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Friday, October 1, 2010

Binding Energy of Software Systems

When we study basics of atomic physics, we came to know that "A bound system has typically lower potential energy (i.e., mass) than its constituent parts" To make it into simple words, the total mass of all nucleons is more than the mass of nucleus formed by them. This mass deficit when converted to energy equivalent is called binding energy. That is the "force" which keeps the system together and not let the different constituent components fall apart!

So, In software terms, this is the effort that has gone into the "integration" of the different system components into its final form of Business Application.

Traditionally the integration has followed different models in the software systems.

Silos: Multiple software components were developed on a specific technology / programming language like COBOL, C etc., and they are integrated vertically using the procedure calls and RPCs. It is difficult to integrate with a component that is outside the technology.

Star/Spaghetti i.e., point to point integration: In this method, different components of a business application talk to each other using the flat files, or other methods. As a need for integration arises, the necessary interface should be developed and deployed on both the interfacing components of the business application. Soon, we will have a very complex spaghetti created that is very difficult to maintain.

Hub and Spoke based EAI: To overcome the standardization problems of point to point interfaces, each component should talk a "common language" with a central HUB that mediates all the integration between the enterprise business systems in that common language. This technology has developed several standard adaptors for common business components.

Enterprise Service Bus (ESB): This is the most modern integration technique available today. The key difference is that the central HUB is replaced with a more open set of protocols that can integrate the business components beyond a single enterprise. It is more open and allows more loosely coupled, heterogeneous components to talk to each other by providing more sophisticated "translation" services to them.

So, it is important that sufficient "binding energy" is in the Enterprise Business System and the CORRECT structure/method is used for the integration to keep the software strong (for operations) and flexible (for tackling the changes) all the way through its lifetime.

For more information on binding energy (atomic physics) :

For more on Patterns in Business Service Choreography using ESB (IBM redbook):
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