First post in a series of 5-10, I will release all my views and opinions on the Art of Integration. I challenge you to disagree, and bash me with arguments and reasoning. Feel free to shoot from the hip and aim at the heart, anything goes really. I am absolutely convinced that I am right and spot-on on every single statement, sentence, and word.
Itching already? Great. Let the games begin…
IT Architecture divides its world in a few parts. Various frameworks have various models, but I still like Capgemini’s one best, since it follows people and organisation structure. Above, my own visualisation of that.
Businesses thrive on business. They do business. Without business, there is no business – need I continue?
Business defines the business rules, the business exceptions. They make and need business cases with which they can justify investments, change, growth. Business events occur at a certain frequency and volume. When all that matches with other people, business agreements can be made with other companies, allowing them to do business across the barriers of their own company.
Information is in the input for business, and the output for it. Information needs to comply with the business rules and exceptions. People support the business here by handling this information: users.
Information systems allow the business to scale. They automate what can be automated, store history, make life as pleasantly as possible for the end-user who works for the business. They serve as vehicles for the information.
The technical infrastructure supports and carries the systems: the iron, the networks. They form the firm base for the information systems, they are the roads the traffic travels on.
What if two businesses want to do business?
Both parties can’t just exchange information like one would normally do in a telephone call or in a conversation with someone else; usually the business is too complex for that. Nor can users do this, as there usually is a high degree of computerisation involved due to the required speed of processing information, and the volume of information.
The information systems themselves can exchange information, but not one system in the world is exactly alike another one: they always differ in structure, size, business they support and operating system or database used to support it: therefore a common layout (interface) needs to be chosen to enable the technical translation from one system to another.
That interface must then be supported by the underlying infrastructure: as these infrastructures differ from one another as well, a common interface needs to be chosen here too.
On all levels in the enterprise the common theme returns: looking for and defining common grounds or subsets, and translating those to common interfaces.
If all four levels mentioned (Business, Information, Information Systems, and Infrastructure) supported these subsets, integration can become a fact.
It’s like establishing a common topic to talk about in a conversation with someone else:
- what is the shared interest (Business)
- which information do you want to share (Information)
- which definitions are mutually exchangeable (Information Systems)
- how do you want to exchange ideas (Infrastructure)
In the next post, I’ll go into detail with regards to the three themes of integration: messaging, transportation and transformation.