One of the key elements of a multi-tiered application is often referred to as “business logic.” These are the instructions written by developers so computers can conduct the calculations necessary to perform various important functions specifically for a business. Consider, for example, the need to charge different rates of sales tax depending on where a product is being sold. Business logic is the section of the application that would look up the rate and then apply that rate to the transaction.

When companies refer to the “enterprise” or enterprise application development, this is most often what they mean. According to Forbes, the “enterprise” category of software is one that is designed to support business operations of one kind or another. An attorney might use it to manage client retainer agreements. A car dealership might use it to keep track of certain kinds of after-market parts and their prices. In nearly every instance, this kind of software and the things it is designed to do can be called “enterprise” class software.

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Multi-Tier Development

Very early in the desktop computer revolution, businesses elected to consolidate most of their important operations on central servers. At the time, these servers were referred to as “back office” machines, while the desktops were referred to as clients. Once the business server became the platform of choice for companies, it became necessary to create a multi-tiered application architecture so developers could install business operations on the server and user interfaces on the client.

Eventually, the back office operations were further divided into database operations on the one hand and business logic on the other. The difference between the two was that business or enterprise class databases tended to be self-contained servers while the code that performed necessary calculations for the business tended to be custom developed for each company’s unique needs. This practice of dividing development into different categories became known as “n-tier” development.

Modular Advantage

The strength of the n-tier approach is the ability to swap out different business logic and maintain the proper error-free functions of the other tiers. This is accomplished by something called an “application programming interface” or API, which is a set of functions that remains static while the actual implementation of those functions may or may not change inside the library of code they represent.

These “dynamic” code libraries are one of the major technologies that make modern PC and mobile software possible.

Network Advantage

Once modular, or “distributed” programming, became practical, it was only a matter of time before it was adapted for use over a network. This is where enterprise computing really came into its own, according to PC Magazine, as it became possible for companies to not only share their business logic internally but to make their API available across the Internet so anyone could make use of it, provided they followed the rules according to the published interface. This was the beginning of the modern “cloud.”

Enterprise computing is a general term, to be sure, but its meaning developed over many years of refinement in businesses that needed ways to make their applications more versatile, less prone to errors and more compatible across different operating systems and hardware architectures. The power of the applications available to companies today is a result of the foundations laid decades ago when enterprise computing was a brand new idea.