Gartner Research

IT Architecture Matters

Published: 01 July 2002

ID: G00108654

Analyst(s): Roger Woolfe, Marcus Blosch


An IT architecture is a set of guidelines and standards for bringing order into the otherwise chaotic world of information systems. The benefits can be significant: lower costs, improved inter-operability and easier system maintenance, just to mention three. But the challenges are considerable. IT architectures can hold a business back by setting it in electronic concrete. They're hard to justify, and they lead to political tensions. This report explains how to decide when and where you need an architecture, how to design and document an architecture and how to deploy and evolve the most appropriate architecture approach for your enterprise.

Table Of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Section 1: Diagnosing when you need an architecture, where and how much
  • Section 2: Designing and documenting an architecture
  • Section 3: Managing deployment and evolution of an IT architecture

SECTION 1 Diagnosing when you need an IT architecture, where and how much

  • Clarify the purpose of your architecture
    • Every architecture needs a purpose
    • There are many benefits and challenges
  • Distinguish four main architectural strategies
    • Each architectural strategy has different features and benefits
    • Each has distinctive benefits
  • Ground the architecture in the needs of the business
    • Analyze architectural domains to determine the best payoff
    • Keep multiple domains separate
    • Stay, sway and keep away

SECTION 2 Designing and documenting an architecture

  • Segregate shared services in a foundation architecture
  • Design top down
    • Business needs are at two levels
    • Principles articulate "to-be" requirements
  • Design and document the architecture
    • Map data onto supporting applications
    • Generate a set of guidelines and standards, plus supporting documentation
    • Documentation is the final requirement

SECTION 3 Managing deployment and evolution of an IT architecture

  • Establish architectural governance
    • The architecture committee requires appropriate power
    • Bind specialist architects into a design authority
    • Build a bank of architecture competencies
  • Gain compliance and manage exceptions
    • Communication and training pay dividends
    • Gain compliance
    • Manage exceptions
    • Legacy systems can be managed
  • Enable the architecture to evolve
    • Measure benefits
    • Renew the architecture regularly

SECTION 4 Focusing on the CSFs

SECTION 5 Case histories

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
  • Barnardo's
  • Lloyd's Register
  • Marine Harvest
  • Sampension
  • Westpac
  • Woolwich
  • ABN AMRO's mission: international cooperation
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics communicates through posters
  • Barnardo's squeezes the most from its charity funds
  • Lloyd's Register sails into the black
  • Marine Harvest fishes for commonality
  • Sampension finds new lease of life through agility
  • Westpac migrates from product-led to customer-led
    • Woolwich: the bank you can bank on for consistency

SECTION 6 Further reading

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