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Harness Technology Architecture
Modeling is the key to effectively communicating and establishing your technology architecture.
by Jeff Tash, ITscout

September 1, 2004

How screwed up is your IT organization? Do you find yourself often wondering how anything related to IT ever gets accomplished inside your own enterprise? The problem, invariably, is the complexity of IT itself. Always remember that no one likes to admit what they don't understand.

In the world of computing, with its constantly churning technological innovations, most IT professionals walk around like they're stepping on eggshells. Most everyone who works in IT is constantly afraid others are going to somehow discover just how ignorant they often feel.

IT is unlike any other business discipline. For instance, consider accounting. Accountants still use the same basic double-entry bookkeeping approach developed hundreds of years ago by the Italians during the Renaissance. Similarly, Dale Carnegie's sales training courses are just as applicable today as they were when he first taught them during the Great Depression. In fact, the basic principles underlying engineering, manufacturing, marketing, and so forth, are not too fundamentally different from what they were 30 years ago.

But then there's computing...

With computing, the pace of change is staggering. For the last quarter century, we've witnessed the emergence of radically new innovations such as relational databases, personal computers, graphical user interfaces, client/server distributed computing, object-oriented programming, and of course, the World Wide Web.

Looking ahead, the next generation of technologies pushing the proverbial envelope includes XML, service-oriented architecture (SOA), Web services, and the Semantic Web. Collectively, these new technologies will fundamentally reshape how businesses conduct transactions. But first, IT needs to learn how to design systems that operate asynchronously.

Communicate Your Technology Architecture
How does your IT organization stay current? How does IT re-educate its staff? What about all those other people throughout the enterprise who aren't IT professionals but who use IT systems and services?

Bottom line: In most enterprises today, the IT organization does a horrific job of communicating with people—both internal staff as well as external users.

You must communicate your technology architecture. Unfortunately, in too many organizations, enterprise architects fail miserably in conveying to others what technology to use and why.

Computing should always strive to achieve four basic objectives:

  1. Simplicity
  2. Standards
  3. Modularity
  4. Integration

These properties consistently have been the key drivers pushing forward each of the previously mentioned IT breakthroughs. I can't overstate the importance of embracing these four properties.

You can best accomplish the pursuit of simplicity, standards, modularity, and integration by following a simple four-step process:

  1. Categorization
  2. Standardization
  3. Communication
  4. Education

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