Decoupling your shop: Pied Piper style.

Decoupling your shop: Pied Piper style.

Decoupling your shop: Pied Piper style.

Decoupling your shop: Pied Piper style.

Author

Jamie Maria Schouren

Co-founder & CCO

Category
Educational

Date

Oct 13, 2018

Author

Jamie Maria Schouren

Co-founder & CCO

Category
Educational

Date

Oct 13, 2018

Author

Jamie Maria Schouren

Co-founder & CCO

Category
Educational

Date

Oct 13, 2018

Introduction

Decoupling your store - How the idea of Richard Hendricks’ Pied Piper can save the world of eCommerce in real life.

Everyone who has seen HBO’s Silicon Valley knows about Richard Hendricks and the Pied Piper (yes, they have an actual website!) groups ambition to create a new internet that cuts out fictional ‘big brother’ Hooli; or in real life giants like Google, Amazon, telecommunications giants, and Facebook. Their idea is, in basic, simple: use a peer-to-peer network built atop of every smart device on the planet, such as phones and even smart fridges. With that, making huge data centers full of servers obsolete.

The Pied Piper team

“If we could do it, we could build a completely decentralized version of our current internet,” Hendricks says. “With no firewalls, no tolls, no government regulation, no spying, information would be totally free in every sense of the word.”

Some might argue that the main internet is already a decentralized network that no one owns. In theory, this is true. In practice, however, a small number of enormous companies control much of the internet. Anyone can publish what they want on the internet. But without Google, Twitter, or Facebook, nobody would see it or find it. Amazon does not just own the web’s biggest online store, but also a cloud computing service so large and important that when part of it went down briefly in 2017, the internet itself seemed to go down. The same happened when hackers attacked a company called Dyn, now owned by Oracle, in 2016. Large parts of the internet came crashing down.

Not just companies owning servers can be seen as ‘owners’ of the internet. A handful of telecommunications giants, like Verizon, Vodafone, and AT&T control the market for internet access. They have the technical capability to block users from accessing particular content, sites, or apps. In some countries, even a state-owned telco controls internet access completely for all its inhabitants.

Mr. Robot is a series about a young, anti-social computer programmer Elliot working as a cybersecurity engineer during the day, but at night, he is a vigilante hacker. His task is to help bring down corporate America and take down the heads of multinational companies that he believes are running — and ruining — the world.

Introduction

Decoupling your store - How the idea of Richard Hendricks’ Pied Piper can save the world of eCommerce in real life.

Everyone who has seen HBO’s Silicon Valley knows about Richard Hendricks and the Pied Piper (yes, they have an actual website!) groups ambition to create a new internet that cuts out fictional ‘big brother’ Hooli; or in real life giants like Google, Amazon, telecommunications giants, and Facebook. Their idea is, in basic, simple: use a peer-to-peer network built atop of every smart device on the planet, such as phones and even smart fridges. With that, making huge data centers full of servers obsolete.

The Pied Piper team

“If we could do it, we could build a completely decentralized version of our current internet,” Hendricks says. “With no firewalls, no tolls, no government regulation, no spying, information would be totally free in every sense of the word.”

Some might argue that the main internet is already a decentralized network that no one owns. In theory, this is true. In practice, however, a small number of enormous companies control much of the internet. Anyone can publish what they want on the internet. But without Google, Twitter, or Facebook, nobody would see it or find it. Amazon does not just own the web’s biggest online store, but also a cloud computing service so large and important that when part of it went down briefly in 2017, the internet itself seemed to go down. The same happened when hackers attacked a company called Dyn, now owned by Oracle, in 2016. Large parts of the internet came crashing down.

Not just companies owning servers can be seen as ‘owners’ of the internet. A handful of telecommunications giants, like Verizon, Vodafone, and AT&T control the market for internet access. They have the technical capability to block users from accessing particular content, sites, or apps. In some countries, even a state-owned telco controls internet access completely for all its inhabitants.

Mr. Robot is a series about a young, anti-social computer programmer Elliot working as a cybersecurity engineer during the day, but at night, he is a vigilante hacker. His task is to help bring down corporate America and take down the heads of multinational companies that he believes are running — and ruining — the world.

Introduction

Decoupling your store - How the idea of Richard Hendricks’ Pied Piper can save the world of eCommerce in real life.

Everyone who has seen HBO’s Silicon Valley knows about Richard Hendricks and the Pied Piper (yes, they have an actual website!) groups ambition to create a new internet that cuts out fictional ‘big brother’ Hooli; or in real life giants like Google, Amazon, telecommunications giants, and Facebook. Their idea is, in basic, simple: use a peer-to-peer network built atop of every smart device on the planet, such as phones and even smart fridges. With that, making huge data centers full of servers obsolete.

