Michael Stephenson

keeping your feet on premise while your heads in the cloud
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BizTalk Anti Pattern – 5 minutes on the lips a lifetime on the hips

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5 minutes on the lips a lifetime on the hips 

Description:

I wish I had a pound for every time a work around is implemented in a BizTalk solution to make up for some issue with an application your trying to integrate with. This is often referred to as technical or architectural debt. One of the good things about BizTalk is that as an integration platform it has a number of way that this "dirty" side to integration can still be managed effectively but one of the problems customers often have is the long term implications of this debt. BizTalk often becomes an easy place to implement integration workarounds rather than deal with the core issue.

 

With this anti pattern I have related it to a common phrase in the world of diet and health. The phrase relates well to this anti-pattern because you may get a project where a workaround (which in a lot of cases should be referred to as a "hack") is implemented to deal with an immediate project issue and it can often be a very quick thing. People often don't think of this as cutting corners but often it is and the implications of this short term workaround is that you inherit additional maintenance overhead for a very long time afterwards.

 

In my experience I think that less than 25% of the times a project implements a workaround does this technical debt ever get repaid properly and with a lot of projects an organization isn't even able to track the level of technical debt it has.

  

Symptoms:

  • Poor architectural decision making processes
  • Isolated project decisions with no governance
  • In experienced BizTalk team
  • Lack of communication about issues and problem solving approaches
  • Lack of measurement of technical debt

      

Pain:

  • Future projects inherit the pain from technical debt
  • Workarounds built on top of workarounds
  • Projects tend to get messy

      

Cure:

It's a difficult thing to cure because its really about an organisations culture and how they do projects. Having a strong architectural governance process can help a lot and having good escalation process can help too. I would recommend you should do the following:

 

  • Log all workarounds that get implemented somewhere
  • Measure the size of the workaround
  • Measure the predicted long term impact of the workaround
  • Review these regularly

 

One of the things I have done in the past is to use the BizTalk Solution Analyser tool to help me understand how changes in a source code structure have been implemented as a way to try to help me identify workarounds which may have been implemented by a project.

  

Comments:

 This anti-pattern is by no means specific to BizTalk but I see it a lot in the BizTalk world and I wondered what other peoples thoughts about this or any examples people can share.

Print | posted on Thursday, July 26, 2012 5:52 PM | Filed Under [ BizTalk Patterns and Anti Patterns ]

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