Technical Architecture Landscape – Your Best Target?

In putting some efforts towards my fall seminar schedule, I have been focused on my Technical Architecture Workshops and had a thought today worth sharing.

As enterprise architects, we attempt to capture business strategy and put some alignment to our IT Strategy, and formulate an IT Current State and IT Target State architecture. The IT plan is the people, process and technology initiatives that we plan for the year, and potentially two or three threes out to move towards IT future State.

We have to have an understanding of the business strategies, priorities and external business environments to drive the overall strategic IT objectives. Analysis of the business changes and priroities drive the characteristics of the IT products and services, IT governance and the required IT capabilities.

IT Architecture is how we plan, and the basis for the efforts that we employ during the year to move closer to our goals. Definition of the technology, application and data architectures enable the IT strategy. Each must align with the business architecture, or functions and processes that we perform as an organization to sell or provide service to our customers. Effective IT planning is derived from tactically focusing on closing the gap between current state and target state.

The technology landscape is where my thoughts lie today.

IT strategy is a business driven lifecycle, and it’s difficult to jump directly to the technology landscape when reviewing the linkage and relationships from the business. IT planning is an on-going event constantly refreshed to meet the shifting future state. It makes sense after we determine which data we need, and what solutions we will use to provide or manipulate that data. It is only after this point that we can determine which technologies we will use to deliver these solutions.

What if we consider the big jar and the stone philosophy? We have a large jar, and we fill it first with big stones, then smaller stones, then pebbles, sand and water to fill it. Our large stones in the area of technology architecture shouldn’t change often. Meaning – if we have an IBM mainframe solution, using a Nortel or Cisco network, and HPUX server farm, we’ve determined how we general want to continue to operate. Although we may have quite a mixture, we should generally know what our general direction is on the larger technology components each year – or which direction we intend to move as big changes are made.

These technologies will rarely have wholesale changes. Our technology landscape will generally stay the same, yet each year we must consider which larger and smaller scale changes should be made. There are none that should be made purely for sake of change itself, nor for the sake of “cool and new” technologies, unless innovation is our core business product.

In saying this, we as technology architects have the best chance of putting together our target state with the most certainty. Each solution and information requirement will cause us to change direction somewhat. We as technology architects should attempt to map how our technology components match to the business drivers in our strategic plans, but if this isn’t possible for us, or resides with our enterprise architects, it behooves us to have a very good understanding of the categories of technology components that we carry, the ones that should be slated for replacement, and those that should be enhanced.

Technology Landscape is most likely the most straight forward target state of the three domains. The minor stuff like lists of specific point software, appliances, etc. can be added as our needs are nailed down.

If technology architecture interests you, watch our seminars page at for more information.

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