Sunday, 22 June 2008

Flintstone Machine: Enterprise Integration Pattern

In the Flintstones cartoon, the "modern stone age" families used used machines that were functionally equivalent to the contemporary household utility appliances, but were powered by animals inside. For example, in the recent film, their garbage collector chute leads to a pig in the cupboard that eats all the waste food.

In enterprise IT systems we find similar things: systems that hand off work to a human worker when that work could be accomplished by the system or passed to another system. The worker becomes the equivalent of the animals inside the Flintstones' machines.

The key feature is that the task the worker performs could be done, in whole or in part by software; indicating areas where greater operational efficiencies may be achieved. Of course, it does not indicate that there is a cost benefit to making the change!

This can make sense as a temporary step on the journey toward greater integration. To keep your promises, you might roll out your online ordering system to the world and start taking orders today, before you can bring the warehousing system to the party. You have a team of people working like hell to take the orders to the warehouse and update the stock levels. The warehousing integration rolls out later.

The enterprise system is like a swan, the surface is all graceful and efficient, while the legs are working like hell to move things along!

Also see: Swivel Chair Integration

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