ICT architecture

"to serve and to protect". The slogan of the american law enforcement community. We feel that there is no better motto that this to express our vision on infrastructure architecture. That simple sentence encompasses everything infrastructure architecture is or should be — an architecture designed to provide all services described in the corporate or information architecture, in a safe and stable manner.

Infrastructure architecture is a somewhat new player in the architecture arena. Traditionally the focus is mainly on information or application architecture. However, in an era in which everything must be accessible to everyone everywhere, one weighs virtualisation, or even considers cloud computing, it is necessary to have at one's disposal a correct and future proof infrastructure architecture as foundation for the applications supporting your business.

Exite can assist you in drawing up an architecture for your ict infrastructure providing your business with the agility to optimally utilise your ict for your business. In doing this, Exite's architects make use of the TOGAF framework, developed by The Open Group.

Technology architecture

Designing a technology architecture is described as phase D in the TOGAF framework. The primary goal of this phase is describing the technical architecture that is the basis for implementations following from your business and information architecture.

An important first step in this phase is baselining. In this step the existing environment — the relevant parts — is charted, descerning generic building blocks inasfar as possible. These building blocks are documented in such a way that it allows the architect to utilise them in a service oriented architecture (soa). In this step also the requirements for the new architecture are established. That list will be used at a later stage to check the new architecture for its applicability. That check — and a potential correction — prevent fundamental mistakes in designing the architectures, mistakes that may turn out to be very expensive in later phases.

In the second step an analysis of the baseline is carried out, looking at all requirements following from the business and the information architecture. In concert with the input collected from the various stakeholders, these become the requirements for the new technology architecture. Although every attempt is made to satisfy all requirements, it must be observed that it is rarely possible to get 100% cover. It is important that the stakeholders approve the results of this phase, before moving on to the next one.

The analysis is then followed by designing an architectural model of building blocks. This model needs to cover the various points of view of the stakeholders, in order to reach a model of all services described in the analysis. Before proceeding to the next step, this model must be tested whether it satisfies the requirements, looking for each single building block at the technical functions and services the building block must provide. In this phase the architect also needs to review the re-usability of each building block, and perhaps the model needs adjustments in order to facilitate re-usability.  subsequently, the model can be tested for conformity with the business requirements and targets.

Once the architectural model is finished, one may proceed to the next step: defining specifications for each of the building blocks. Depending of the organisation for which the architecture is intended, these would typically encompass business requirements, legal conditions, availability, market maturity level, stability, etcetera.
A good set of specifications is of vital importance for a correct representation of the goals that have been set. Once this has been completed, the technical architecture can be fully drawn up. Depending on the scale, this may well be a long-winding iterative process during which all interfaces between the building blocks need to be examined, adjusted and re-examined.

Utilising this architecture and the baseline from step 1, the architect now commences a gap analysis, documenting of the gaps between the present and targeted architecture. This documentation is basis for defining the projects that will align the present infrastructure with the newly defined architecture. These are not just implementation projects, migrations as well as phasing out redundant components are a part of this step.

Network architecture

When speaking about network architecture, one usually refers to components and technology. One often does not see that that is more about design, less about architecture.

In drawing up a network architecture, Exite's architects base themselves on the technology architecture process outlined above. This means that they do not work from a technological perspective but design the architecture to achieve business targets and requirements. Not until the specification phase Exite's architects will commence filling in the building blocks from a technical perspective. For this aspect, they possess an outstanding technical baggage, broad knowledge of the market and the suppliers, including the various technologies they can provide. Moreover, our architects have in-depth awareness of services on the market that may be applied to certain building blocks in the architecture.

Data centre architecture

Infrastructure architecture is hardly out of its infancy. Even if people think or talk about it, they often mean network or system architecture. Either way, not a lot of attention is given to data centre achitecture.

It is our opinion that data centre architecture plays a crucial role within the infrastructure architecture these days. Elements such as the environment, "green" information technology, the problems of finding adequate power supply and sufficient cooling capacity, the ever increasing need for storage, the ongoing process of centralisation, and let's not forget the virtualisation trend, make that the data centre landscape has changed dramatically over a short period of time.

Exite's architects have gained a lot of expertise with regards to new technologies in the servers, storage and virtualisation space. They can assist you with design and implementation of new data centres, with migrations towards a more efficient data centre environment, with your business continuity and disaster recovery initiatives, and advise you when it's time to choose your suppliers and service providers.