What is IT Architecture?

What is IT Architecture? IT Architecture covers Information Technology in your enterprise architecture - applications, data, infrastructure and associated security architecture. test

All good architecture guides change and IT Architecture is no different. The purpose of IT Architecture is guiding change of IT systems to deliver on the overall business objectives, strategy, and value proposition.

IT ArchitectureIT Architecture has to cover

All architecture simplifies the complexity of the real-world in order to understand how best to change it. IT Architecture is no different, it will comprise abstractions and models that simplify and communicate complex structures and constraints in your IT systems. You use the IT Architecture to drive effective change of your information systems.

For example, if your organization ships manufactures, installs, and supports complex machinery to construction locations around the globe, your information system has to balance efficiency and agility. Your manufacturing facilities will need information systems that support manufacturing. These systems will probably be data intensive and aimed at efficiency. After all, you control your facility. The information systems that support your installation and support services will have to be more flexible. You can expect your technicians to work on your customer's facilities and support systems will probably be integrated with your customer's operational systems. These systems require a great deal more agility.

A good IT Architecture will balance your critical criteria - efficiency, cost, and agility.

Information Technology Architect

Most IT Architects work with an enterprise architecture team and are closely associated with an organization's information technology department.

Many organizations use the job-title 'enterprise architect' to refer to IT Architects. Where this happens, the organization suffers from limited and it-centric architecture development. Rather than aligning the information systems to best support the business, there is a tendency to promote an IT-agenda,

The best IT Architects have technical backgrounds, and deep experience in implementing complex systems to support the business. It architects work on making your IT system deliver your business' goals.

What is an IT Architect

An Information Technology architect helps organizations to have information systems that are optimized for their business goals. They use the business architecture to drive the real requirements for your information systems.

  1. An IT architect translates the complexity of modern information system to understandable choices
  2. An IT architect's value proposition is their ability to assess different combinations of IT systems
  3. Information Technology architect is not a seniority award test

Why use IT Architecture

Organizations use an IT architecture to ensure they align their information systems with their requirements. Without an IT Architecture IT system chronically suffers from local optimization, where decisions made are optimized for parts of the whole at the expense of the complete system.

The demands on our IT systems have never been higher. Every industry is in the middle of a digital transformation. In order to deliver a successful digital transformation, you must have an effective set of IT systems. The Seven Levers of Digital Transformation identifies a failure to have effective and aligned IT systems will lead to low enterprise agility and imprudent decisions.

What is IT Architecture?

IT architecture will include:
  • A summary diagram of your key software applications, data, and technical infrastructure.
  • Guidelines of which systems should be off-the-shelf, configured, or custom developed
  • Standard and constraints on the selection of technology infrastructure
  • Direct traceability from all constraints and guidelines to what the constraint is enabling or protecting in your business architecture

The most valuable parts of your IT architecture are the guidelines and constraints on the decisions of people who will select, implement, and operate your information technology systems. Without these constraints, you will suffer from local optimization and your IT systems will under-perform hindering your business.

Application Architecture

IT architecture typically focuses on the software, or applications, your organization uses. Your organization can use off-the-shelf software functionality, configure software, or develop custom software. Each option has different benefits and costs.

  • Off-the-shelf software requires you to change business process to align to the software. The software will follow industry best-practices and help your organization get the benefits of industry-standard practices.
  • Configurable software allows you to balance your process with industry standard practices. This supports tweaks to industry standard practices that support your organization's unique circumstances and operating model.
  • Custom development allows you to deliver your unique value proposition. The software will follow your industry-leading practices that are value producing.

Good Application architecture will highlight what approach should be followed and usually highlight how to integrate different software applications.

Leverages Best Practices to encourage the use of (for example "open") technology standards, global technology interoperability and existing IT platforms (integration, data etc),

Data Architecture

All applications exist to create, record, and manage data. Without data applications, do little. Your data architecture needs to balance the information requirements of your business with the data structure in your applications.

Information requirements will come from your business architecture. Where information is created and required are driven by how your organization is structured and operates.

The data architecture will provide string constraints on your application architecture. Information that enables your unique value-proposition will have requirements that constrain application and integration choices.

As well, information is valuable and subject to regulation. Your Data Architecture needs to highlight data that is worth stealing or you would pay to regain access to. Regulatory requirements can be as simple as retention of tax records or a complex as personal information use like the GDPR regulations, for example.

Without a data architecture, your business' IT system will struggle.

Technology Architecture

We host applications on infrastructure, and store or move data across technology infrastructure. Servers, networks, desktops, laptops, satellite communications, mobile devices, scanners, and weight scales are all examples of technology. Several of our customers operate complex Wi-Fi networks in open-pit mines to guide digging and transportation to maintain material quality and cost optimization.

Your technology architecture will direct the infrastructure required to support your application and data.

Information Security Architecture

Information security architecture is very focused on your data. Your data is an asset that must be protected. It could be valuable to others, or required to operate your company. Whether the threat is theft or ransomware, your information security architecture ensures you have the openness to use your data and the protection to keep control.

IT Architecture Deliverables

Your IT Architecture will provide a consistent and coherent way to show and discuss the design and delivery of your IT systems.

It will have two primary audiences - decision-makers and implementers. Decision-makers use the IT architecture to decide what IT systems to implement, when to implement them and how to ensure the implementation is delivering the values expected. Implementers use the architecture to ensure they understand the measures of value, and the constraints on their freedom.

Talented architects know implementers are at the sharp-end. They will be most familiar with the newest technology and local issues. Implementers also need to have the maximum freedom to deliver on the expertise and creativity. They also need to be constrained to ensure that system-wide efficiency, cost, and agility requirements are delivered.

IT Roadmap

IT systems comprise multiple applications and technology. Organizations rarely undertake a wholesale change. Instead, their information systems develop part-by-part over-time. One of the most important deliverables is an IT Roadmap.

Your IT Roadmap will identify the needed changes across your IT system and help you perform the most effective change. test

Training an IT Architect

IT Architects will look at your business strategy and find IT solutions to make it work.

Now you know "what is IT architecture" the next question is are you ready to get IT architects for your business. Your choices are to hire a new employee or train an existing one.

Our training can give your existing employees the skills they need to succeed as IT architects. This cuts down on recruitment costs, time developing a knowledge of business operations and existing IT systems.

Our training will support developing one or more architects. We provide training for industry standard frameworks, practical architecture skill-based training, and other skills required by successful architects. We base our training on our practical experience delivering organization changing architecture and developing high-capability architecture teams.

If you need an IT architect, we can help. test

Enterprise Architect's Guide

Download the Enterprise Architect's Guide a TOGAF Series Guide on developing useful enterprise architecture. test

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