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5 new books for a fresh perspective on enterprise architecture

The demands on cloud architects requires new approaches to technology delivery that encompass technology and the people who make it. Here are five must-read books that will open your mind to the challenge.
Stack of books

The drive to cloud native and the modernization of enterprise systems has continued well into 2021. Last year we presented a pick of six must-read books for aspiring architects keen to expand their minds and expertise in the complex and cross-disciplinary world of cloud architecture.

As 2021 moves into its second half, we dip into the best of the latest and forthcoming books that’ll challenge your thinking and provide a fresh perspective on technology, organization, and design.

Practical Process Automation

Cover of Practical Process Automation by Bernd Ruecker

Author, and Camunda CTO, Bernd Ruecker has followed up his 2019 guide for process designers, Real-Life BPMN, with a new book cutting to the heart of application modernization in the cloud. Practical Process Automation tackles the theoretical and technical issues involved in implementing redesigning systems for cloud-native and/or building net new.

Randy Shoup, VP of Engineering and Chief Architect at eBay, had this to say about Ruecker’s book: “Weaving together ideas from microservices, event-driven systems, and Domain-Driven Design, this book describes when, why, and how to effectively leverage workflows within a modern software architecture. Taking a pragmatic practitioner’s approach, it uses real-world examples and explores the pros and cons of multiple alternative patterns in detail. It should be on every architect’s bookshelf.”

Microservices and distributed computing have become fundamental to any architecture-modernization strategy. We enter modernization with the highest expectations: the resulting architecture will deliver a system that fully supports the business. That is, flexible enough to support instant change and long-term growth, combined with top performance.

However, microservices and distributed computing architectures bring with them challenges and a complexity that can rain on your parade. Delivering on the promise of cloud and application modernization means overcoming the challenges of decoupling, distancing, and seeing your system as a platform rather than a set of individual technologies.

Ruecker explains you can overcome this by applying process automation for resiliency, messaging, orchestration, and the consistency needed for current services. He discusses process automation versus batch process management, service-oriented architecture, and other ideas—also, options for designing architectures that help you realize process automation and how to achieve low-latency through automation in distributed cloud-based environments.

The Modern Cloud Data Platform

Cover of the Modern Cloud Data Platform

Modern architecture requires a modern data platform—but what does "modern" mean in a fast-changing field such as business technology? Data architectures have evolved over the years, from databases to data warehouses and data lakes—we've seen the rise and fall of batch processing, and the pendulum has swung back from all-in on NoSQL to some kind of new normal.

How do you build for the future without becoming a prisoner of legacy and changing fad?

In The Modern Cloud Data Platform, Alice LaPlante makes a case for a hybrid route to "modern"

that the author calls the "data lake house." This is a cloud-native idea that embraces different technologies and data types and different outcomes and uses rather than shoehorn us into another idea. This is welcome for the enterprise whose heritage of investments and legacy infrastructure must be carried into the new world and cannot be written off. As LaPlante notes: "Without a holistic, cloud-native approach, you are setting yourself up for replacing an outdated architecture with another that won't deliver the goods over the long term."

The basis for Modern Cloud Data Platform and the data lake house is a survey canvassing 3,000 data professionals on the state of cloud data platform architectures, their challenges, and the criteria people considered necessary for their next data architecture.

97 Things Every SRE Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts

Cover of 97 Things Every SRE Should Know

Some years ago, Google's Benjamin Treynor Sloss introduced the concept of Site Reliability Engineering to engineers (SREs). Hailing from Google, naturally, everybody sat up and took notice. SRE offered a practical way to create and manage scalable and reliable systems through code running on thousands or hundreds of thousands of machines. Through software, SRE automated the tasks once performed manually by operations teams and handed them to engineers.

In late 2020, editors Jamie Woo and Emil Stolarsky published 97 Things Every SRE Should Know—a practical guide to implementing SRE. This book is packed with tips and advice—based on the collected writings of industry experts and practitioners spanning Google, Facebook, Squarespace, Shopify, and more. Woo and Stolarsky have arranged an impressive line-up of contributors, including DevOps guru Dr. Nicole Forsgren, author Alex Hidalgo, and product engineer Fatema Boxwala.

Woo and Stolarsky have a career fascination with this topic—their firm, Incident Labs, specializes in solving incidents and devising best practices. 97 Things should make compelling reading for those who seek a grounding in ways of scaling their systems and making their management friction-free.

User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play

Cover of How the Hidden Rules of Design are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play

"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works," so Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is reputed to have said—a successful Mac, iPhone, and iPad business supported by billions of loyal customers later, Jobs was proved right. The design of such consumer devices gets endlessly debated. Still, nowhere is "how" consumer device design works more critical than in the enterprise, and at no time is that consideration more urgent than now, as systems architecture must integrate and enable business operations to deliver seamless service to customers and employees.

In their book, Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant discuss the user experience of everyday things over centuries of change, from machine-age and monolithic systems to the iPhone and bots.

They trace the hidden rules of how design shapes our behavior and how those rules have changed and made our lives easier. They tackle a subject that's been, at best hidden, or worse, the preserve of a relative few. Publishers Weekly has described this as: "[An] engrossing history of how the design of commercial products and technological innovations can be singularly focused on user experience."

In the era of enterprise modernization and consumerization of service, effective design has become the concern of anybody and everybody involved in the task of building new systems.

The Delicate Art of Bureaucracy: Digital Transformation with the Monkey, the Razor, and the Sumo Wrestler

Cover of the Delicate Art of Bureaucracy

Mark Schwartz is the former CIO of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service who convinced the US federal government to adopt Agile and DevOps practices on software. He currently works as Amazon Web Services’ Enterprise Strategist and is an author and speaker on organizational change and IT leadership.

In The Delicate Art of Bureaucracy, his second book, Mark throws a lifeline to those grappling with the task of leading and implementing technology change inside the enterprise. He uses a combination of history, philosophy, and experiences as a civil servant working in one of the world's largest and most complex bureaucracies. This playbook centers around techniques he calls the Monkey, Razor, and Sumo Wrestler to help overcome roadblocks in the enterprise by producing a more streamlined system that works in your favor.

Great reads in 2021

Good architecture has never been more essential, yet the practice, the technologies, and the desired outcomes have never been through such a state of change. Listening to the experience of others while—also—getting an insight into the known and unknown issues that can affect a successful deployment is priceless. This selection of reads should help towards that goal.

What are your top technology and transformation reads for 2021? Email us at to let us know. 

Topics:   Career   Leadership   Strategy  
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Gavin Clarke

As a journalist in the US and UK, Gavin has covered the technology, business and personalities of Silicon Valley and high tech. More about me

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