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Blood baristas bourbon and solution architecture

by Bruce Ensha

Coffee Cup
Quentin Tarantino movies, that trendy barista at your local coffee shop and a good American bourbon have one thing in common. They can all help me to explain – to some extent – what solution architecture is and how interrelated it is with other components of software delivery.


Confused? Look, that’s fair enough. Allow me to use a few crazy analogies to explain how I see solution architecture in enterprise, websites and platforms.


Only a slightly insane visionary like Tarantino can tell a story upside down and have it still make sense. The reason: he has a dream of the final product.

There’s a fascinating amount of blood in all eight of Tarantino’s films – it’s his signature.

Blood is how he prefers to hook you and keep you on the edge of your seat. He could choose other methods, other storytelling materials, but he prefers to orchestrate his toolbox of actors, technicians and songs to deliver an epic bloody pinnacle at the end of most of his films.

Technology is used in the solution – you build your platform on this. Like Tarantino using gore as his signature, in architecture the type of technology you use is something you decide on early and use throughout your architecture design. The platform, the CMS or the technology you choose for your solution at the start is as important as the methods and architecture you utilise to deliver your final software product.


There’s a lot of technique, experience and practice that goes into a barista making the delicious coffee that you might sometimes take for granted. The temperature, the quality and type of coffee beans, the perfect milk swirl and, of course, that damn latte art, all play a part. Add the pressure of morning caffeine demand and a tiny workspace, and soon the barista’s challenge of keeping their cool and staying professional will become more apparent.

The engineering team who develop the solution are the technical people who can put everything together. They can deliver the vision and the product. The architecture of the solution will be designed under the influence of the entire engineering team, so that it can address different requirements of business, infrastructure, performance, security and so on.


Bourbon is a beautifully aged product. To produce and distil bourbon at scale, it takes many hours, hundreds of barrels, an exciting amount of tasting (I love that part), tonnes of yeast and corn, and a lot of waiting. You have to master the chemistry and the technique, and follow five rules to even be able to call your product a bourbon. You should know how it was made traditionally and be an expert on the best and greatest machines, processes and technology.

Your enterprise solution is your product. Like producing a fine bourbon, all the processes and efforts result in the successful delivery of your product or platform. You should have a vision of what the end result will look like and you continuously deliver features of your product in an iterative way.

Making sense of the above

An enterprise solution with all of its parts requires a well thought-out solution architecture that utilises a given or preferred technology (blood) to its fullest capacity with the help of a team of technicians (baristas) who can and will deliver the final product (bourbon).

There are certain decisions you want to get right in your solution design phase at the start of the project. These are the ones the technical team and solution architect perceive as being the hard ones to change later on. These decisions, along with the vision of a quality product and the agile approach your team will adopt, make up the architecture of your enterprise solution. And the solution architect will continue to reiterate the vision throughout the journey until final delivery.

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