The Six Faces of IT Complexity

I received an email from Roger Sessions, announcing his most recent issue of the ObjectWatch Quarterly Newsletter. ObjectWatch Newsletter is now in its thirteenth year of publication. He has written seven books including Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises and many articles. In each issue, Sessions comments about one topic. This time, the topic of the Issue #57 (August 2008) is “The Six Faces of IT Complexity”. You can download the PDF version from:

Issue #57 (August 2008)

He has been studying IT complexity for several years now. Sessions has concluded that the vast majority of IT complexity falls into six categories. According him, if you can control these six categories, you can dramatically reduce the complexity that is choking your IT projects and preventing them from delivering business value.

These are the six causes of IT complexity Session enumerates (I take description from his articles and posts):

  1. Decompositional Failures – that is, systems that have not been decomposed into small enough subsets.
  2. Recompositional Failures – that is, systems that have been decomposed into subsets that are too small and have not been recomposed appropriately.
  3. Partitioning Failures – that is, systems in which either data and/or functionality has been divided into subsets that do not represent true partitions.
  4. Synergistic Failures – that is, systems in which functionality and/or data placement does not pass the test for synergy.
  5. Boundary Failures – that is, systems in which the boundaries between subsets are weak.
  6. Removal Failures – occur when there is functionality in a system that is unnecessary.

Read the article to a more detailed discussion, with real examples.

I know Sessions’ work since his book: Software Fortresses (I commented the book in an Spanish post), where Sessions gave us a new way to think about Service-Oriented and Enterprise Architectures.

Sites to visit:

The whitepapers at:

(I have to read one comparing enterprise architecture methodologies, like Zachman Framework)

Newletters index at:

(there are issues dedicated to SOA, complexity, Software as a Service, Enterprise Architecture…)

and Sessions’ new blog:

Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises

promoting and discussing his new book of the same title:

(at Amazon)

Angel “Java” Lopez

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