Strategic Architecture Committee Update
By Nancy Armentrout and B Victor Chakravarty, OIT
(Note that some of the hyperlinks below are only accessible from the Intranet)
The Strategic Architecture Committee was introduced to you in this May Newsletter article. Since then the Committee has undergone several structural modifications. The positions behind two previous committee members have been eliminated: the Director of Policy & Strategic Planning and the Director of Application Services. Three new members have been added: the Manager of Application Development & Management (ADAM), the OIT-DHHS Technology Strategist, and the AITD of OIT-DOT. The CIO has nominated a new chair: the AITD of OIT-DOT. The meeting frequency has been changed from weekly to bi-weekly. The committee now meets from 2 to 4 PM on alternative Thursdays.
The goals and functions of the committee, however, remain the same. The committee Charter succinctly lays out its purpose, membership, functions, and general approach. The committee is pleased to announce its intranet home page, where it intends to publish its draft materials for further vetting. And that is where the wider IT community in Maine State Government is invited to partner with this committee. In fact, the committee eagerly looks forward to comments from the wider IT community. And that means not just OIT, but IT personnel from the Legislative and Judicial branches as well.
Besides the Charter, the committee has kick started its publication schedule with two documents: the General Architecture Principles and the Database Management System Brick. The General Architecture Principles constitute a set of easy, general 'rules of thumb' for everyday IT decision-making. It's recognized that formal Policies, Standards, Procedures, and Best Practices will never exhaustively encompass every single aspect of IT work within the State. Yet, all IT workers are faced with critical decision-making as an integral part of their everyday jobs. Such everyday decisions frequently have lasting long-term consequences, but it's difficult to anchor such decisions in the absence of a general framework. The General Architecture Principles is meant to supply such a general framework.
Bricks, a term coined by Gartner and used in the 2002 State of Maine IT Strategic Plan, are a set of graphic representations of the technology components that make up the overall IT architecture. Examples of Bricks include Database Management System, Programming Language, Storage, Local Area Network, etc. Bricks are aggregated under six Domains: Data, Application, Integration, Infrastructure, Network, and Security. Each Brick captures the as-is and to-be states of that particular technology component. The Database Management System Brick is a draft sample for you to review, both for its content and the overall Brick format. There are several new terms, such as Baseline Technology, Mainstream Targets, Retirement Targets, Tactical Deployment, Strategic Direction, Containment Targets, and Emerging Technologies. Each term is briefly defined in parentheses. The Brick format also includes extensive color coding and expressive emoticons. The committee worked hard to make the format as self-explanatory as possible, even at the expense of compromising strict professionalism in appearance. But it needs to hear back from the Maine State IT community on how well it succeeded in that quest.
Once again, the committee is eager to hear back from the Maine State IT community. Do the Architecture Principles make sense? Is the Brick format readily comprehensible? Does the Database Management System Brick provide a sound transition plan for the underlying technology? Please email your thoughts and comments to the Enterprise Systems Architect. Once the committee gathers all the IT community input, it will reconcile them and update the documents. There will also be additional focus groups with agency subject matter experts, on an as-needed basis. The final documents, after all the vetting and reconciliation, will be posted on the Internet for wide consumption by our vendors, partners and customers.