In my previous post, I started with the five different views that would support a good view of what infrastructure would be. I believe these views (component, location, process, service, and zoning) cover the breadth of the domain. The post also described the component view a bit more and linked to previous posts I made (one for services, another for zoning).
The one I want to tackle here is the most elaborate one, also the most enterprise-ish, and one that always is a balance on how much time and effort to put into it (as an architect), as well as hoping that the processes are sufficiently standardized in a flexible manner so that you don't need to cover everything again and again in each project.
So, let's talk about processes...
IT architects try to use views and viewpoints to convey the target architecture to the various stakeholders. Each stakeholder has their own interests in the architecture and wants to see their requirements fulfilled. A core role of the architect is to understand these requirements and make sure the requirements are met, and to balance all the different requirements.
Architecture languages or meta-models often put significant focus on these views. Archimate has a large annex on Example Viewpoints just for this purpose. However, unless the organization is widely accustomed to enterprise architecture views, it is unlikely that the views themselves are the final product: being able to translate those views into pretty slides and presentations is still an important task for architects when they need to present their findings to non-architecture roles.
The public cloud is a different beast than an on-premise environment, and that also reflects itself on how we (should) look at the processes that are actively steering infrastructure designs and architecture. One of these is the business continuity, severe incident handling, and the hopefully-never-to-occur disaster recovery. When building up procedures for handling disasters (DRP = Disaster Recovery Procedure or Disaster Recover Planning), it is important to keep in mind what these are about.
In my job as domain architect for "infrastructure", I often come across stakeholders that have no common understanding of what infrastructure means in an enterprise architecture. Since then, I am trying to figure out a way to easily explain it - to find a common, generic view on what infrastructure entails. If successful, I could use this common view to provide context on the many, many IT projects that are going around.
As I mentioned in An IT services overview I try to keep track of the architecture and designs of the IT services and solutions in a way that I feel helps me keep in touch with all the various services and solutions out there. Similar to how system administrators try to find a balance while working on documentation (which is often considered a chore) and using a structure that is sufficiently simple and standard for the organization to benefit from, architects should try to keep track of architecturally relevant information as well.
So in this post, I'm going to explain a bit more on how I approach documenting service and solution insights for architectural relevance.
TOSCA is an OASIS open standard, and is an abbreviation for Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications. It provides a domain-specific language to describe how an application should be deployed in the cloud (the topology), which and how many resources it needs, as well as tasks to run when certain events occur (the orchestration). When I initially came across this standard, I was (and still am) interested in how far this goes. The promise of declaring an application (and even bundling the necessary application artefacts) within a single asset and then using this asset to deploy on whatever cloud is very appealing to an architect. Especially in organizations that have a multi-cloud strategy.
Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are often a quick way to get new capabilities into an organization’s portfolio. Smaller SaaS solutions are simple, web-based solutions which barely integrate with the organization’s other solutions, besides the identity and access management (which is often handled by federated authentication).
More complex or intermediate solutions require more integration focus, and a whole new market of Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions came up to facilitate cross-cloud integrations. But even without the iPaaS offerings, integrations are often a mandatory part to leverage the benefits of the newly activated SaaS solution.
In this post I want to bring some thoughts on the integrations that might be needed to support customizing a SaaS solution.
My current role within the company I work for is “domain architect”, part of the enterprise architects teams. The domain I am accountable for is “infrastructure”, which can be seen as a very broad one. Now, I’ve been maintaining an overview of our IT services before I reached that role, mainly from an elaborate interest in the subject, as well as to optimize my efficiency further.
Becoming a domain architect allows me to use the insights I’ve since gathered to try and give appropriate advice, but also now requires me to maintain a domain architecture. This structure is going to be the starting point of it, although it is not the true all and end all of what I would consider a domain architecture.
When an organization has an extensively large, and heterogeneous infrastructure, infrastructure architects will attempt to make itless complex and chaotic by introducing and maintaining a certain degree of standardization. While many might consider standardization as a rationalization (standardizing on a single database technology, single vendor for hardware, etc.), rationalization is only one of the many ways in which standards can simplify such a degree of complexity.
In this post, I'd like to point out two other, very common ways to standardize the IT environment, without really considering a rationalization: abstraction and virtualization.
IT is complex. Some even consider it to be more magic than reality. And with the ongoing evolutions and inventions, the complexity is not really going away. Sure, some IT areas are becoming easier to understand, but that is often offset with new areas being explored.
Companies and organizations that have a sizeable IT footprint generally see an increase in their infrastructure, regardless of how many rationalization initiatives that are started. Personally, I find it challenging, in a fun way, to keep up with the onslaught of new technologies and services that are onboarded in the infrastructure landscape that I'm responsible for.
But just understanding a technology isn't enough to deal with its position in the larger environment.