What is Composability?

Composability is a design principle that allows systems to be assembled from smaller, independent components. This makes it easier to create new systems by combining existing components

The main objective of composability is to make the user experience seamless by having workflows jump between applications without requiring the user to manually travel between apps—taking an entire tech stack and making it a singular, fluid work environment. 

Composability removes the need to deploy and oversee separate workload-specific environments. The very nature of this software methodology allows companies to create and reconfigure systems without having to move physical assets. Based on the various workload needs of an application, companies can set up computing, storage, and networking resources on-demand. 

Composability benefits & challenges

There are a number of benefits to composability, including:

    • Increased flexibility: Composability makes it easier to change or update systems.
    • Reduced complexity: Composability can simplify the design and implementation of systems.
    • Improved reuse: Composable components can be reused in multiple systems.
    • Increased scalability: Composability can make it easier to scale systems.


There are a number of challenges to composability, including:

    • Designing for composability: It can be difficult to design systems that are composable.
    • Managing complexity: Composability can add complexity to systems.
    • Ensuring compatibility: Composable components must be compatible with each other.
    • Testing: Composability can make it more difficult to test systems.

Overall, composability is a powerful design principle that can improve the flexibility, scalability, and reuse of systems. However, it is important to design for composability and to manage the challenges that it can introduce.

The Building Blocks & Principles of Composability

At the Gartner IT Symposium/XPO in October of 2020, distinguished research vice president and Gartner fellow, Tina Nunno, addressed the core foundations of composability. “During the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, most CIOs leveraged their organizations’ existing digital investments, and some CIOs accelerated their digital strategies by investing in some of the three composable building blocks.” 

The 3 building blocks of composable business are: 

  • Composable Thinking – Design principles that guide an organization’s approach to conceptualizing what to compose and when. This block prevents you from losing your creativity.
  • Composable Business Architecture – Dynamic structural capabilities that help your organization so it can be flexible and resilient.
  • Composable Technologies – Each and every tool as well as what connects between them.

“To ensure their organizations were resilient, many CIOs also applied at least one of the four critical principles of composability, gaining more speed through discovery, greater agility through modularity, better leadership through orchestration, and resilience through autonomy.”

Nunno also explained that, “To ensure their organizations were resilient, many CIOs also applied at least one of the four critical principles of composability, gaining more speed through discovery, greater agility through modularity, better leadership through orchestration, and resilience through autonomy.”

The concept of composability might not be new for CIOs, considering it exists in technology from APIs to containers. However, the application of composable business may be unfamiliar. Composability in business means setting up an organization in a modular way so it can reorient and rearrange as needed. 

Composable business necessitates a fundamental change in business thinking, technology, and architecture. By following the building blocks and principles of composability, businesses can quickly pivot—whether it be to a new opportunity, industry, customer base, or revenue stream—in times of disruption.

Composability vs. Marketplace Disruption

The COVID-19 pandemic has made an impact on all businesses in one way or another, and this disruption will likely continue for an indefinite period of time. Gartner reports that composability can make enterprises more resilient and sustainable.

Composable businesses can make the most of these digital disruptions by leveraging modularity. This means mixing and matching business functions to produce the desired outcomes. 

Daryl Plummer, distinguished research vice president, Chief of Research, and Gartner fellow, says, “Composable business is a natural acceleration of the digital business that organizations live every day. It allows organizations to finally deliver the resilience and agility that these interesting times demand.”

There are many opportunities to implement the principles of composability — look for them and take advantage. Whether it’s geopolitical (like a pandemic or recession) or societal, such as consumer attitude changes. CIOs must be able to recognize the need for immediate change in their organization; if the company cannot adapt, it could result in the failure of the business. 

The Significance of Composability

Companies are constantly being forced to innovate, adapt, and evolve in the ever-changing digital landscape. Often, this means doing more with less, working fast, and doing so as cheaply as possible. 

Composability means businesses can pivot quickly. It helps organizations achieve digital acceleration, be more resilient, and innovate during times of disruption. 

The more integrated the principles and building blocks of composability are in your business, the more flexibility and agility your organization will have. Ultimately, that means more consistent execution and faster response times. 

Composability also makes on-premises platforms more agile and cost-effective — for those enterprises that are already heavily invested in them. It makes for more painless and efficient operations by bringing all resources (storage, network, and computational) together into a single user interface. For systems that can only be accessed on-prem and have a variety of modules, composability is beneficial in that it simplifies and aggregates the most relevant workflows for the users into one seamless experience.

