Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (PRO-best Practices) Paperback – 17 May 2008
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About the Author
Roger Sessions is a recognized expert in enterprise architecture. He serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Software Architects (IASA), is Editor-in-Chief of IASA's Perspectives Journal, and is a Microsoft MVP in enterprise architecture. He has written six books, including Software Fortresses: Modeling Enterprise Architectures, and many articles. He has been a keynote speaker on the topic of enterprise architecture for dozens of events in more than 30 countries. He is the Chief Technology Officer of ObjectWatch.
Top customer reviews
Sessions proposes a method called "Simple Iterative Partitions" (SIP) for defining "Autonomous Business Capabilities" that would contain compatible business processes and software systems. He suggests five requirements for successfully partitioning systems, and the book looks at these in detail and suggests how they can be achieved:
- Partitions must be true partitions.
- Partition definitions must be appropriate to the problem at hand.
- The number of subsets in a partition must be appropriate.
- The size of the subsets in a partition must be roughly equal.
- The interaction between subsets in the partitions must be minimal and well defined.
These are discussed with simple mathematics and illustrative examples, and Sessions is always careful to explain with clarity. But it is unfortunate that he offers too few actual case studies of SIP in action. Perhaps these will come in his next book.
There is a case-study chapter on the National Program for Information Technology (NPfIT) being undertaken by the British Government's National Health Service, which Session's sees as a prime example of creeping complexity that would benefit from the SIP approach.
There are interesting ideas in this book, and Sessions manages to keep the discussion brief and illuminating; he is also careful not to baffle with jargon or talk of the latest technology. That said, it's a pity that more complex actual examples aren't provided to illustrate the SIP process in operation.
This book is essentially about post-framework EA. It isn't new, in fact it was published 3 years ago, but, like a good wine that gets better with age, the book becomes more and more relevant with each passing year. Roger Session courageously redefines what good enterprise architecture is about. In his view, there's a single fundamental root of every notorious issue in modern enterprise IT such as business misalignment, untimely and unreliable information, soaring costs. The root is complexity that poisons everything if not properly controlled. The goal of this book is to present a proper set of thinking tools that enable an architect to understand, measure, plan and contain the overwhelming complexity of an enterprise.
First few chapters are dedicated a theoretic introduction to the subject of complexity. Author draws from combinatorics and set theory to illustrate several techniques to battle complexity: partitioning, simplification, and iteration. The less math-savvy you are as a reader, the more challenging the reading would be, but at the same time the more you get from the book. Anyway it's not a rocket science, so everyone could make sense of it.
The rest of the book is mostly dedicated to author's own lightweight method on controlling the complexity of enterprise architectures which is called Simple Iterative Partitions (SIP). From its point of view an enterprise is seen as a hierarchical composition of autonomous business capabilities (ABCs) that partition both modules of business and software systems that support them. A nice feature of SIP is that it draws a clear line between enterprise and solutions architecture and doesn't attempt to get into the domain of latter, but rather helps to define boundaries of systems that need to be developed or acquired.
In addition to that there's an entertaining case study of complexity (mis-)management given on an example of notorious multi-billion atrocity of NPfIT programme that is run by British National Healthcare System since early 2000s. A superficial application of SIP demonstrates that certain programme-level decisions made in the past were fundamentally wrong from the complexity control perspective, and a better way of achieving the goal is elicited. Of course devil is in the detail so I wouldn't take the conclusions deadly seriously; however, for a sake of method demonstration it is really valuable perspective.
I found the book to be easy to read. In fact it is quite short, less than 200 pages of actual content that is concisely summarized in the last chapter for further reference. It could be even shorter if author took out lengthy introduction on the subject of EA in the first chapter. It is completely useless to most readers because it presents yet another overview of Zachman Framework and TOGAF that is too short to be practically useful on its own and doesn't add any value as it is not referenced in the book later.
In summary, I would suggest reading this book to anyone practising EA as it provides a completely unorthodox perspective, which is always good since it feeds your critical thinking. On the other hand if your professional interests are closer to tin, e.g. technical architecture, you may find this book of less interest as it lacks any specifics or technologies. It isn't a book that you'll keep at your desk, but it is definitely a smart and enjoyable reading that changes the way you look at everyday things.
(This review was originally posted on Enterprise Systems Engineering blog -- see profile for URL)
As a whole this short book is a good read and is one I will re-read once I have absorbed its concepts. I also suspect that is a parallel version of this for the world of high-level project planning
I was very disappointed with this book which could be easily condensed to a page or even the line "simpler architectures are easier to develop and maintain". Wow, what an insight! The author attempts to hype this rather obvious premise using mathematics and some dubious "propriety" processes he invented called "SIPs" and "ABC".
Not a practical guide to developing, managing or governing EA or any type of architectures. Not much academic value either. Any architeture attempting to "sell" a solution using concepts in the book would get laughed out of any boardroom!
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The main theme of this book is to simplify Enterprise IT by dividing the business up into units and then tackling those units in order...Read more
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