The simple software architecture movement, finding the Crinoid stems in your infrastructure….

Complex systems eventually fail. What happens over time as organizations build structures comprised of complex layered solutions?

Sedimentary rock is built over millions of years and millions of layers. It is hard, but can be crushed with not considerable force. Metamorphic rock is also created over millions of years but add heat and pressure.

After years of seeking simplicity I have come to one startling conclusion. IT infrastructures DO NOT PRODUCE THE HEAT OR PRESSURE required for metamorphic rock. IT infrastructures are layers of uncured sedimentary rock.

In the hilarious movie by Monty Python called Jabberwocky the efficiency expert enters the weapons factory and moves one spear just a little. The result is a cataclysmic destruction of the weapons factory. At the time I would have said the efficiency expert shouldn’t have moved the spear. Now I realize that the reality was the sedimentary infrastructure of the factory wasn’t strong enough to support the factory and would have collapsed on its own eventually.

Having visited now probably close to 100 customers and service providers over the past 25 years I am beginning to realize the reason why the simple architecture movement struggles. It is really hard to document complex sedimentary rock. As a child I used to seek Crinoid Stems. First really cool – the remains of a plant 300 million years old. At the time we would try to find all the pieces of the plant and recreate them. They were a puzzle without instructions we tried to put together. Of course we failed. We also found the stems embedded in larger pieces of rock. Because they, Crinoid Stems, were the base of one layer of the sedimentary rock, limestone, that southern Indiana is famous for.

But now I realize that in deconstructing and reconstructing one stem we were failing. We needed to be examining the whole Crinoid patch to properly recreate what had been. We didn’t however have directions, instructions or an architectural guide that would take us to the requirements and components of the Crinoid Forest. Just the stems that while they seemed to fit together never did.

That in the end is why Simple Software Architectures make sense. It isn’t a map to any one stem. It is a recreation of the forest. Your simple architecture documented in an easily read format is the what and why of your deployed infrastructure. Effectivly it gives your organization a path to metamorphic architectures. Ones that are not built on layer upon layer of complexity.

Complex solutions that beget complex architectures create complex fossil fields that future software architects will look at and see single stems. Do the stems fit together? They will never be able to see your infrastructure because it is buried in the complexity of the layers.

Taking the line from Star Trek’s Captain Picard and modifying it slightly from Make it so, to “Make it simple.” The easier it is to document a solution the more likely it is to be documented. The better your documentation is the easier your next upgrade becomes. The easier your upgrades become the less complex your in structure will be.

It is a simple process that doesn’t require complex layers. Know what you have, document what is there and share it.

Make it SIMPLE!


Simple Architect