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Pace Layered Architecture – Fundamentals

The concept of Pace Layered Architecture is not new and was first released by Gartner in 2012 as a means of addressing the challenges arising from a changing relationship between business and IT; such as:


  • The pace of business requiring much quicker turnaround of innovation.
  • Increased business self-autonomy, particularly with the prominence of accessible cloud SaaS subscriptions – sometimes bypassing IT altogether.
  • The need to balance speed and agility with resilience and security.

There is a gap developing between the business users of enterprise applications and the IT professionals charged with providing these applications,” said Yvonne Genovese, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “The business leaders are looking for modern, easy-to-use applications that can be quickly deployed to solve a specific problem or respond to a market opportunity. The IT organisation is typically working toward a strategic goal of standardising on a limited set of comprehensive application suites in order to minimise integration issues, maximise security and reduce IT costs. These competing goals often lead to strategic misalignment.

The Theory:

Gartner’s approach to this looked to simplify the distinction between business vision of common ideas, different ideas and new ideas. It defined three architectural layers that would share common elements but be governed by different principles suited to the distinct goals that drive the requirement. Their definition of these levels is as follows, with much more in-depth documentation around the properties of each layer available from Gartner.

  • Systems of Record (SoR) — Established packaged applications or legacy homegrown systems that support core transaction processing and manage the organisation’s critical master data. The rate of change is low, because the processes are well-established and common to most organisations, and often are subject to regulatory requirements.
  • Systems of Differentiation (SoD) — Applications that enable unique company processes or industry-specific capabilities. They have a medium life cycle (one to three years), but need to be reconfigured frequently to accommodate changing business practices or customer requirements.
  • Systems of Innovation (SoI) — New applications that are built on an ad hoc basis to address new business requirements or opportunities. These are typically short life cycle projects (zero to 12 months) using departmental or outside resources and consumer-grade technologies.
Central to this concept was the idea of “Common Elements of Connective Tissue” which bind the different layers and allow them to provide service to each other. Sharing security, analytics and data allowed an organisation to operate as one, and central to this core concept was process and data integration – the ability to share resources between systems across layers.


Pace Layered Architecture

Source: Gartner (January 2012)

The Integration Context:


To be able to innovate integration was recognised as the glue between the layers. The speed desired to deliver a system of Innovation based on core data requires pre-investment in exposing core master data and processes from the systems of record through to the systems of differentiation. SOA and BPM strategies were responsible for driving the definitions of the enterprise building blocks. Today, these reusable services are typically implemented via APIs as a simple, fast and secure way of exposing data for consumers.
API Gateways provides that layer of governance and access control, whilst exposing services in easily consumed packages to allow near instant access to the required data set without the usual long-winded project engagement and implementation. It also provides a secure and cost-effective environment to support the interoperability of core business processes. This allows that key innovation to proceed at pace, to remain ahead of disruptive challengers, or even to become a disruptor.
One of the keys to enable Pace layering within your business is to start by abstracting the complexity and removing all the tensions that are usually associated with Integration. The usual approach of making a change to back-end ERP systems (SoR) per project, should be redefined into “process based” services that can be consumed as and when needed by the business. For example a common requirement such as the material master data (technical) object, should be turned into human readable API definition that is published across the organisation in a way that resonates with the business teams. You may build multiple API’s (layers) to get there but in doing so you have made the time to market quicker and released tension.
An integration strategy that supports a Pace Layered approach to your business is essential in a world where speed of connectivity and data sharing is key to business success.
Get in touch to find out more:

  • If you would like to learn more about how to setup your Integration landscape to meet the varied demands of a pace-layered architecture have a look at our Integration Strategy Jumpstart package.
  • If you want your integration capability to be scaled to deliver on varied requirements have a look at our Multi-modal Enablement package for further details.

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