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IT Architecture 101. Types of Architecture

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The IT Architecture is a complex phenomena. Just like an apartment has floor plans, electrical drawings, topo map, plumbing drawings, etc. there are plenty of architectures / views  for any system / application. From a development perspective, here are four architectures (in as much plain English as possible).

1. Business processes / BPM: You deal with this to not only know the business, but also to eliminate redundant & non-value added processes. When you automate some business processes, a few things should get eliminated. For example, in real world you may have a person pick the documents and keep them in a store-room. This whole process doesn’t apply when the data (documents) get stored in hard-drives or cloud

2. Data Architecture: Data sensitivity / classification, retention period, role-based access, approval hierarchy, data custodian, etc.

3. Solution Architecture: Semi-technical. Define the components & their interaction with one another

Forrester says, “Solution architects are responsible for defining the business solution “platform” upon which the initial project and future solutions are built. This includes assembling and documenting the architectural requirements for the strategic solution”. But, it cautions, “The definition of the solution architect role and responsibilities varies widely from firm to firm, changes over time, and often isn’t very clear. Some firms will emphasize the role as a business advisor, and others expect solution architects to fill the role of project design authority” (Solution Architecture Tool Kit: Overview)

4. Technical Architecture: IDE, GUI tools, DB Servers topology, number of app servers, load balancing, which apps use which server, etc (The last two are sometimes called Infrastructure View).

** Thanks Shameel for the discussion on this **

If you want an academic level overview, please read Architectural Blueprints — The “4+1” View Model of Software Architecture


There are plenty of other architectures. Here are some:

5. Enterprise Architecture (EA), with its frameworks like TOGAF, Zachman, etc. should deal with strategic objectives of the enterprise, and ideally be dealt at the CIO level.

6. Gartner says “AA (application architecture) is a subset of enterprise solution architecture (ESA) which, in turn, is a subset of a complete EA” (“Application Architecture Overview, Part 1: General Context and Scope”)

The below diagram from Gartner shows the Value Chain for Architecture Disciplines (“The Distinction Between Enterprise Architecture and Application Architecture Makes a Difference to Business Outcomes”, 2014)


Continuity Between Strategy and Execution


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Written by S Ibrahim

2015-03-21 at 11:10 PM

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