The Pied Piper team

“If we could do it, we could build a completely decentralized version of our current internet,” Hendricks says. “With no firewalls, no tolls, no government regulation, no spying, information would be totally free in every sense of the word.”

Some might argue that the main internet is already a decentralized network that no one owns. In theory, this is true. In practice, however, a small number of enormous companies control much of the internet. Anyone can publish what they want on the internet. But without Google, Twitter, or Facebook, nobody would see it or find it. Amazon does not just own the web’s biggest online store, but also a cloud computing service so large and important that when part of it went down briefly in 2017, the internet itself seemed to go down. The same happened when hackers attacked a company called Dyn, now owned by Oracle, in 2016. Large parts of the internet came crashing down.

Not just companies owning servers can be seen as ‘owners’ of the internet. A handful of telecommunications giants, like Verizon, Vodafone, and AT&T control the market for internet access. They have the technical capability to block users from accessing particular content, sites, or apps. In some countries, even a state-owned telco controls internet access completely for all its inhabitants.

Mr. Robot is a series about a young, anti-social computer programmer Elliot working as a cybersecurity engineer during the day, but at night, he is a vigilante hacker. His task is to help bring down corporate America and take down the heads of multinational companies that he believes are running — and ruining — the world.

Monolithic Architecture

Comparing this to the world of eCommerce, it is basically dominated by big giants as well. For both, the way they do business is the way their software is built. Besides shops like Amazon and Zalando, that write their own software basically from scratch, the majority of shops in the world are running on (self) hosted platforms like Magento — recently acquired by Adobe — Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or Demandware. These platforms are, in some cases, open-source, but all built with a monolithic architecture. Meaning all functionally distinguishable aspects are all interwoven, rather than containing architecturally separate components.

Such structures are robust blocks and prevent easy scaling, extensibility, and make merchants dependent on the platform. Whatever this platform chooses to do or become, you either go with it or go down. The same as the internet: when the software goes down, everything goes down. An error in one simple functionality can take down the entire shop.

When talking about optimizing eCommerce, most talk a lot about customer experience, conversion optimizations, and usability. Many of these optimizations come with the innovation of services: advanced search and product features, ship to store, real-time stock information and alternatives, a wide selection of payment methods, etc. At the same time, growing retailers launch new storefronts for international customers or serve new market segments. They expand their assortment by introducing worldwide drop shipments. And multi-store retailers merge their online and offline stores in one system, and so on.

However, many retailers discover very soon that it is not that easy to evolve their business as fast as they would like. These monolithic, legacy, and even dinosaurs, architectures prevent online retailers from implementing cutting edge experiences, customer service, and functionalities that customers are expecting.

Monolithic Architecture

Comparing this to the world of eCommerce, it is basically dominated by big giants as well. For both, the way they do business is the way their software is built. Besides shops like Amazon and Zalando, that write their own software basically from scratch, the majority of shops in the world are running on (self) hosted platforms like Magento — recently acquired by Adobe — Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or Demandware. These platforms are, in some cases, open-source, but all built with a monolithic architecture. Meaning all functionally distinguishable aspects are all interwoven, rather than containing architecturally separate components.

Such structures are robust blocks and prevent easy scaling, extensibility, and make merchants dependent on the platform. Whatever this platform chooses to do or become, you either go with it or go down. The same as the internet: when the software goes down, everything goes down. An error in one simple functionality can take down the entire shop.

When talking about optimizing eCommerce, most talk a lot about customer experience, conversion optimizations, and usability. Many of these optimizations come with the innovation of services: advanced search and product features, ship to store, real-time stock information and alternatives, a wide selection of payment methods, etc. At the same time, growing retailers launch new storefronts for international customers or serve new market segments. They expand their assortment by introducing worldwide drop shipments. And multi-store retailers merge their online and offline stores in one system, and so on.

However, many retailers discover very soon that it is not that easy to evolve their business as fast as they would like. These monolithic, legacy, and even dinosaurs, architectures prevent online retailers from implementing cutting edge experiences, customer service, and functionalities that customers are expecting.

Decentralizing and decoupling the platform

To expand and continue growth, most retailers, who started with one of the big platforms, start to update the platform several times. Each time patching new functionalities on top of what has already been built. They are stuck with hacked integrations and systems that are hard to replace or even extend. All services, like order management, storefronts, and customer and inventory management are so tightly coupled. It is nearly impossible to switch from one system to another without affecting other services. Other problems include the duplication of data, no consistency, and no master point of data.

Replacing such systems in a traditional way is too expensive, complicated, and could take years, causing many retailers to get stuck in their growth, while competitors forge ahead.

