Statements arrived by consensus from Sr IT Architects/designers are rules and guidelines which can be used by IT team to architect and design an IT system. These carefully thought statements ensure that all IT applications in an enterprise follow a pattern and hence are not left to the whims and fancies of the designer. Since IT applications are not implemented at the same time and by the same people, there are high chances that factors that can be uniform across all applications( irrespective of business requirements) will not be uniform and hence will affect maintenance of applications.
These statements that form the blue-print for designing an IT application are called Architectural Principles (hereby refereed as APs in this article).
An enterprise might define an AP saying ‘ For applications that need to interact with each other within an enterprise, language neutral integration mechanism should be used like web services. All such services hosted by an application should be documented in service catalog before the service is launched.’ The first part of the statement mandates that IT teams should not use language(Java,C++, PHP) specific APIs for communication. This standardizes the application integration mechanism across the enterprise. The second statement mandates that the service should be documented in service catalog and hence can be referred by others. This brings in the reuse concept of services when at a later stage some other application needs the same functionality from the hosting application, the existing service can be re-used.
Another AP can be – ‘ For all applications that are to be used by employees and partners (excluding customers), authentication has to be done with the central Microsoft Active Directory server’. This AP ensures that development team will not duplicate user profiles across various IT applications within an enterprise.
Running an IT enabled business definitely needs coordination across various teams to ensure that IT systems are up and running as needed by the business. These communications across teams are usually tracked for ensuring that all respective teams are executing their responsibilities An AP can be ‘All requests across teams within an enterprise have to raise service requests on the central ticketing application. The team responding to such request has to update the ticket and close the ticket on request completion. The time taken to resolve such requests should be condensed and should be available as dashboards for every quarter. The dashboard should also show the trend for the last 8 quarters’. These type of APs which donot directly govern the design of an IT application are also used by enterprises.
The benefits for maintaining an APS database range from adherence to proven principles, minimizes costs and maintenance requirements, and promotes usability and scalability along with bringing in discipline within IT.
The Open Group organization which owns the enterprise architecture framework – TOGAF, has mentioned architectural principals as one of the building blocks. It can be viewed at http://pubs.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf8-doc/arch/chap29.html
eBay’s approach for APs can be seen on slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/deimos/randy-shoup-ebays-architectural-principles
At technologia, we can help you define architectural principals and hence bring in discipline in your IT landscape. Speak to us for details using our contact us link from our portal.