Best of breed or best of suite

In (domain or enterprise software) architecture, there are to generic patterns you’ll likely come across often, yet many developers does not seem to be familiar with them and knowing a bit about them may help understand why some choices are made when building a complete software stack across a company or enterprise.

These are:

  • Best of suite
  • Best of Breed.

When adopting the “best of suite” strategy, the Enterprise Architecture will seek to find big software suites, which can over a large domains. One of the most often picked suites is often Microsoft OFfice, where Word, Excel, Powerpoint and the other applications included in Microsoft office comes a single package - a suite.

When daopting the “best of breed” pattern, the enterprise architecture will seek to find the best application for every need - and not consider any preference for seleting a coherent suite. In the above example, instead of picket Microsoft office as a single suite, the best application in every category. It could be Word for as a wordprocesor, but Keynote for presentations and Google Sheets for managing numbers.

The suite versus breed does apply to any software need in the enterprise and could apply to any area - ERP, HR-systems or any other area the company needs fulfilled by software.

When choosing best of suite…

  • You assume the integration between the applications are easy and seamless.
  • You believe the individual applications are “good enough” or at least sufficient to fulfil your needs.
  • You expect the operations will be simpler, as a single vendor provides the solution (and may be support it).
  • Potential vendor lock-in - and/or - dependency on vendor strategy and roadmap to keep being the best suite for you needs.

When choosing best of breed…

  • You pick the very best applications and will invest in integrations as needed.
  • You assume picking the best will provide more value than a coherent suite.
  • You may need to handle multiple vendors and license terms.
  • It’s likely easier to replace one or more applications if needed.