ARTICLES

Understanding Layered Architecture

29th April 2024

Matt Kroll

Matthew Kroll, Managing Director

 

Today, I’m delving into an important design element of our platform: layered architecture. While I understand this topic will resonate more with those involved in software and systems, I believe it to be equally important for business owners to understand the long-term benefits of the structure on which Titan is built.

Especially now, architecture is vital as automotive businesses adapt to the wave of digital disruption which will continue to be introduced over the next decade.

Introduction:

Our software is built with one goal in mind – to make your business operations smoother and more efficient. The layered architecture approach ensures we do this in a reliable and adaptable manner to meet the evolving needs of the industry.

Here are our layers and the key technologies we employ within each one. Below that is an overview of what each layer does and the benefits of building in this manner.

Titan layered Architecture

 

Understanding Layered Architecture:

Layered architecture is a framework. Think of it as the structure of our platform, providing a clear system that controls how everything works together. There are three key elements to each layer:

  • It is independent of the layer beneath
  • It is independent of the layer on top
  • It is connected to both

Our platform consists of five core layers:

  • Data Layer (Microsoft SQL server within AWS): The heart of our system. This stores all your dealership data in one place so it’s secure, easy to access, and available for use.
  • Business Logic Data Layer Interface (C#): This layer acts as the translator, ensuring the data is transformed into useful information that helps you make decisions.
  • Business Logic Layer (Microsoft IIS): Acts as a decoupling mechanism to ensure independence between the Data and Business Logic Layer. Adding maintainability and future-proofing to the architecture.
  • Network Layer (Web services via HTTPS): This layer provides the connection from the Titan DMS business logic to your device, securely and efficiently.
  • Presentation Layer (Microsoft .NET): Finally, this is what you see and interact with—the user-friendly interface on your screen.

So what does this mean to you? Well, quite a lot actually. Here are just some of the key benefits of a layered architecture approach to system design:

  • Scalability: Our platform can grow with your business. Each layer is enterprise-grade and highly extensible, allowing us to handle more data and tasks as your operation expands, without slowing down.
  • Flexibility: Should we need to change how the system works, the layered approach allows us to adapt quickly by applying updates in one place without affecting the other layers. Importantly, it also allows for wholesale changes to technology at a layer level, ensuring we can stay abreast of new technologies as they emerge and not have to ‘stack’ additional technologies on expired tech in an effort not to upset other layers.
  • Reliability: In addition to having enterprise-grade technologies, having well-defined layers allows for a multitude of external tools that allow us to monitor performance, reliability, and security. You can count on your data being safe and your system running smoothly courtesy of this.
  • Modularity: If something does go wrong, it can usually be isolated quite quickly given the layer responsible should be evident. This minimises downtime and decreases the time required for fault finding.
  • Interoperability: There are a lot of technical benefits to this, but put simply, Titan DMS plays nice with other systems. It’s easy to integrate with the tools you already use and would like to use in the future.
  • Cybersecurity: Each layer and technology comes with its own approach to securing it. From Encryption at Rest with SQL through to the Secure Sockets Layer associated with HTTPS, your data is protected by multiple layers of security and layering reduces the chances of a potential breach.

The Alternative Architecture

The primary architectural alternative, that layering superseded, is often referred to as monolithic.

Whilst the term itself is used differently depending on whether the conversation involves microservices, in general, Monolithic architecture involves either a lack of layering (and the associated benefits above) or a system where layers have an interdependency with other layers to fulfill their function. These systems have become increasingly outdated but still exist today, often with larger business systems that did not have modern layered technologies available when they were conceived.

Why should you care?

The primary reason for concern with poorly architectured systems is the significant challenges they face in scaling and updating. This leads to a lack of innovation, costly maintenance, and additional layers placed on top of (or around) existing technologies to compensate, rather than replace the outdated technologies themselves.

I see the declining path for these architectures as self-fulfilling, and I believe that understanding what goes into a well-architectured system is an important consideration when planning your future business goals.

Regards

Matt

 

 

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