8th, 2006: Definition of Architecture
For a large number
of years there has been a discussion on a definition of the term architecture.
My definition is simple:
is a shared view on a reality
simplest form: the reality we can and/or want to see. In professional
practice it is the world we work in/for. This is usually an
organisation, a part of an organisation, parts of more organisations
together etc. The part we are working for eg the part we are
discussing is also called Universe of Discourse (UoD, ISO/IEC
or vision. What we see and know of the part of the reality we
work in/for. What is seen in a view is determined by background,
professional education, interest etc. of the viewer. An IT-professional
"sees" other things then a lawyer, for instance.
of a certain kind of professionals should be shared to become
a shared professional view. So, the IT-professionals of an organisation
should share their view so an IT-architecture is formed.
is in line with the definition of the term architecture in the building
industry. The architecture of a church is a shared view on this church,
where the church is explained in terms of function, structure, beauty
and harmony (Vitruvius and Alberti). Read a book on the architecture
of such a church, and this is what you will read to "explain"
and IT sector
In the IT industry
IT-professionals are really engineers putting tools together, hardware
and software. They need a design to make the tool that is needed. They
create IT-infrastructures. It is very logical the architecture of th
infrastructure they are working on must be a model, a method, a development
methodology, a documentation method, a modeling language etc. This is
what they need to know to be able to build the right tools that will
fit their purpose effectively. For that reason these professionals are
mainly talking about:
- IT architecture.
the view of IT-professionals on the technical IT-infrastructure,
written down in models, languages etc. Here we are talking about
the world of the IT-vendors who are creating hardware, networking,
systemsoftware etc.: systemhouses. The IT-architecture is a
shared view of the technical IT-infrastructure, their reality.
the view of IT-professionals who are concerned with IT-solutions
for organisation. The way services/applications/systems/objects/components/...
and data (databases, files etc.) fit (business
alignment) to an organisation is also best written down
in models and languages by people who's job resemble the work
of engineers. Again a shared view on the support IT delivers
to an organisation, their reality.
Enterprise-IT-Architecture would be must better and clearer
for this kind of architecture because the term Enterprise Architecture
has been and is the reason for many misunderstandings.
There is a big
difference between the way business specialists view their reality and
the way IT-professionals view theirs. To bridge this gap it is necessary
to have a third architecture:
of information scientists on the information
the organisation wants and needs as a corporate resource. This
view defines the demand side, while the IT- and Enterprise-Architecture
define the supply side.
There are a number
of views outside the information and IT views on the organisations.
For instance the view on the way the business is organised in business
processes, usually called the business architecture.
These architectures are not the work of information scientists or IT-professionals.
To give a negatively formulated clue: this is where everyone else in
the organisation specialises in and working for.
There are a large
number of other architecture in the IT world: application, software,
hardware, solution, firewall, data, grid, security, system management
etc.etc. architectures. They are all part of the IT- and the Enterprise-(IT-)Architecture.