The Art of Architecture
Like TOGAF, let’s take ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010:2011 definition :
The fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment embodied in its elements, relationships, and in the principles of its design and evolution.
« Just for fun, I could write tens of articles showing that Architecture can be defined by itself. I can split architecture definition into smaller blocks, and showing how all together describe this wonderful combination of disciplines. »
Architecture can be applied in every situation, and for any business company.
But before going through the technical concepts, I would like to introduce first the Art of Architecture.
Architecture as an Art
According to Oxford, Art is a diverse range of products and human activities involving creative imagination to express technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas.
If you see Architecture applied to buildings, there is no doubt on how beautiful some constructs can be. This is achieved thanks to architects that deploy all their talents and skills to perfection and expression of their art.
Nowadays, in modern technology world, architecture is a discipline that is applied on many things, among which the so-called Information and Technology field. When talking about Enterprise Architecture, architecture is applied to many concepts, related to people, organizations, processes, business activities, and Information Systems.
« Art can emerge whenever there is passion. There is something subjective in the perception of Art, but most of artworks are recognized by peers, as achievements that could only have emerged from brilliant artists. Architecture, Enterprise Architecture, and Architecture within IT, allow emergence of Art. »
The world seen by an Architect
Imagine an astrophysicist dealing with the entire universe. He is able to observe and understand many things, but yet so few. He deals with space objects, has some understanding on the laws of the universe and its rules.
Imagine a chemist dealing with some small sample of matter. He would like to understand the maximum of its nature. He will observe it using microscopes, and will try to understand its characteristics and behavioral properties.
Fundamentally, an architect is as comfortable as seeing things as an astrophysicist, or as seeing things as a chemist. An architect sees systems by splitting them into smaller pieces. Picturing the system, either conceptual or real, he will decompose it into small pieces, called blocks.
« It is not always necessary to observe or to have knowledge over the whole system, nor to have the same decomposition details for each part of the system. Architects apply their skills and imagination to picture many possible evolutions of the system. Not only he sees the final state evolution of it, but also any transitional state as well, using elementary operations applied to the system. »
What do architects do
Architects are asked to solve problems, are asked to give recommendations, and to anticipate. Given a certain system, seen as a certain configuration of elementary blocks, the architect is asked to adapt it in the best way so that the system is able to achieve a certain outcome. This outcome could be of course new business service, more money, gain in efficiency, lower risk, regulatory compliance, or strategic roadmap or innovation.
This adaptation should respect numerous constraints, let’s call them building rules. Constraints could be timeline, budget, workers capacity, respect of standards, way of working, interconnexion abilities between blocks, security, minimizing risks, existing evolution of the system itself, anticipation requirements, culture of the firm, and many more.
To achieve his work, an architect uses his own skills, and creates collaboration with experts. He leads the design process. He evaluates many options, still validating the constraints, and draws an understandable solution that will fit the needs. He shares his vision, and is able to picture all transitional steps of the system toward the final solution.
Picturing the solution before it is built, and all transition states, an architect is able to decompose solutions into pieces, and to answer many questions.
How many blocks and of which kind should we remove, or add, in which order and time, in order to obtain the best solution ?
On top, the architect can also be of help to evaluate which persons need to intervene. Moreover, it is expected that architect evaluate risks, evaluate cost of implementation, and keep respecting numerous constraints.
In summary, an architect is a perfect collaborator for business leaders, decision-makers, sponsors, CIOs, CTOs, chief of security, program directors, project managers, and all workers of a project.
« Architects are problem-solvers. When elevated to the state of Art, outcomes are numerous to help business grow and lead the markets. They enable projects, enable innovation, enable control over Information System, minimize risks, and maximize added value.
Lowest cost, faster time to market, maximum benefits. »