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Beyond the Framework: Finding the Right Architecture for your IT Infrastructure

~ Authored by Robert Miller & Michael Kappes

Team working and diagnosing a mainframe. Team member writing notes on laptop.

IT Architecture should be driven by value and purpose, requisites, process, synthesis and analysis. IT infrastructures must be built upon a robust framework of components that interface to keep everything connected and intact. If your infrastructure isn't grounded in value, information and integration, it can easily become out of control, tangled up with siloed subsystems that should connect and interface, but don't. It begins failing to function for the critical needs of your company. Finding the right architecture that facilitates your infrastructure requires figuring out what fits your company's particular paradigm. This takes working with your company's primary stakeholders to determine how they quantify and measure the value of their company's IT architecture.

IT Architecture Must Fit Enterprise Goals and Objectives

Assess for success. Create quantifiable milestones. Tie as many of those milestones to the realization of the company’s goals as possible. Objectives and goals aren't the same thing. Objectives are well-defined, concrete steps that one follows to attain their goals. Architects must interface with stakeholders to determine how they define success and risk in relation to company objectives and subsequent goals. IT systems get skewed when architects assume what an enterprise needs and create an architecture for themselves and not for the business. It is imperative to assess what an enterprise is trying to accomplish, what's not working, and what the endgame is beyond finding an optimum ROI. If the architectural framework doesn’t create the right focus, then the IT infrastructure is more likely to fail.

IT Architecture Evolves

Using canned IT architectural blueprints doesn't cut it anymore. Today's architectural methodologies delve beyond a framework that simply supports the IT department's initiatives. The right architecture approach is multi-layered, scalable and interoperable across the entire enterprise --from executive goals and objectives to the ever-evolving technology that sends information across the world at lightning speed. Technology evolves as fast as it leaves the showroom floor. Your IT architecture is always changing with it. The question is whether you will guide that change, or be constantly trying to catch up.  What applications worked when an enterprise started may not work in its growth. If an enterprise is working with a "legacy architectural framework", it is not likely to be working efficiently, and enterprise security is at risk. If your old architecture approach fails to support your company's growing IT infrastructure, it affects your entire enterprise and that affects your company's bottom line.

IT Architecture Should Look Beyond Heuristics

Heuristics is a set of rules that deals with finding accurate solutions for immediate problems in a time frame that's also acceptable to the players involved. Heuristic analysis is indeed a useful and necessary tool, but today's mission-critical information streams beyond everyday quick fixes. Quick fixes manage the here and now. But you have to work beyond immediacy. Enterprise architecture should encompass the entire corporate landscape in a continuum that advances company goals and objectives, supports an enterprise's ground level capabilities, mid-level road maps, and upper echelon strategies. A solid architecture strategy takes the entire enterprise beyond disparate quick fixes to cohesive mapping that supports your IT infrastructure over the long haul. In the dynamic world of today’s technology however, you need to be able to focus on manageable chunks, without losing site of the big picture.  

Finding Architectural Perspective That Works

Good architecture is business. Good architecture is IT. Excellent architecture is IT structured to fit your enterprise. If it is not working, you may see issues that include disparate, siloed work streams that result in operational inefficiency, security issues--and for those companies using "legacy architecture," little or no enterprise growth or value. When the red flags start to wave, functionality and your bottom line suffers.

It is hard to drive the right architecture for your future IT infrastructure if you don't understand what is going on with the existing architecture. And you cannot simply throw out an architecture that is not working and exchange it for a new one. Finding the right architecture can be something of a balancing act. It's an iterative process, an evolution, a structure that requires as much verified intuition as it does inference and deduction. Targeted stakeholder communication, quantifiable and measurable milestones--digging into what works and what doesn't--keeps your IT infrastructure and its architecture evolving as your company evolves.

Robert Miller is a senior consultant at infoedge with over 30 years of experience in systems engineering and architecture focusing on security and systems management, Robert is a recognized expert in the industry. His clients enjoy his expertise in translating their business objectives into real-life plans tackling identity, IT systems and security management. Thanks to his experience, his clients now adapt to a rapidly evolving business environment armed with their new agile architecture skills.

Michael Kappes, is a manager at infoedge with a background of an accomplished systems and network architect, Michael enjoys helping his clients see quantitative success in implementation and enhancement of business applications, enterprise management and security management. His clients reap the benefits of his experience in handling multi-million-dollar security compliance and vulnerability management projects for a major financial services company. 

#architecture #ITinfrastructure

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