What is "IT Architecture"?

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of "architecture" includes:

the complex or carefully designed structure of something

  • the conceptual structure and logical organization of a computer or computer-based system.

An organization will often refer to the sum total of their IT assets: hardware and software: their "IT estate". Their "IT Architecture" would therefore be the conceptual structure and logical organization of their computer-based systems, which would run into the 100s or possibly 1000s for a large organization. To manage such an estate and make decisions regarding proposed changes, requires an appropriate level of abstraction. Typically an individual application will be represented by a labelled box on a diagram, ignoring such details as:

Similarly the data path between two applications, allowing data to be transferred or shared, will typically be represented by a line on a diagram, again abstracting away from:

Why is IT Architecture important?

The main benefits of IT Architecture are in:

IT Architecture has been compared with Town Planning - setting the rules for what can happen where, and supporting the movement of traffic between areas.

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