Systems, Data and Technology Architectures
“When I was in high school, I took a shop class that changed my whole life. In that class, we learned how to use hammers and saws and make things like birdhouses and ashtrays. Each group of two students had a small workbench and over the workbench was a pegboard for putting away the tools we used. Each of the pegboards had pictures of the individual tools painted on it. All you had to do to put a tool away was to match up the outline of the tool with the tool itself. Such a pegboard had a number of great advantages: first, you knew if something was missing; second, you knew where to put things; and third, after a while, if you had put things back, you knew right where to reach for a tool. “I see architectures as pegboards for the mind. If you have an architecture that shows how things fit together, then it's easier to discuss how certain tools or programs or data files or databases are going to fit into an overall plan.”
Increasingly, planning and managing IT today involves figuring out how to make sense of enormously complex systems, data, and technological environments. In its consulting, The Ken Orr Institute has become expert in using architectures as a means of helping people plan and manage their IT environments. As an example, Ken Orr has developed an Enterprise Data Architecture (EDA) as a means of helping organizations plan, develop, and manage their Data Warehousing programs. This architecture has proved enormously useful.
One reason that architectures are so important today is that we are dealing with bigger and bigger systems components that are often hard to relate. In addition, various systems are increasingly interconnected.
A second reason is the need to do incremental development. Most organizations no longer have the luxury of taking four or five years to build big systems. More and more organizations are insisting that systems functionality be delivered in six- or nine- month increments. Without an overall architecture that describes how the pieces are going to fit together, most short-term projects turn into long-term disasters.
A third force driving the need for systems architectures is objects. OO design places a big emphasis upon using off-the-shelf components. But true engineering requires not only that we develop truly reusable parts, but also that we get engineers to focus on how those components (objects) fit together. There is renewed interest in architecture because many OO projects lack an overall design.
Systems, Data and Technology Architectures represents the fastest growing segment of KOI’s business. Stay tuned for new developments and new architectures.
The Ken Orr Institute
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