Architecture management as part of the core competency of IT architecture
For many years, companies in virtually every industry sector saw architecture management primarily as a tool for standardising their applications. Efforts here focused mainly on consolidating the heterogeneous application environment resulting from past organic growth into a few standard applications as effectively as possible and therefore exploiting potential for efficiency in the company. This proved increasingly successful: despite the appearance of several new functional requirements, the number of separate application instances typically shrank while operations grew more stable and secure – also as a result of reductions in interface complexity.
For a number of years – sooner or later, depending on the industry – we are now seeing an opposing trend, however. The goal of all-out consolidation is now tending to be seen as secondary to the need to create more flexibility and – above all – greater agility. In many places, application architecture is increasingly being developed by the integration of smaller-scale, bought-in application instances, third-party services and in-house development on a much broader scale.
Key drivers of this development trend include bi-modal approaches, where ‘wooden rafts’ may be given the nod even if they often aren’t a 100% fit for the existing ‘ocean-going liner’. This is based on the idea that, of a hundred wooden rafts that set out to sea, only a small number will ever return to port anyway, and it would therefore be a waste of time and money to orient each and every initiative in advance on the company’s big ocean-going liner solution. Another driver here is third-party interoperability – whether this means manufacturers and providers of SaaS solutions or business partners whose services need to be integrated. The end result is a more flexible and more agile system architecture – although this is, again, a more heterogeneous landscape that is more complex to operate.