Saturday, February 20, 2010

Enterprise Architecture is not Platform Architecture

The whole NOSQL thing has been a hot topic over the past year or so in the tech blogosphere and I don't aim to add to the discussion (suffice to say that both relational and non-relational data stores have their place and it all depends on your requirements; this is not my area of religion).  No, the reason I bring it up has more to do with the larger concerns behind the rising tide of NOSQL and other like uprisings against conventional enterprise architectural thinking.

It seems that folks are starting to understand that those things very important to enterprise applications are often different than those most critical to an internet-scale application (or other what some like to call "platform" applications).  The people designing and developing these apps tend to come from the same community of technologists, with their own preconceptions of the architectural characteristics an application or system should have.  Since enterprise applications came first, you get the things important to them applied to platform systems, even when it might be clear to a dispassionate observer that different concerns should be at play. So you get ACID or even 2PC transactions at every corner, relational databases, lots of small custom applications, failures treated as fatal.  You might have some of those things in a platform architecture, but often they are not nearly as important as the twin towers of horizontal scalability and the expectation - and thus resilience in the face - of failure.   The middleware vendors orient their best practices around enterprise applications, since that's their bread and butter from a financial perspective (but that just adds to the confusion).

It's good to see that these preconceptions are being pushed aside as platform applications are becoming more prevalent.

Enterprise architecture can learn from platform architecture too.  I just hope folks don't go whole hog in the other direction ...

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