The Trivadis Integration Architecture Blueprint

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(For more resources on Trivadis Integration and SOA, see here.)

Introduction

With the widespread use of service-oriented architecture (SOA), the integration of different IT systems has gained a new relevance. The era of isolated business information systems—so-called silos or stove-pipe architectures—is finally over. It is increasingly rare to find applications developed for a specific purpose that do not need to exchange information with other systems. Furthermore, SOA is becoming more and more widely accepted as a standard architecture. Nearly all organizations and vendors are designing or implementing applications with SOA capability. SOA represents an end-to-end approach to the IT system landscape as the support function for business processes. Because of SOA, functions provided by individual systems are now available in a single standardized form throughout organizations, and even outside their corporate boundaries. In addition, SOA is finally offering mechanisms that put the focus on existing systems, and make it possible to continue to use them. Smart integration mechanisms are needed to allow existing systems, as well as the functionality provided by individual applications, to be brought together into a new fully functioning whole. For this reason, it is essential to transform the abstract concept of integration into concrete, clearly structured, and practical implementation variants.

The Trivadis Integration Architecture Blueprint indicates how integration architectures can be implemented in practice. It achieves this by representing common integration approaches, such as Enterprise Application Integration (EAI); Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL); event-driven architecture (EDA); and others, in a clearly and simply structured blueprint. It creates transparency in the confused world of product developers and theoretical concepts.

The Trivadis Integration Architecture Blueprint shows how to structure, describe, and understand existing application landscapes from the perspective of integration. The process of developing new systems is significantly simplified by dividing the integration architecture into process, mediation, collection and distribution, and communication layers. The blueprint makes it possible to implement application systems correctly without losing sight of the bigger picture: a high performance, flexible, scalable, and affordable enterprise architecture.

Standards, components, and patterns used

The Trivadis Integration Architecture Blueprint uses common standardized techniques, components, and patterns, and is based on the layered architecture principle.

A layered architecture divides the overall architecture into different layers with different responsibilities. Depending on the size of the system and the problem involved, each layer can be broken down into further layers. Layers represent a logical construct, and can be distributed across one or more physical tiers. In contrast to levels, layers are organized hierarchically, and different layers can be located on the same level. Within the individual layers, the building blocks can be strongly cohesive. Extensive decoupling is needed between the layers. The rule is that higher-level layers can only be dependent on the layers beneath them and not vice versa. Each building block in a layer is only dependent on building blocks in the same layer, or the layers beneath. It is essential to create a layer structure that isolates the most important cohesive design aspects from one another, so that the building blocks within the layers are decoupled.

The blueprint is process oriented, and its notation and structure are determined by the blueprint’s dependencies and information flow in the integration process. An explanation of how the individual layers, their building blocks, and tasks can be identified from the requirements of the information flow is given on the basis of a simple scenario. In this scenario, the information is transported from one source to another target system using an integration solution.

In the blueprint, the building blocks and scenarios are described using familiar design patterns from different sources:

  • (Hohpe, Wolf 2004)
  • (Adams et al. 2001)
  • (Coral8 2007)
  • (Russel et al. 2006)

These patterns are used in a shared context on different layers. The Trivadis Integration Architecture Blueprint includes only the integration-related parts of the overall architecture, and describes the specific view of the technical integration domain in an overall architecture. It focuses on the information flow between systems in the context of domain-driven design.

Domain-driven design is a means of communication, which is based on a profound understanding of the relevant business domain. This is subsequently modeled specifically for the application in question. Domain models contain no technical considerations and are restricted exclusively to business aspects. Domain models represent an abstraction of a business domain, which aims to capture the exemplary aspects of a specific implementation for this domain. The objectives are:

  • To significantly simplify communication between domain experts and developers by using a common language (the domain model)
  • To enable the requirements placed on the software to be defined more accurately and in a more targeted way
  • It must be possible to describe, specify, and document the software more precisely and more comprehensibly, using a clearly defined language, which will make it easier to maintain

The technical aspects of architecture can be grouped into domains in order to create specific views of the overall system. These domains cover security, performance, and other areas. The integration of systems and information also represents a specific view of the overall system, and can be turned into a domain.

Integration domain is used to mean different things in different contexts. One widely used meaning is “application domain,” in other words, a clearly defined, everyday problem area where computer systems and software are used. Enterprise architectures are often divided into business and technical domains:

  • Business domains may include training, resource management, purchasing, sales or marketing, for example.
  • Technical domains are generally areas such as applications, integration, network, security, platforms, systems, data, and information management.

The blueprint, however, sees integration as a technical domain, which supports business domains, and has its own views that can be regarded as complementary to the views of other architecture descriptions.

In accordance with Evans (Evans, 2004), the Trivadis Integration Architecture Blueprint is a ubiquitous language for describing integration systems. This and the structure of the integration domain on which it is based, have been tried and tested in a variety of integration projects using different technologies and products. The blueprint has demonstrated that it offers an easy-to-use method for structuring and documenting implementation solutions. As domain models for integration can be formulated differently depending on the target platform (for example, an object-oriented system or a classic ETL solution), the domain model is not described in terms of object orientation. Instead, the necessary functionality takes the form of building blocks (which are often identical with familiar design patterns) on a higher level of abstraction. This makes it possible to use the blueprint in a heterogeneous development environment with profitable results.

An architecture blueprint is based on widely used, tried-and-tested techniques, components, and patterns, which are grouped into a suitable structure to meet the requirements of the target domain.

The concepts, the functionality, and the building blocks to be implemented are described in an abstract form in blueprints. These are then replaced or fine-tuned by product-specific building blocks in the implementation project. Therefore, the Trivadis Integration Architecture Blueprint has been deliberately designed to be independent of individual vendors, products, and technologies. It includes integration scenarios and proposals that apply to specific problems, and can be used as aids during the project implementation process. The standardized view of the integration domain and the standardized means of representation enable strategies, concepts, solutions, and products to be compared with one another more easily in evaluations of architectures.

The specifications of the blueprint act as guidelines. Differences between this model and reality may well occur when the blueprint is implemented in a specific project. Individual building blocks and the relationships between them may not be needed, or may be grouped together. For example, the adapter and mapper building blocks may be joined together to form one component in implementation processes or products.


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