An overview of IT Architecture

Drivers for IT Architecture:
  • The cost of information technology, particularly in lean economic times.
  • The increasing complexity of information technology.
  • The rapid pace of change and hence rapid obsolescence of information technology.
  • The increasing expectations of end-users for information technology reliability, performance and functionality.
  • Increased societal dependence upon information technology.
  • The widespread ‘quality chasm’ between information technology best practices and actual day-to-day practice, particularly in the area of software development.
  • Security concerns and requirements.
Common features of IT Architectures:
  • High-level statement of IT Architecture goals and governing principles (Vision).
  • Conceptual model of the ‘architecture’ of the organization, including models of agency business functions and processes, agency information assets, and agency information technology (Architecture).
  • Standards that define how applications are developed, which technologies are supported, and what products are selected. (Standards).
  • Governance structure that includes business leaders and technologists to ensure ongoing alignment between the organization’s business priorities and information technology efforts (Governance).
  • Continual re-examination of the IT Architecture to identify opportunities for enhanced organizational cost-effectiveness and performance (Lifecycle).

The enterprise is becoming more complex with reduced time levels to level products and services to market. Customers and regulators also demand a better accountability. As a result there is a greater dependence on IT.

The IT environment thus needs to be better understood and aligned to business processes.

Architecture maturity
Gartner proposes the following architecture maturity model.
  1. Chaotic - Ad-hoc, Uncoordinated, Undocumented, Unrelated to business strategies.
  2. Reactive - Isolated, Opportunistic, Business involvement only in times of crisis.
  3. Proactive -Some coordination across business units, Spasmodic documentation, Occasional business involvement.
  4. Service - Consistent architecture processes applied inconsistently, Coordination across most business units, Responsive to business strategy.
  5. Value - Consistent, effective architecture management process, Coordination across the enterprise, Enable business strategies.
Reasons for IT Architecture are:
  • Alignment - ensuring the reality of the implemented enterprise is aligned with management’s intent
  • Integration - realizing that the business rules are consistent across the organization, that the data and its use are immutable, interfaces and information flow are standardized, and the connectivity and interoperability are managed across the enterprise
  • Change - facilitating and managing change to any aspect of the enterprise
  • Time-to-market - reducing systems development, applications generation, modernization timeframes, and resource requirements
  • Convergence - striving toward a standard IT product portfolio.
Benefits of IT Architecture:
  • Capture facts about the mission, functions, and business foundation in an understandable manner to promote better planning and decision-making
  • Improve communication among the business organizations and IT organizations within the enterprise through a standardized vocabulary
  • Provide architectural views that help communicate the complexity of large systems and facilitate management of extensive, complex environments
  • Focus on the strategic use of emerging technologies to better manage the enterprise«s information and consistently insert those technologies into the enterprise
  • Improve consistency, accuracy, timeliness, integrity, quality, availability, access, and sharing of IT-managed information across the enterprise
  • Support the CPIC processes by providing a tool for assessment of benefits, impacts, and capital investment measurements and supporting analyses of alternatives, risks, and tradeoffs
  • Highlight opportunities for building greater quality and flexibility into applications without increasing cost
  • Achieve economies of scale by providing mechanisms for sharing services across the enterprise
  • Expedite integration of legacy, migration, and new systems
  • Ensure legal and regulatory compliance.