Welcome!

Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

Importance of Application Architecture

Importance of Application Architecture

This is the first in a series of articles from the Office of the CTO at BEA Systems. As my main area of expertise and interest is application architecture, my role within the CTO's office allows me to explore how BEA's customers and products interact around applications - architecture, development, and integration..

Over 10 years ago I was "promoted" to the title of application architect and the word "architect" got me thinking. What does an application architect do? Remember, the title wasn't as in vogue as it currently is. I came up with the following definitions - they made sense at the time and still seem to today.

This article is a general introduction and not a master class. I'm going to focus on when application architecture is useful and what it gives us. The specifics of "how to" and "goodness" will be very interesting, too, but we'll have to cover that at another time.

OK, What Is It and Why Do I Need It?
Simply put, architecture is big picture design. The architect's job is to do abstract structural design for a specific purpose. The goal is to ensure that the form and function of a particular structure is appropriate today and remains so throughout its expected lifetime.

In our applications world, an architect needs to create levels of design that span multiple business problems and continue to deliver appropriate behaviors as technology and business requirements evolve. The result is a framework that will enable the business applications to be reformed over time. The value of architecture is not some magic formula, but to provide a structure to support change.

Architecture can be applied in various "levels" and at various times. What follows is the basic route to success but, as with many things, your mileage may vary. What I hope you come away with is what we should be thinking about and why.

Enterprise Architecture - To Infinity and Beyond
The goal of successful enterprise architecture is to explore the entire business and define an application and infrastructure framework that has the potential of delivering workable solutions for the foreseeable future.

Is that all? Oh yes! It's also good to remember that many systems developed in the '80s are still in our active inventory. So balance is required - not too shortsighted but not too much detail.

The key is to identify the business aspects that are core and the others that might change significantly. This will allow us to frame the risk when looking at the specific areas to support. With a solid business perspective, current technologies and future science can be assessed. Although new technologies might stimulate new business, technologies are the tools, not the goal - business is the key.

The results should support business growth or shrinkage, and replacement of application and technology components over time. Change is a constant - the architecture's aim is not just to withstand it but also to enable it. The exact structure is not important but the focus must be correct and the framework must be appropriately flexible to evolve. The enterprise architecture will also provide the framing and guidance for the next levels of architecture and design.

Technical Architecture: Infrastructure By Any Other Name Might Be Plumbing
Those aspects of technology that cross business solutions, and can be framed separately, are what I think of as technical or infrastructure architecture. This area of "architecture" benefits most from the enterprise work above. The high-level framing provides a focus that is hard to synthesize out of a collection of projects. Without it there is a risk of "infrastructure for infrastructure's sake." Infrastructure tends to be the domain of the engineers and should not be focused on "the" right answer. The requirements of a good technical architecture, the diversity of applications to be supported, are such that a single right answer is unrealistic.

A better goal is a set of solutions that support varying degrees of "perfection" at well-understood cost and risks. The engineering "focus" can be a powerful tool in defining the solution sets but it must be tempered with the architect's broader perspective. Success is not about technology but about supporting secure and robust business applications at the appropriate cost and time.

Domain Architecture: The Few vs The Many
Domain architecture focuses on one area of the business and, because of its focus, results in a more specific design. Think of it as building a bank within a skyscraper. The original building architect had to allow for floors to support the weight of a vault and a large open area for the business floor. The bank architect could then work within those constraints and focus on the business needs of the branch: automated tellers, security cameras, and so on.

The goal is still to create a long-lived framework; the specifics of the contemporary solution can be resolved by further design. Analysis of the business needs driving the architecture must include interaction with other business entities, today and in the future. The product of poor domain architecture is "silos," the focus of many a project for the last few years.

The real challenge is to support the business domain to the maximum while remaining a good enterprise citizen. Pragmatically, this is the majority of architecture so it is essential that it be done as architecture and not as a project design - the right level of detail and vision.

Project Architecture: Are You Sure We Have Time For That?
Actually, that's a good question. By the time we get to individual projects, the development of a forward-looking framework seems a little like overkill. We need good design and hopefully that is done within the scope of an existing architectural framework. So we should really discuss the role of an architect at the project level.

Projects are concrete, they have rigid requirements, and they require compromise. It is the role of an architect to bring the broader perspective, architecture, to the construction process. If no architecture exists, then it becomes essential for the architect to provide as much vision and breadth to the design as the timelines will allow. The role of an architect on a project is key if the resulting deployed application is to be both robust and well - behaved. While architecture is about the bigger picture, architects should be ready to get engaged on the details.

So What Next?
Hopefully this has given you a useful and pragmatic perspective on the value of architecture. You probably noticed that J2EE or Web services didn't come up. We architect applications for business needs and technology's role is a supporting one. We should consider them in our process as they might open up new business requirements. It would have been appropriate to talk about them as examples of prefabricated infrastructure, but in my experience it's not a smart idea to base architecture on contemporary technologies.
To be continued?

More Stories By Gordon Simpson

Gordon Simpson is senior director of technology in the Office of the CTO for BEA Systems, Inc. Gordon plays a key role in directing BEA's enterprise application platform strategy. He has been involved in all aspects of enterprise applications development since the mid-70s.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
Here are the Top 20 Twitter Influencers of the month as determined by the Kcore algorithm, in a range of current topics of interest from #IoT to #DeepLearning. To run a real-time search of a given term in our website and see the current top influencers, click on the topic name. Among the top 20 IoT influencers, ThingsEXPO ranked #14 and CloudEXPO ranked #17.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arvind Radhakrishnen discussed how IoT offers new business models in banking and financial services organizations with the capability to revolutionize products, payments, channels, business processes and asset management built on strong architectural foundation. The following topics were covered: How IoT stands to impact various business parameters including customer experience, cost and risk management within BFS organizations.
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...