N-Tier ~ Harness the Chaos


Harnessing the Power of Chaos


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Take Your Information System to the Power of N !

As companies look for new ways to compete in today's chaotic world, they're placing ever greater requirements on their Information Systems. These steadily increasing requirements demand flexible "adaptive solutions" that can be rapidly designed, developed, applied and managed, within today's complex and continuously changing business environment.

N-Tier computing is all about harnessing the power of flexible Internet based technology and evolving "Open" distributed computing standards, to help transform your traditional "brick-and-mortar" business into a modern, adaptive eBusiness.

Often referred to as: thin-client, browser-based, network-centric or multi-tiered computing, N-Tier computing encapsulates all of these concepts, to give us the ability to best harness the power of today's complex computing systems, as well as to help simplify and unify an often chaotic mix of applications, interfaces and cross-platform networks.

N-Tier network-based computing allows lightweight "thin-client" devices such as Internet Browsers, Web-TVs, Smart-Phones, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA's) and Networked Appliances to harness the virtually limitless power of the Internet.

cha•os \"kÀ-'äs\ noun (15c)

1: a state of things in which chance is supreme; ie:
  • the confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms
  • the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a natural system (as the atmosphere, boiling water, or the beating heart)

2: a state of utter confusion <the citywide blackout caused chaos>
3: a confused mass or mixture <a chaos of television antennas>

Orderly Disorder
Chaos is certainly not a "bad thing". As a matter of fact, Chaos is one of the fundamental building blocks in our complex and ever-changing Universe. Chaos may be thought of as the "Disorder  within  Order" as well as the "Order  within  Disorder".

Chaos and related Complexity theory have recently transformed much of the scientific community and have shown us new ways of looking at the increasingly complex and dynamically interconnected world around us.

Complex Adaptive Systems
A diverse collection of scientific fields from Meteorology, Biology, Evolution and Medicine, to Mathematics, Physics, Communications, Information Theory and Business Management, along with a host of other disciplines have all been affected by this radically new way of viewing dynamical "Complex Systems".

Multi-dimensional and complex, interrelated "dynamical systems" such as the weather, the environment or even a dripping faucet, may seem random or chaotic, but upon detailed examination, contain a special type of dynamic order that is not easy to see "at a glance".

Integrated N-Tier Business Applications may also be viewed as dynamically interrelated "Complex Systems". These continuously changing systems are purposefully designed as flexible frameworks, in order to be able to adapt and evolve depending on rapidly changing technical and business environments.

N-Tier Architectures ~ An Adaptive System
The benefits of implementing an adaptable N-Tier architecture are both numerous and compelling.

N-Tier computing concepts share Quantum Mechanic's componentized vision of small quantized packets of information, along with the dynamic, evolving, fractal nature of our Universe.

N-Tier distributed systems development adopt an iterative, "continuous improvement" approach to untangling the complexities of dynamic interrelated and ever-changing business problems.

N-Tier application development is an iterative process of breaking a problem or related opportunity into manageable pieces called components. These individual software components can then evolve and adapt, both independently and/or as part of the overall system in which they exist.

Smart Systems for Smart People
N-Tier application development combines the use of good engineering practice, along with proven Iterative / Continuous Improvement techniques, to ensure "evolutionary" solutions to complex business problems. The net result is an adaptive system that is modular, highly scalable, robust, and dynamic enough to meet the needs of today's businesses.

N-Tier component based architectures are developed to help integrate new and existing applications and business processes, link to different data sources, and reuse "live" objects. This "living system" is built to be adaptable, secure, scalable, reliable and 100% available even while modifying or enhancing it with different process flows, applications, and data sources.

The Growing Complexity of Information Technology
Todays Information Systems are comprised of an increasingly chaotic mix of :

  • Countless Desktop packages.
  • Increasingly complex system interfaces.
  • Diverse application development environments.
  • Multiple hardware and operating system platforms.
  • Endless Application and Network upgrades.
  • Complex, multi-vendor problem resolution.
And the Chaos continues to grow day by day!

New systems are being introduced by IT at a faster rate than ever before but the life span of these systems is reducing, resulting in a constant backlog of demands. In addition, IT managers need to keep abreast of new technologies, products and version upgrades in an increasingly complex and continuously changing IT market.

The Changing Business Environment
A comprehensive, leading edge e-business infrastructure is a prerequisite to being competitive and avoiding the pitfalls of doing business online. However many of today's e-business and web-commerce sites will stumble, tangled in complex, mismatched and overlapping software that slows progress.

The amount of data a company must manage as a result of the e-business explosion is staggering, At the same time, the value of this information has sky rocketed, making information the most valuable corporate asset for creating competitive advantage.

The multi-platform environment facing IT departments today is not a short-term challenge but a long-term planning assumption. As a result, it is clear that the IT infrastructure of the future will be heterogeneous and constantly changing ~ a point of 'stability' will never be reached.

The real challenge is not one of platform standardization, but of platform integration. Because of the complex and distributed nature of legacy, Client/Server, homegrown, Internet and traditional customer relationship management applications that typically comprise a large organization's infrastructure, the challenge of providing a solution that seamlessly links and integrates these systems is immense.

co•her•ence \k Ö - " hir-€ n(t)s, - " her-\   noun   (1580)

1 : the quality or state of cohering: as
  1. : systematic or logical connection or consistency
  2. : integration of diverse elements, relationships, or values

2 : the property of being coherent

N-Tier systems use a "divide and conquer" approach to help turn complex, continuously evolving business needs into flexible, adaptable enterprise-class solutions.

N-Tier frameworks help to break complex problems into manageable service layers while leveraging emerging technologies to provide the user benefits of true distributed computing.

