Why Watching TV with your wife/husband/partner is good for Architects

Sometime watching a show that has nothing to do with software architecture could help you understand architectural concepts. It recently happened to me.

I usually come home early enough to have dinner with my kids, read them a story and put them to bed (what a good dad J). After that, before starting my “graveyard shift” at Microsoft (the well known 9.30pm-12.30am email session)  I spend time with my wife chatting about the day and watch some TV.

It is by watching Gordon’s Ramsey Hell’s Kitchen show the other night that I learned about the “mise en place”.

It is during the “mise en place” that the onions are chopped, the carrots peeled, the chicken skinned etc. in other words, it is when all the basic ingredients are made ready for consumption, or composition as a Chef would say. I understand that great Chefs see cooking as an art and therefore composing ingredients into a great dish seems to be a more appropriate wording.

This is when it hit me… this is exactly what architecting for successful SaaS consumption is all about.

The "mise en place" is the integration architecture that IT has to put in place to “prepare” all the services for proper composition. Chopping onions, peeling carrots would translate in data and protocol transformation, skinning the chicken would be orchestrating the multi-step process of importing master data from a legacy system.

The Chef composing the gourmet dish from the ingredients, is the equivalent of the creation of a composite application from different “prepared” services of the IT services portfolio. The salt and pepper are the wiring/light scripting configurations unifying all the ingredients.

I talked before about the “software + services” approach where the enterprise IT will be made of on premises services and services sourced from the cloud. I suppose the equivalent of the “on promise” / “in the cloud” choice is whether one decides to chop the onions in the kitchen or to buy chopped onions from a vendor; with all the control / risk trade off related to that choice.

Below is a diagram that represents this thinking. First you see that the IT services portfolio is a hybrid landscape ("on premise" and "in the cloud" service); the "mise en place" is performed by the Integration architecture, the composition of the dish is part of the Composition architecture.


saas consumption architecture


I am now looking forward to watch some more TV with my wife as it will help me understand or explain additional concepts… I think Fear Factor could be a good candidate J

Comments (8)

  1. DavidWaldock says:

    "I suppose the equivalent of the “on promise” / “in the cloud” choice is whether one decides to chop the onions in the kitchen or to buy chopped onions from a vendor; with all the control / risk trade off related to that choice."

    I think this is a really valid point as the locus of chopping is going to affect the quality of the final composition.  If you chop the onions, then you have complete control over the size of the pieces and their freshness – this is the equivalent of building a component yourself and ensuring that it does exactly what you want it to do in exactly the way you want it to.

    On the flip side, you could request chopped onions from the greengrocer: the problem is that you have less control over the size and the freshness (onions which have been soaking in water taste different to freshly chopped onions).  To an extent, you also lose control over the quality of the onions, as you might discard an onion which just goes into the big onion chopping machine.  However, all of these are variable factors: one vendor might charge a lot, and deliver high-quality, variously sized, extremely fresh ingredients every morning, whereas another is cheaper, but the quality is lower, the size is random and they only deliver every second or third day.

    The same is true of "bought-in" components.  Some are expensive, but do exactly what you want, whereas others do roughly what you want and just about do.

    Of course, in a real kitchen, you employ someone to do all the prep for you and if they get the onions wrong you scream, curse and throw knives at them…

  2. Yesterday I was talking to a couple of enterprise customers, one of them happen to be from Jamaica. He

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