The Guide to Practical and Pragmatic IT Architecture Design

IT Architecture simply explained

Many people ask me what is the role of  Architecture in a project and in a company. It is simple: Architecture is important. And to explain that I compare it to a city. 

Architecture Scope 

One example I frequently use to explain the depth and scope of architecture is what you have in a city:
  • Houses and Buildings: You can compare the office buildings as applications. Houses are small applications, skyscrapers are main core systems. The neighborhoods form silos of applications and have their own ecosystems,
  • People as Data: The persons in the buildings need to move and visit other offices and go back to their houses. They are the ones who have information that is needed or required to be exchanged to do their work.
  • Roads as interfaces: The interconnections between buildings are roads, and that is where is the traffic. Some roads are small and are sufficient for its daily traffic, other roads need to accommodate large volumes of cars and therefore need to be wider. 
  • Shops as Services and integrations: Employees and consumers can walk in a shop, browse the products on the shelves (query) and buy them at the checkout (transaction). You could even take the parallel with a shopping center as an integration platform (like an Enterprise Service Bus or API management platform). 
Explain IT Architecture

Architect Key Roles 

And once you have the city, you need to run the city, so you need to have:
  • the city mayor, he/she has the vision how the city landscape will look like and how it will grow over the next years. Next, you have
  • the judge who decides in simple but also in difficult cases a judgement how to advance. Not just between 2 people but also between companies. And lastly, you have 
  • the police who guards and secures that anything is aligned with the legislation, standards and policies. 
An architect takes all these 3 key roles and responsibilities. In one way the architect is the person with the vision. He/she also needs to make decisions in case of problems how to go forward. And as a guide, the architect needs to secure that any new or existing development is aligned with the standards and vision determined. 

Therefore architecture has a key role in how IT and its enterprise landscape evolves over time. This applies to the enterprise architect looking at the overall corporation, but also to the application, technology, data and infrastructure architects. 

This simple parallel even though how simple it may seem, provides people a better insight to what architecture is and does. 

So, as an architect, the role is to design, build and govern the city, a building or the roads between. One can decide to build a very extensive city with many high rise buildings, another one may decide to build a lot of small houses. And for each case, its fundaments whether it is a road, house, building need to be properly designed and sized. We show that in the next sections in this site. 

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