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The Lazy Architect's Guide to Enterprise Software

        posted by , February 04, 2011

At first sight, the world of enterprise software appears complex and daunting. An endless parade of buzz words and three letter acronyms such as cloud, SOA, ERP, ESB, BPM — that many people use but few can explain.

There are many sources of information: vendor marketing sites, white papers, developer guides, forums and blogs. But few of these ever says directly what SOA, ERP, ESB etc... do.

The lazy enterprise architect views Enterprise Architecture in terms of architectural patterns and business functions. A good description of enterprise software does not need to be longer than 10 words.

Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

Architectural Pattern: decoupling of message consumers and producers
Related Design Patterns: publish/subscribe, request/reply, synchronous/asynchronous
Analogies: postal system, the internet

enterprise service bus

The main alternative to ESB — point-to-point messaging generally results in more complex solutions.

point to point integration

Extract, Transform, Load (ETL)

Architectural Pattern: copies data from one data store to another
Related Design Patterns: batch, data discovery, job scheduling, data validation

extract transform load

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)

Architectural Pattern: building software from discoverable, loosely coupled, reusable services.


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Business Function: manage core enterprise information and processes


Business Process Management (BPM)

Architectural Pattern: automatic process coordination
Analogy: American football playbook



Architectural Pattern: make many resources appear as one
Analogy: black box

cloud infrastructure and services


Architectural Pattern: make one resource appear as many
Analogy: time share vacation property


Customer relationship management (CRM)

Business Function: manage interactions with customers and prospective customers


Web Portal

Architectural Pattern: self-service
Analogy: self service gas station

web portal

Content Management System (CMS)

Architectural Pattern: self web publishing

content management system

Unified Communications

Business Function: instant messaging (IM) with voice, video and information sharing tools.

unified communications

Business Intelligence (BI)

Architectural Patterns: data analysis, decision support system

business intelligence

Data Warehousing

Architectural Pattern: data archive optimized for general purpose reporting

data warehouse


Architectural Pattern: data archive optimized for reporting for a specific line of business

data mart

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