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The Camel Architecture

Years ago, back in college, a teacher of mine defined “Camel Architecture” as a “horse designed by the collective”. It was kind of funny but my teacher was not joking. As students we had to do everything: sketches, design, drawings, model, and depending on how advanced we are in the career we also have to calculate structure, electrical installations, etc. In technology as well as traditional architecture a single individual may wear several hats. This condition is primarily determined by the size of the project or the size of the company. The smaller is the company or the project the more likely we will see one person taking care of everything.

In a large project or a large company responsibilities are often times split among several people: the team. When roles and responsibilities are properly defined, one person will take care of the horse’s head, another will deal with the legs, and other members will focus on other parts. Now, this is in the ideal world. In reality the larger the team or the company is, the bigger is the chance that the horse will look like a camel.

In a table full of professionals that have been tasked with designing a horse, the number one goal is to agree on what a horse is. There are two implicit goals here: the number one is to achieve agreement; and the second it to define the horse. When roles, responsibilities and areas of expertise are well delimited, it is easier to reach consensus in a group. The lack of this delimitation will make more difficult to focus on the subject instead of focusing on avoiding conflicts.

Architecture is a discipline in which complex ideas can always be expressed in simple words. It must be understood by everyone. The downside of this beautiful quality is that everyone who is not an architect might have an opinion in architecture matters. An architect might say: the concept of the building is going to be a horse. Everybody has an idea of what a horse looks like but when it comes to define ‘the specific horse’ we sometimes might see significant variations from one person to another.

If we were to design a building with the form of a horse, we may have the owner requesting the head to be smaller; structural engineer may demand the legs to be longer with big feet; the financial guy may remind us to add more room in the back to make more money; the long tail might be a liability issue if it breaks so if have to be shorten. Everyone will have a unique perspective of the same reality and as you can see little by little the collective could turn a horse into a camel through consensus.

2008 Accomplishments

Created a modular and extensible Programming Framework (Outlet), to build video players, CMS and other applications. Outlet reduces the development time by encapsulating functionality into portable components. These components are reusable across different projects and businesses inside and outside NBCU.

Other benefits include:

  • Easy to adopt and implement
  • Maximize efficiency. Component only have to be written once
  • The framework boundaries allow writing software 50% faster
  • It is a unique proprietary NBCU Framework that integrates C++, Java, JavaScript and ActionScript
  • Facilitated an environment for easy collaboration between vendors (i.e. Pando, Industry Next, Extend Media, Yume and Widevine)

Architected and led the development of the new AS3 Online Video Player to benefit NBCU businesses. These businesses include:

  • NBC.com
  • USA Networks
  • SciFi
  • Petside.com
  • Bravo
  • Access Hollywood

Architected an unique advertising experience to serve all businesses at once. Direct benefits are:

  • Give all the site equal opportunities of monetization
  • Stability and confidence in the product
  • Easy to update and scale

Architected and managed the User Interface (UI) and Information Architecture (AI) of the NBC Direct 2.0 (Download Video Player). NBC Direct reduces the content delivery cost by 70-75% through usage of P2P technology. It Creates new monetization opportunities while video can be watch offline.

Managed the UI, IA and design of the NBCU Media Publisher, and also architected the entire front-end. This application presents the following enhancements:

  • Friendly Interface
  • Great stability
  • Simplified and responsive UI
  • Optimized workflow
  • Easy access to the data
  • Extensible via configuration files

Accomplished releasing the following products:

  • Hulu Distribution Video Player
  • NBC.com User Generated Content Video Player
  • NBCU Media Publisher (closed Beta)
  • Embedded Player 4.0 and 4.1
  • SciFi Feature Player (Alpha)
  • USA Feature Player