There are a lot of emerging buzzwords in the commercial sector as regards technology. Among them is packaged business capabilities, also known as PBCs. While most technical teams are familiar with microservices, many are still unfamiliar with PBCs. So, what are PBCs? Are they the same as microservices? How do PBCs relate to other architecture patterns or microservices?
This article delivers an in-depth analysis and responses to the stated questions. Also, it places PBCs among the latest architecture terminologies.
What Exactly are Packaged Business Capabilities?
Packaged business capabilities are a section of the composable commerce approach. They are used to build best-of-breed commerce services or applications. Gartner defines PBCs as software elements representing a well-structured business capability functionally identifiable by the business user. In simple terms, PBCs are groupings made up of APIs, event channels, data schema, and a series of services. Each PBC serves a particular business capability.
Well-executed packaged business capabilities are functionally independent and complete, ensuring autonomy. Therefore, they neither have any critical external dependencies nor do they need direct external access to their data. Simply put, PBCs are designed as the building blocks for custom-built application experiences and application product suites.
Example of a PBC
A virtual shopping cart within a company’s e-commerce system is a PBC. This shopping cart utilizes checkout, pricing, and catalog functions to fulfill a purchase, while the customer only interacts with the cart’s user interface (UI).
Another example is where a PBC manages the customers and their accounts. This PBC will use a set of microservices to:
- Manage customer service requests
- Configure customer roles
- Collect contact information
Importance of PBCs
There are several benefits associated with packaged business capabilities, including:
Minimized Complexity for the Company
If implemented correctly, PBCs can do a lot for your business. They can significantly minimize the number of interfaces through which customers and employees interact and cut down the cost. Working with lesser interfaces implies that it’s easier for your team to navigate your services and website. They have fewer user interfaces to navigate, so it’s easy to master them.
Smoothened Go-to-Market for the Service Provider
Another benefit is that packaged business capabilities use a unifying API to easily bring services together. The result is limited back-end management and streamlined workflows. Since you only work with a single interface, you have more time to automate your business processes and unify your data for even more streamlined operations.
Packaged Business Capabilities Vs. Microservices
PBCs and microservices are often confused. While these two elements share common features, they are not the same. Microservices are small, autonomous services that work collaboratively to achieve a specific purpose. On the other hand, PBCs are like tailored combinations of multiple microservices. Simply put, these microservices work together to execute the broader responsibility of the PBC.
For instance, PBCs contain application services. On the contrary, microservices are used to construct and build an application.
The key to developing a relationship between these PBCs and microservices is to note that PBCs are the building blocks for suites or applications. On the other hand, microservices are architectural styles that determine how you break down the app into services. Also, you can think of PBCs as aggregations of microservices.
So, what’s the deal breaker?
Building on-premise or cloud solutions with hundreds of microservices will be costly, time-consuming, and difficult. Each service will be delivered through a different vendor, so end-users must be experienced in various user interfaces (UIs) within a single commerce platform. So, it’s certainly not a feasible option.
On the contrary, PBCs minimize complexity by easing the development and deployment of the application. Also, personnel training is faster because minimal UIs are necessary, unlike with microservices. Furthermore, PBCs allow you to upgrade and amend changes more efficiently than microservices.
What’s the Right Size for Packaged Business Capabilities?
The size of PBCs from one app to another. Therefore, the vendor should determine the PBC size based on how the customers use the application. But here are some considerations to put in mind.
- Go for small PBCs if there is no use-case or business user that would require the PBC separately from the rest PBCs. For instance, no one will use eligibility criteria without catalog master information management.
- Consider a large PBC when consumers consume separate parts or microservices rather than the whole PBC. For instance, if your inventory system isn’t regularly used and replaced with a third-party service, you should split it into a different PBC.
- A right-sized PBC is one that customers can quickly define what they expect from it and instantly link to your business domain. For instance, every user should know what the catalog is about.
Package Business Capabilities for Composable Commerce
PBCs are independently deployable and scalable. They match the modularity element of composable commerce. When your business focuses on the value of its modular components, relying on PBCs is advantageous over developing an app with a series of granular microservices.
Some of the benefits include:
Packaged business capabilities allow you to develop more user-friendly dashboards and administrator tools. It’s more practical to build UIs for various business capabilities, such as catalog, payments and checkout, accounts, and inventory.
PBCs are simpler to establish and maintain. This is because a series of APIs with a single PBC are deployed and executed as one unit. Therefore, updating and integrating new elements does not need significant change management.
Composable architecture lets business teams participate in the development and deployment of new features and experiences. The elements and their functions in the business are easier to identify. Therefore, both IT and business teams can engage in the development of the application roadmap.
Can a Monolith App Be a PBC?
Yes. If an application scope is minute and consumed as a whole or is virtually indivisible by the user, it can be considered a PBC. For instance, a payment gateway with multiple APIs can be considered a PBC.
Packaged business capabilities (PBCs) are services or apps built around a specific business function. They are standalone and completely autonomous. Also, they form the building blocks for larger application suites, all of which are connected through APIs. If well-implemented, PBCs can simplify the development process.