IT Architectural Principles?

Dictionary definition of principle

If you survey the information on the web concerning IT architectural principles you mostly find descriptions like this.  This is pretty consistent what others have published whether IBM, Gartner, Forrester et. al.

After some explanations, they go on to list a set of rules that should apply to the deployment of IT.  The perspective here is really policy based.  As a policy they are simply constraints on what is permissible and/or a listing of “best practices.”  I believe this approach can be subsumed by a broader category, one with a results focus.  IT’s sole purpose as is any tool is to act as a productivity multiplier, to make the organization more efficient.  The role of the architect is to make decisions which once made are not so easily reversed. This semi-permanent aspect of decision making is why architects should be experienced practitioners that are well versed in computer science fundamentals.

Drawing on the work of Darrell Mann and others, IT Architectural Principles with a results focus can be split into two categories, analysis and design, the first no one enjoys doing the second everyone does.   See diagram below.

a diagram of architectural principles
In the category of analysis, the principles – as defined by the opengroup – become just another series of constraints which influence our design (sometimes to the detriment of the organization when a broader context is not considered).  With the exception of the last item, the listing is straight forward in meaning. What is meant by sticking points are those areas which are sometimes called engineering tradeoffs.

Regarding the design principles, these are derived from a millennia of trail and error with modularity allowing the architect to encapsulate complexity and increase his solution choices, flexibility allowing us to reverse decisions, adapt to change and resilience to withstand the shock of disastrous events.

I believe following these principles versus thinking only about organizational rules, policies and constraints permit us to produce more innovative designs, increasing efficiency in the organization and fulfilling the proper role of architecture.


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