Composable Infrastructure

Composable infrastructure is an approach to provisioning and managing physical and virtual assets, finding new ways to allocate and combine resources in a more cost-effective way.

Here are a few examples of its efficiency:

  • Little to no license overuse or over-purchasing due to the flexible nature of the platforms
  • Simplified workflows that expedite time-to-competency and daily performance
  • Increased accessibility 

Think: A system that lets you access the apps you regularly use all in one user interface.

Composable infrastructure allows computational, storage, and networking resources to be freed from their physical locations and managed by software via a web-based interface. It makes data center resources as accessible as cloud services.

In fact, many enterprise data centers are adopting composability as it offers the cheapest and most efficient means by which to provide an experience similar to the cloud, on-premises. Its flexibility means departments can deploy any workload with the agility and speed of the cloud. Resources can be configured with just a few clicks and reallocated on-demand, based on workflow and business needs. The deployment of apps can be automated and orchestrated like it can with the cloud. You can keep costs low because you can subscribe to the “pay-as-you-grow” model, while maintenance and updates are automated.

Modern IT teams must be able to rapidly accommodate ever-changing business demands, and this involves being agile and operating at a high velocity so they can introduce new products and services to the market. This infrastructure offers a fluid set of resources that can be combined to meet the needs of any application, making it possible to do just that. 

Benefits & Importance of Composable Infrastructure 

Being able to support the requirements of both legacy and next-generation apps allows for the consolidation of IT resources, as well as reduced operational costs and complexity. 

Enterprises can integrate and manage infrastructure components through a single, unified API with composable infrastructure. It also allows for a flexible network which is critical for the modern data center.

There are many other benefits of composable infrastructure, including: 

  • Infrastructure that can be provisioned on the fly 
  • Pooling resources reduces underutilization and overprovisioning
  • A more agile, cost-effective data center 
  • A unified management interface 
  • Configuration of infrastructure in real-time
  • Critical legacy apps can remain on-premises, if needed
  • The ability to scale with the business 

While all of these benefits should be reason enough to consider composable infrastructure, there are a few particular elements that can really add value to your organization. 

1. It provisions on demand.

Using a single, unified API, businesses can instantly and dynamically provision software. Changes can be made based on a given application or system workload. 

The infrastructure is more flexible and therefore more responsive to the needs of an organization. Resources can be reconfigured on the fly, and this means apps and services are delivered at an accelerated rate. 

2. It runs anywhere.

With composability, your infrastructure isn’t limited to one computing technology or concept. It can be operated on virtual machines or cloud-native applications. 

Technologies can be applied based on your business’s unique needs, whether it’s virtualization or hybrid cloud — or both! 

Traditional on-prem infrastructure has physical limitations, requiring the addition of physical servers to scale and the build-out of silos for different workloads (which increase cost and complexity). Composable infrastructure, on the other hand, provides a fluid set of resources that can be combined for the unique needs of any app.

3. It’s smarter. 

Composable infrastructure uses intelligent software, making it smarter than the average infrastructure. A composable system can discover available resources and detect errors and issues with configuration. On top of that, it offers solutions to these problems. 

4. It’s more scalable and cost-effective. 

Since you can add and remove resources as required, it makes it very easy to scale. The use of the platforms can be increased at a customizable rate, so the infrastructure can grow as the business expands. 

Your pools of composable resources can be as minimal or extensive as you need them to be. You can deploy components in an incremental fashion to familiarize your team with the technology at a pace that suits the capabilities of the organization while tracking metrics. As the company hopefully grows, you can expand your composable toolkit over time.

You can also save money on licensing and usage fees. A business only needs to purchase licenses for the apps it needs at any given time, and they can adjust their costs based on usage. For example, if there are times of the year or office locations that won’t require certain apps or functionality, this can be reflected in the rate—you pay for what you use.

Additionally, the ability to combine workflows across applications into one fluid process saves time and money. It saves end-users’ time and reduces their frustration by streamlining the process. 

Frequently asked questions

  • What is composable user experience?
    A composable user experience is an experience with swift, sustainable differentiation that delivers optimum agility and resilience. It also allows every layer of the digital business to achieve better outcomes in an environment of increasing uncertainty and change. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 50% of all companies will have failed to unify their engagement channels, leading to a fragmented user experience.
  • What is composable design?
    Composable design, or composable architecture, is an efficient way to create software systems composed of freely interchangeable components. These modules work together seamlessly to form a unified whole system. With this approach, developers can build more robust and reliable applications quickly and efficiently.

Updated: April 30, 2023

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