Architecture is the art and science of designing and building infrastructure. Choosing the correct eCommerce architecture depends on various factors, including how you want to manage your site over time. Today, eCommerce platforms have three main architectural options: Monoliths, microservices, and modules.
Everything old is new again
Monoliths are large codebases; microservices are small ones. But what if you’re working with a big codebase and want to break it into smaller pieces?
Modules (or “composable platforms”) can help here. You can use these tiny bits of code across your monolith or in other microservices. They come in different flavors: some modules are like Lego blocks, others are like furniture components from IKEA—you have to assemble them yourself before they work together.
Drawbacks of a traditional monolith
- Hard to scale
- Hard to maintain
- Hard to change (without breaking the whole thing)
- Hard to test (and test everything)
- Hard to deploy (and too many servers if you want more than one version running simultaneously)
- Hard to deploy new features (it’s a monolith, so it’s hard for developers)
- Easy-to-rollback changes are impossible in a monolith architecture; if you don’t get it right the first time, you’re stuck with your incorrect decision for years.
Microservices are trendy, but they come with their problems
Microservices are a way of breaking up an extensive application into smaller parts. Each part is a microservice, and each microservice is a self-contained unit that can be deployed independently. Each microservice has its API, which means it’s loosely coupled to the other services in your architecture.
The problem is that as you scale out your architecture, it’s more difficult for new developers to come on board. They won’t be able to quickly jump from one service to another because they might not understand the domain model completely. They may need additional training on how the various parts interact (and what interfaces they should expect). As new hires ramp up their skills, this will inevitably lead to slower onboarding times and higher costs.
Modularity solves the scalability challenges of both monoliths and microservices
It does this by enabling you to build a scalable, maintainable, flexible, cost-effective, secure, and fast deployable architecture.
We learned that true scalability is about the ability of your application to be deployed and scaled across multiple nodes and not just about how many services you can run on a single host. You need to leverage concepts like partitioning and service-level isolation to achieve this scalability. It would help if you also minimized dependencies by limiting direct communication between services and using libraries instead.
Microservices solve these challenges (and more). Still, they do so at the cost of increased complexity, operational overhead, and lost productivity, thanks to the lack of availability for some Java EE APIs and concerns about long-term vendor support. With modularity, you can get all of these same benefits without giving up any of the productivity gains that Java EE offers; in fact, modularity opens up new opportunities that are impossible with microservices.
The advantages of a modular approach to eCommerce architecture
The advantages of a modular approach to eCommerce architecture are many. Modular eCommerce architecture allows you to build and scale your site quickly, cheaply, and efficiently and support agile development teams. The best of both worlds combines the simplicity of monolithic architectures with the flexibility of microservice architectures.
A modular approach enables you to break down your application into smaller components that can be scaled independently from one another – this is great for scaling up or down when traffic and demand fluctuate while also making it much easier to create new features without impacting existing functionality (because they’re not coupled together).
Factors to consider when choosing eCommerce architecture
Scalability is the ability of a system or application to grow with changing demands. Scalable architecture allows you to add new functionality and scale up when demand increases quickly.
The most common approach for scaling an eCommerce site is through horizontal scaling.
Each server in your architecture can be scaled horizontally by adding more servers of the same type. This approach works well if you’re storing data that doesn’t change often and can accommodate more load without changing its structure (for example, adding more database servers).
The first thing to consider when choosing your eCommerce architecture is security.
It’s a top priority for the business and the systems that support it, too.
As a result, the best eCommerce architectures are designed with security in mind from the beginning and throughout every phase of their development lifecycle.
Before making your decision, you have to consider the costs of choosing an eCommerce architecture. You will need to factor in all of the following:
- The cost of the software, support, and maintenance
- The infrastructure required for the platform (e.g., servers)
- The website design and development team
- The integration with third-party services such as payment gateways or logistics providers
- Testing before launch (internal and external testing)
Flexible architecture is an important consideration when choosing your eCommerce architecture. To ensure your store remains competitive, it’s crucial that you build a flexible platform that can adapt to new technologies and changing consumer demands.
The concept of flexibility is closely related to the evolution of technology and consumer expectations — if you have a static system that cannot adapt over time, then there’s no way for your business to evolve with these changes.
One example of how this concept can be applied in practice is with software development trends. While there are many different ways to code applications or websites (e.g., using PHP vs. Ruby on Rails), the key is finding the right balance between agility and stability to create something which works for both now as well as later down the line when changes become necessary due either external factors such as competition from other companies entering into similar markets or internal factors like introducing new products into existing lines which means requiring additional resources from developers who may not always be available 24/7 due personal commitments such as vacations or family events outside work hours.
Integration and automation
Automation is a big deal. It reduces costs, increases efficiency, improves customer experience and security, improves scalability, and improves integration and data quality.
Various methods can achieve automation:
- API management tools allow you to manage web services with a single pane of glass.
- Orchestration tools address the execution of code across multiple servers in an organization.
- Continuous delivery tools (such as Jenkins) support constant integration processes.
- Containerization technologies (such as Docker) provide standardized environments for applications.
You might be wondering, if the eCommerce platform and architecture are so important, why are they not the first things you should consider?
The reason is simple: Without a good product, your business will fail. No one will buy from you regardless of how great your website looks or how easy it is to use unless you have a great product that people want and need. So don’t worry too much about choosing an eCommerce platform or architecture at first—focus on ensuring that all of your products are well-designed and sellable.
You want your business to succeed, and choosing the exemplary eCommerce architecture is an important step. It’s critical to do your research and make sure you choose the best option for you.
Modularity offers the best of monoliths, microservices, and modules.
Modularity offers the best of monoliths, microservices, and modules. With modularity, you can:
- Easily add new features to your eCommerce platform without having to rewrite old ones or change the architecture of your system.
- Improve performance by optimizing individual code pieces without modifying the whole system.
- Scale each piece independently of others to improve performance as traffic increases, making it easier for developers to scale up or down their software when needed quickly.
Align eCommerce architecture to your goals
- Define your goals before you start.
- Don’t worry about what other people’s goals are.
- Be ambitious, but stay realistic.
We can’t promise you a simple answer if you’re seeking a concrete recommendation on which architecture is best for your company. There are too many variables to consider—specific business goals, regulatory constraints, product life cycles, and more. However, if we were to sum up all these thoughts in one sentence, it would be this: the architecture that works best for your company is the one that allows you to achieve those goals most effectively.