Real Life Mimicking IT life – Showers (& Architecture)

Here at Chateau Clark & Son we’ve had a whizzy new electric shower fitted as part of a bathroom renovation project.  Specifically, its this one from Bathstore’s Assure range.

NB: Before I go any further – the product is great and performs perfectly.  It has been installed and operational for a week, as of the date of this post.

After unpacking, it quickly became apparent it has a three-tier architecture.  I’ve drawn-up a the logical view in the diagram below.

This approach is useful because it allows the display unit to be as small as possible and the ungainly pipe work to be elsewhere.

Theoretically, this should allow easier replacement of faulty components, but like may of these items, I suspect they come as a single package for maximum revenue generation.  I should add that Bathstore seem to have a good spares store; cant see anything about the Assure though.  The hard work of designers to put layering in their technology, only to be undone by money-(wo)men .  Real life really does mimic IT! 🙂

Rather than just muse about the repair-ability – there is something more interesting in the physical architecture.  See the diagram below.

Figure 1: Assure – As-Is

The Control Panel is connected to the ‘Four Outlets Diverter’ unit.  But, the water temperature mixing is done by the ‘Digital Thermostatic Processor’.  This is daft and means the connection between the Digital Thermostatic Processor and ‘Four Outlets Diverter’ has to be a richer and more involved connection that it needs to.

It’s the equivalent of connecting the presentation layer of a 3-tier architecture to the database and allowing the database to drive the logic layer.

So far, so armchair architect; what would I have done?  See the diagram below.

Figure 2: Assure – How I would Have Done It!

This makes the interface between each layer, clean and simple with a defined purpose, thus:

  • Control Panel – Digital Thermostatic Processor: communicates the desired temperature and outlet
  • Digital Thermostatic Processor – Four Outlet Diverter: [just] the desired outlet

This is exactly the kind of weirdness you find in enterprise IT, but its often difficult to find real life analogies to explain the anti-patterns to those who either haven’t come across this or don’t understand why it matters.

Notes

  1. In the diagrams, I have shown HV power – in fact this is a standard step-down transformer to 12VDC – I used HV for clarity
  2. The clunky titles of the components is used in the documentation – not my choice
  3. The flow rate of the shower is fixed, so there is no extra flow rate requirement to communicate – as we live in a low water pressure area – this is just as well!

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