KISS ~ Keeping Information Systems Simple!
The phenomenal growth in N-Tier style computing is facilitated by several key factors:
  • Low marginal costs of implementation and maintenance;
  • The ability to integrate all existing computing resources across multiple diverse platforms.
  • Simply implemented at client sites, requiring only a basic "Browser" (or other simple Network Interface Device).

Computers are supposed to make business easier, but the current way systems are hard wired together often makes adaptability and true business flexibility much, much harder. At most companies, existing chaotic IT infrastructures, are often major roadblocks in keeping many of today's great business related plans from becoming tomorrow's reality.

A thin client architecture places the presentation layer of the application on the client, while most of the logic and data reside on the server. Designing for thin-clients greatly minimizes application deployment problems while maximizing user accessibility from a wide variety of platforms.

N-Tier platforms function consistently across a wide range of hardware enabling you to scale your operations from the palm top to the data center, from the simplest of computer devices to the most complex mainframes.

Distributed Solutions ~ Not Distributed Complexity
Today, adaptive organizations are moving away from "fat client" implementations of desktop and traditional Client/Server computing -- where data and logic are simply divided between the Client and Server - and opting to host their mission-critical applications on centralized Application Servers.

Simply deploying a graphical interface requires the least complex of the Client/Server models - the so called "Thin-Client"architecture. Many e-business applications now use a simple HTML based browser as a universal "Thin Client" interface.

A thin-client based architecture places the visual or presentation layer of the application on the Client's system, while the business logic and data reside on the middle and server tiers. This is the basis of the network computing model and it is indeed the most pervasive of recent computing trends.

The recent increase in mainframe and mid range activity is indicative of this recent swing to network computing. In this shift back to thin client/network computing, only the application's presentation is distributed to the client. This shift is what has fueled the interest in, and success of, the global Internet and corporate intranets.

N-Tiered development separates the user interface from the application logic and the underlying data. In this manner, individual tiers can be modified or scaled without requiring changes to other tiers.

Separating your business logic from the user interface and underlying data, allows independent evolution of the user interface and business logic, while ensuring unlimited scalability and true platform independence.

In the N-Tier world, the development of the individual parts of an enterprise application can be divided among IT workers with the most appropriate skills.

Programmers most familiar with GUI development can work on the client interface while Developers with data access skills and Managers with the Business Rules are able to focus on the business components. Database Implementers and Administrators are likewise able to focus on the data tier(s), helping to ensure a solid foundation.

Change Is Good ~ Managing Change Is Even Better.
The information technology sector is proving to be a laboratory not only for technology, but for the management and control of complexity, uncertainty and rapid change.

The world of computers and telecommunications is changing rapidly. Advanced networks and information services has become a jungle of confusing jargon and complex technology.

We've gone from mainframes, departmental minicomputers, and locally connected PCs to myriad devices connecting hundreds of thousands of potential users through a cornucopia of client-servers, database servers, application servers, Web servers, and more.

With such a complex and confusing array of choices and options and with such uncertainty inherent in what we do, the only thing we can count on in an Information based organization is the need to manage and to encourage change.

Adaptive organizations need to maintain a reliable information infrastructure and deploy flexible Internet-related technology in order to stay competitive within todays rapidly changing and increasingly chaotic marketplace.

Tomorrows successful companies must learn to use technology not just to support what they currently do, but also to enable new initiatives and enhanced capabilities.

The Future is here and two trends are becoming increasingly obvious.

  1. Expect Change - Companies must rapidly adapt to constant change - or perish!
  2. Business and Computer Systems will continue to get increasingly more complex.
Building with the Future in Mind
If you build with the future in mind, your Business Computer System will be flexible enough to adapt to complex and constantly changing conditions, along with your Business.

N-Tier development provides simple building blocks for adaptive business software and flexible information systems which help corporations integrate all existing Information Technology investments while also taking full advantage of the Internet.

N-Tier -- An Integrating Architecture
One way to simplify the complexities of integrating business-critical software is by standardizing on a common architecture. Having a common architecture eases a lot of inter operability hassles with integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and other knowledge management applications.

Key to providing value in this age of instant information is the importance of inter-application communication between business processes in the value chain. These business-to-business (B2B) transactions encompass establishing direct links with trading partners - either "upstream" to suppliers or "downstream" to distributors and re sellers.

Integration and Transformation
Systems Integration will suddenly take on a whole new meaning, as a wide range of complex and dynamic systems become linked not only at the Application, Desktop, and interdepartmental levels, but as well, across an increasingly chaotic mix of boundaries involving a wide array of various Platforms, Corporations, Industries and even Countries.

Business transformation will become greatly accelerated as a result of an increasing reliance on information at all levels.

Up and Down and All Around
N-Tier computing environments, help ensure coherent communication to and from Components at multiple tiers, existing from "Front-to-Back" or "Top-to-Bottom" (Client-to-Service or DataSource-to-Interface), as well as coherent communication at multiple tiers existing from "Side-to-Side" or even "Inside-Out". (Inter-Department or Inter-Corporation level)

N-Tier frameworks allow programmers to focus on the work of tying Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Financial and Human Resources applications to a Web-enabled front office, in a consistent manner.

Transforming Distributed Data into Concentrated Knowledge.
N-Tier computing helps in the dynamic aggregation and filtering process of turning distributed bits of data into information, information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom, thereby allowing people to make smart choices, whereever and whenever they need.
A Global System
We are all part of a rapidly evolving complex system, that is constantly changing and adapting, both as a whole, and as individual points in a dynamic matrix of objects, processes and events.

Like a infinitely complex fractal geographic image we will watch fantastic new patterns emerge, at both Micro and Macro levels.

Also See ~ Links on Chaos & Complexity ~

Read more in ~ Avoiding Intranet Chaos ~

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©N-Tier Inc. 1999