Basically, for these retailers, the only solution besides starting your own software from scratch is doing what Hendricks and his Pied Piper team are trying to do: decentralizing and decoupling the platform. Cutting out the major middleman, getting rid of the single-platform dependency, building services independently, and connecting them all as a kind of peer-to-peer network. In IT terms, we are talking about switching the monolithic architecture to a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

Decentralizing and decoupling the platform

To expand and continue growth, most retailers, who started with one of the big platforms, start to update the platform several times. Each time patching new functionalities on top of what has already been built. They are stuck with hacked integrations and systems that are hard to replace or even extend. All services, like order management, storefronts, and customer and inventory management are so tightly coupled. It is nearly impossible to switch from one system to another without affecting other services. Other problems include the duplication of data, no consistency, and no master point of data.

Replacing such systems in a traditional way is too expensive, complicated, and could take years, causing many retailers to get stuck in their growth, while competitors forge ahead.

Basically, for these retailers, the only solution besides starting your own software from scratch is doing what Hendricks and his Pied Piper team are trying to do: decentralizing and decoupling the platform. Cutting out the major middleman, getting rid of the single-platform dependency, building services independently, and connecting them all as a kind of peer-to-peer network. In IT terms, we are talking about switching the monolithic architecture to a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).

Service-Oriented Architectures

In a SOA, all services, for example, order management, storefronts, and customer and inventory management are working as a stand-alone service. At the same time, the data is being exposed so they can be consumed by delivery channels that need to use them, including storefronts, call centers, and warehouses. A Service-Oriented Architecture is the foundation to get Back-End and Front-End systems working together. It helps to ease migration to a new eCommerce platform, using the current system as a basis to start from. Components can then be easily updated, integrated, and even replaced without impacting operational integrity. One at a time, if necessary. Brand defining or business-specific services can be custom developed, while commoditized services (for example, payment) can be outsourced.

Last, but not least, with the use of a Service-Oriented Architecture, time to market for new eCommerce functionality is reduced drastically. It gives the retailer, time after time, an advantage over its competitors.

The idea of decoupling platforms is not new. Not only did HBO build a whole series around this subject in an extreme form, but also software developed on such architectures have been around for years. However, for some reason, just not widely available for eCommerce.

Luckily that is about to change now!

During Magento Live Europe 2018 in Barcelona, Adobe talked about their concept for the new architecture of their recently acquired eCommerce platform Magento. Magento Commerce Modular Architecture: a more modularized codebase that allows for near-limitless scalability and simpler upgrades. Switching slowly from a Monolithic architecture to a Service-Oriented Architecture. It sounds promising and definitely steps in the right direction. However, it will probably take a long time before the first stable version of the complete refactoring of the platform is done.

Service-Oriented Architectures

In a SOA, all services, for example, order management, storefronts, and customer and inventory management are working as a stand-alone service. At the same time, the data is being exposed so they can be consumed by delivery channels that need to use them, including storefronts, call centers, and warehouses. A Service-Oriented Architecture is the foundation to get Back-End and Front-End systems working together. It helps to ease migration to a new eCommerce platform, using the current system as a basis to start from. Components can then be easily updated, integrated, and even replaced without impacting operational integrity. One at a time, if necessary. Brand defining or business-specific services can be custom developed, while commoditized services (for example, payment) can be outsourced.

Last, but not least, with the use of a Service-Oriented Architecture, time to market for new eCommerce functionality is reduced drastically. It gives the retailer, time after time, an advantage over its competitors.

The idea of decoupling platforms is not new. Not only did HBO build a whole series around this subject in an extreme form, but also software developed on such architectures have been around for years. However, for some reason, just not widely available for eCommerce.

Luckily that is about to change now!

During Magento Live Europe 2018 in Barcelona, Adobe talked about their concept for the new architecture of their recently acquired eCommerce platform Magento. Magento Commerce Modular Architecture: a more modularized codebase that allows for near-limitless scalability and simpler upgrades. Switching slowly from a Monolithic architecture to a Service-Oriented Architecture. It sounds promising and definitely steps in the right direction. However, it will probably take a long time before the first stable version of the complete refactoring of the platform is done.

Decouple one by one

Luckily, to help to migrate to service-oriented architectures and to get a head start on competitors, there is no need to wait for tech giants to complete the transformation of their platform. By design, Service-Oriented Architectures allow users to start decoupling services one by one.

One of such services, and one recommended to start with, is the Front-End. Being it the Point of Sales, the place where the transaction takes place and where small changes in experience, uptime, and performance can make a huge difference for the revenue. Optimizing the Front-End is the place to start. Decoupling a Back-End from the Front-End is also referred to as “going headless”.

