical elements for the business agility business model.
In addition, they allow the creation of new functionalities independently, a significant advance for digital companies concerning the modernization of their applications and legacy monolithic architectures.
Now we come to another point that may be questionable: How do microservices and composable applications differ from monolithic applications? Let’s see as follows.
What Are the Differences Between Monolithic Architecture and Microservices?
In contrast to the monolithic architecture, microservices consist of many independent components, each performing a single task, such as billing or shipping. Instead of tight couplings, microservices are more spaced out and interact with each other via APIs.
Check out the Monolithic Applications vs. Microservices article to know more about this topic.
What Are the Differences Between Monolithic Applications and Composable Applications?
Composable applications differ from monolithic applications because they’re built and implemented as single units with little distinction between their components and tightly coupled processes.
That is, if any problem occurs with a monolithic application, the entire process is affected. On the other side, it doesn’t happen with a composable application.
All this leads to PBCs (Packaged Business Capabilities) and building blocks in an in-depth explanation of composable applications. To know more, check out the blog Composable applications: what they are and why you need them.
In short, instead of having one monolithic application, both microservices and composable applications are breaking it down into smaller pieces.
The Difference Between Microservices and Composable Applications
Now that we understand microservices and composable applications better, a question might arise: Is there a difference between them? From a conceptual point of view, yes, there is.
Microservices are an architectural approach to building software systems as a collection of small, independent services that communicate with each other through APIs.
Each microservice is designed to perform a specific business function and can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently of other services. Microservices are often used to build large, complex applications comprising many smaller, interconnected parts.
On the other hand, composable applications are software systems built using a collection of loosely coupled components that can be assembled and reassembled to create different applications. These components can be microservices, but they can also be other types of modular components such as functions, libraries, or modules.
In some ways, microservices help to build composable applications—but it doesn’t have to be.
If you think about composable applications, you may think, “I’m going to develop an application with ten different kinds of services. One option is to write all the services from scratch, but I don’t want to do that. I want to compose it because someone else has written an application. So I just need to put all the pieces together like a Lego block and then build a composable application.
The key difference is conceptual, a theoretical issue since microservices are a specific architectural approach to building software systems. At the same time, composable applications are a broader concept encompassing various approaches to creating modular and scalable software systems.
In essence, microservices are one component that can be used in composable applications. A composable application may be built using microservices but may include other parts.
How Do Microservices and Composable Applications Fit Into the MACH Architecture?
Talking about microservices and composable applications leads us to another topic: MACH architecture.
MACH is an acronym that stands for four technologies:
Microservices-based: the opposite of legacy monolithic architecture, where all components are merged into one codebase.
API-first: enables software to communicate with other solutions via APIs.
Cloud-native SaaS: built initially in the cloud and leverages the full potential of cloud computing, including storage, unlimited scalability, and automatic updates.
Headless: based on the separation of the front-end layer from the back-end. It allows freedom in user interface design and fast updates.
In this sense, we can’t ignore that, as global businesses increasingly consider switching from the monolithic tech stack to the best-in-class composable stack that promotes higher business agility, microservices and composable applications plays a significant role in MACH architecture and the development of modern technology.
As MACH is a rich topic in itself, we’ll explore it in another blog post.
Why Is Edge Computing Well-Suited for MACH?
The edge is becoming an essential part of the MACH acronym as companies recognize its benefits over the cloud.
By using edge computing, businesses can increase security, reduce latency, and increase scalability. As such, edge computing is quickly becoming the preferred choice for many applications.
The edge—like Azion’s—provides the ability to process data quickly, as it takes advantage of local storage, lower latency, and increased privacy compared to the cloud. This means applications can be developed quickly without the delays and costs associated with a cloud-based solution.
Additionally, it eliminates the need for costly and complex integration with the cloud, allowing for quicker deployment and lower maintenance costs.
Furthermore, it provides a secure way to store sensitive data since it stays within the local network as opposed to in the cloud.
It combines small-scale units of compute resources from various sources, allowing the quick creation of new services and configurations while still accommodating large-scale user demand.
By understanding the benefits that edge computing offers, businesses can leverage this technology to take their MACH architecture to the next level.
In essence, both microservices and composable applications are necessary building blocks for edge computing driving new business models; basically, they’re all in the same realm, the same domain of how we can quickly compose applications in a modular way that is easy to create modular and scalable software systems for enterprise agility and resilience while minimizing cost and maximizing efficiency.
Simply put, flexibility, time-to-value, and time-to-market offered by composable applications and microservices for edge computing architecture are fundamental for digital transformation.
And regarding the differences between microservices and composable applications, what are your thoughts? Is there a greater distinction between them?
Tell us in the comments section below.
1 Composable Commerce Must Be Adopted for the Future of Applications (Gartner)