In last month’s issue, Jim Quiggle discussed service-oriented architectures and infrastructures (SOA/I), which represent a shift in the way IT departments operate. As this trend grows, it is even more important that IT departments are optimized and justified.
“Architectures and infrastructures that don’t support the business have no justification to exist,” says Quiggle, director of professional services development at Agile360 Inc. “If they are not optimized, they don’t enable business agility and may hinder workflows. SOA/I coupled with operational and solution frameworks can close the gap between the business drivers and deployed IT service solutions. These are justified by business need and optimized based on the costs versus the business benefit provided or business risk avoided or mitigated.”
Smart Business talked with Quiggle for more insight into methods for justifying and optimizing infrastructures and architectures.
How is justification and optimization affected by SOA/I?
The traditional approach is based on ‘pain points.’ One example is when someone complains about the speed or features of the e-mail system. Another example is when business management expresses a need for a way to manage warehouse inventories, and a solution is implemented.
When pain points drive IT solutions, the deployed systems probably are over-engineered, and therefore, cannot be optimized. This is because the chances of hitting the unknown service level requirement mark is low. If the systems are under-engineered, IT must deploy additional systems to resolve the continuing pain points.
With SOA/I, the pressure is taken off IT, and the rest of the business defines what is needed. IT then presents the available options and trade-offs for business approval. Justification is based on the needs of the business as determined by the various entities within the business. There is also the potential benefit of meeting the needs of partners that deal with the business with no additional cost for processes.
How does a business go about implementing SOA/I?
You start with the business objectives. Vision and strategy come next. It is important to involve all departments of the business. You want to build support services and applications so that the different business systems can reuse and share them. The architecture is leveraged across multiple projects both internally and externally eliminating the need to rebuild similar services for each project.
After an organization has set its SOA/I vision and strategy, then the architecture and every infrastructure component across the whole enterprise conforms to the SOA/I. Services become the basic building blocks with which infrastructure architectures are created and supported. These services are integrated to achieve business objectives.
Are there standards or frameworks to follow?
There are two, and they are very similar. One is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). The other is the Microsoft Operations and Microsoft Solutions Frameworks (MOF/MSF). They are very similar.
MOF adopts and adapts ITIL and combines the collaborative industry best practices with specific guidelines for running on the Microsoft platform in a variety of business scenarios. MOF also extends the ITIL code of practice to support distributed IT environments and current industry directions such as application hosting, mobile-device computing, and Web-based transactional and e-commerce systems. In a non-Microsoft environment, the ITIL framework would simply replace the MOF and MSF frameworks.
Are there basic steps to follow?
There are four basic steps to create a new solution (or change an existing one). They are: (1) plan the solution, (2) build it, (3) deploy it and (4) operate it.
This approach recognizes that a change to a current solution can originate from an operations requirement, a new business requirement or external factors, such as regulatory requirements. These changes also need to follow the four basic steps of the life cycle and, depending on their complexity, can trigger either a new (MSF) project or a smaller-scale request for change within the MOF framework.
Each framework provides useful and detailed information on the people, processes and tools required to successfully function within its respective area. Both MSF and MOF provide technology-agnostic guidance for improving IT processes that can be used in any environment.
JIM QUIGGLE is director of professional services development at Agile360 Inc. Reach him at email@example.com or (949) 253-4106.