Friday, February 15, 2008

Centralised vs. Decentralised Data (continued...)

I had a comment from John on my last post, which I'd like to take the opportunity to discuss.

John suggests that the centralised approach is just plain easier to design, implement and most importantly, think about. I can't say I agree. Once making the shift to thinking in an event driven paradigm, the decentralised approach is actually very natural and as such is easier to design, implement and think about.

The decentralised approach produces an architecture with considerably less coupling. As a result of this, each service is easier to design and implement as you are only really concerned with one service at a time. Moreover, the architecture is less sensitive to change, so the overall system becomes easier to implement as changes are more localised to each service.

John also questions whether the customer really cares about and is prepared to pay for the advantages that decentralisation offers. In my experience, the decentralised approach delivers a better solution faster, so it actually turns out to be the cheaper alternative. One reason for this is you have considerably fewer message exchanges to worry about and implement.

Moreover, when looking at the cost of a system over its entire lifetime, the development cost pales in comparison to the maintenance cost. Due to the looser coupling offered by the decentralised approach, maintenance costs are substantially lower.

And finally, I believe that the performance and reliability problems of the centralised approach outlined in my last post are deal breakers. Will a customer be satisfied with a solution where rebooting a single system takes down all other dependent systems?

So I would suggest that yes, the customer will in fact care about the approach taken, as the decentralised approach delivers a system that is cheaper to implement, easier to change and easier to operate.


Anonymous said...


With a decentralised approach you would you double up on data around the place?

How do you keep data shared between services in sync?

When a service updates a bit of shared data does it broadcast to the world it has done this?

Or do other services subscribe to that service so it has a list of services to inform of updates?

How does it work if two or more services try to update the same thing at the same time?

Broadcast some kind of lock event to all other interested services?

Is that less chatty than having it centralised?

Bill said...

Please see my follow up post for my responses to your very valid questions.