Bundled vs Un-bundled

One tool for all or one tool for each job ? That's the choice between a bundled or separate stack. Choose wisely.

When choosing tools, you may be wondering which way to go. Is an all-in-one solution better than using multiple/different tools for each aspect of the stack (what you use).

Each has its pros and cons, but you need to evaluate carefully what suits you best as changing may not be that straightforward.

What is it ?

Bundled vs Un-bundled stacks

I think the image above illustrates well the difference between bundled and un-bundled.

On the left side, a bundled stack is a one tool for all, everything works together to bring a unified experience.

On the right, an un-bundled one is something more pieced together. A bunch of different tools interacting with each other.

What should I choose ?

The choice between bundled or separate (un-bundled) will depend on what you are willing to accept and/or sacrifice.

If you want to absolute best for all the components of you're stack, you will want to keep each aspect separate. When doing so, you can use the best tool for each category. Businesses focused only on one component will likely have a better solution to a problem that a tool that covers multiple aspects.

However, that introduce a lot of complexities and therefore why you may prefer a bundled option. The complexity lies in increasing the number of tools, knowing what is the source of truth in case of overlapping data, making tools interact to build custom solutions, ... In the end, you end up patching together different solutions not made to work together.

Bundled Un-bundled
Pros Pros
- All-in-one: Easy to manage and keep track of changes, updates, ...
- Cost: By bundling tools, you can get a better all-inclusive price
- Integrated: In theory, if you choose a good provider, things will just work, you shouldn't have to customize much
- Specialized : You can get the best in each category
- Swapability : If something happens to a tool you use, you can switch that component to a new one without affecting too much other workflows
Cons Cons
- General: Features may not be as advanced, polished as a specialized tool
- Vendor lock-in: Is it harder to move out of the tool when necessary
- Reliance: If your provider breaks, you break
- Cost: Each tool adds its own cost
- Multiple tools: Need to keep track of all, updates, ...
- Integration: Custom work required to make components interact with each other

Finally, you may also opt for an hybrid solution. Opting for something bundled (or not) and progressively move towards the other, depending on where you are at and need.

Once more, there is no right solution. Only different options to consider and evaluate to build the stack that suits you.

My suggestion, for tools you want to use, start simple: bundled. However, if you want to build tools, stay un-bundled. Focus on bringing one to market to be good and proven enough before moving on to another one.