By decoupling the Back-End, the Front-End becomes a stand-alone service that connects with the Back-End services through API or GraphQL. The Back-End, in this case, can be full service oriented as well — but more easy and fast is to start with the already existing setup. Many software platforms such as Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce have ready-to-go APIs or GraphQL ready to connect to a stand-alone Front-End service.

Decouple one by one

Luckily, to help to migrate to service-oriented architectures and to get a head start on competitors, there is no need to wait for tech giants to complete the transformation of their platform. By design, Service-Oriented Architectures allow users to start decoupling services one by one.

One of such services, and one recommended to start with, is the Front-End. Being it the Point of Sales, the place where the transaction takes place and where small changes in experience, uptime, and performance can make a huge difference for the revenue. Optimizing the Front-End is the place to start. Decoupling a Back-End from the Front-End is also referred to as “going headless”.

By decoupling the Back-End, the Front-End becomes a stand-alone service that connects with the Back-End services through API or GraphQL. The Back-End, in this case, can be full service oriented as well — but more easy and fast is to start with the already existing setup. Many software platforms such as Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce have ready-to-go APIs or GraphQL ready to connect to a stand-alone Front-End service.

Falcon PWA Storefront

And guess what? Such stand-alone, headless, decoupled, and fully optimized Front-Ends are now available, out of the box, to build great experiences! An example of such software is Falcon PWA Storefront, a JavaScript Library to build decoupled websites. For example, a Progressive Web App built with NodeJS, ReactJS, GraphQL, and other modern technologies. Falcon PWA Storefront is built fully component-based: a true Service-Oriented Architecture making it limitlessly scalable, extensible, and integrable. This way, you don’t have to worry about scalability and performance, or when you want to build custom components and integrate new data sources. Later, when you are ready to switch your Back-Ends fully, or partially, your architecture on the front will help you to do so.

The team behind Falcon PWA Storefront has been building custom-built Service-Oriented Architectures for a couple of years now. With the release of their first stand-alone product, being the Front-End Falcon PWA Storefront, it is planning to release Back-End eCommerce products with similar decoupled architectures in the near future.

While Richard Hendricks and the Pied Piper team are trying to fight and decouple the internet completely, we in real life can start decoupling our webshops and other web-based platforms in a fairly easy way. So what are you waiting for? Join the revolution of Pied Piper and start decoupling today by going headless — and save the world of eCommerce.

Falcon PWA Storefront

And guess what? Such stand-alone, headless, decoupled, and fully optimized Front-Ends are now available, out of the box, to build great experiences! An example of such software is Falcon PWA Storefront, a JavaScript Library to build decoupled websites. For example, a Progressive Web App built with NodeJS, ReactJS, GraphQL, and other modern technologies. Falcon PWA Storefront is built fully component-based: a true Service-Oriented Architecture making it limitlessly scalable, extensible, and integrable. This way, you don’t have to worry about scalability and performance, or when you want to build custom components and integrate new data sources. Later, when you are ready to switch your Back-Ends fully, or partially, your architecture on the front will help you to do so.

The team behind Falcon PWA Storefront has been building custom-built Service-Oriented Architectures for a couple of years now. With the release of their first stand-alone product, being the Front-End Falcon PWA Storefront, it is planning to release Back-End eCommerce products with similar decoupled architectures in the near future.

While Richard Hendricks and the Pied Piper team are trying to fight and decouple the internet completely, we in real life can start decoupling our webshops and other web-based platforms in a fairly easy way. So what are you waiting for? Join the revolution of Pied Piper and start decoupling today by going headless — and save the world of eCommerce.

“Deity opens up the world of composable commerce for commercetools merchants by providing a powerful set of building blocks. Deity is a solution to watch, they are one of the next big things in commerce.”

Ivo Bronsveld – Head of Integrations at commercetools
Find out how you can supercharge your business.

“Deity opens up the world of composable commerce for commercetools merchants by providing a powerful set of building blocks. Deity is a solution to watch, they are one of the next big things in commerce.”

Ivo Bronsveld – Head of Integrations at commercetools
Find out how you can supercharge your business.

“Deity opens up the world of composable commerce for commercetools merchants by providing a powerful set of building blocks. Deity is a solution to watch, they are one of the next big things in commerce.”

Ivo Bronsveld – Head of Integrations at commercetools
Find out how you can supercharge your business.

Get in touch

We can’t wait to hear about your ambitions.

Let’s find out how we can bring your business to the future, together.

Charif Eddini Business Development Manager

Get in touch

We can’t wait to hear about your ambitions.

Let’s find out how we can bring your business to the future, together.

Charif Eddini Business Development Manager

Get in touch

We can’t wait to hear about your ambitions.

Let’s find out how we can bring your business to the future, together.

Charif Eddini Business Development Manager