Methods - Architecture vs Design

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HP ERSPECTIVES

Am I Doing Architecture
or Design Work?
Roberto Rivera

R

ecently, as part of my
work as the worldwide architect profession lead at HewlettPackard, I was (once again) engaged in an exchange dealing
with the differences between
architecture and design work for
information systems. Architects
obviously do architecture work, while
technical consultants and engineers
handle the detailed
design required to
accomplish project goals. This
seems a reasonably simple definition, but the
devil lies in

Let’s
figure
out
whether you’re
more of an architect or
a technical consultant
or engineer.
the details—especially in smaller
institutions where people might
perform a mixture of architecture and design work.
This debate occurs frequently
within the architecture profession. Every time we deliver
introductory training of our
architecture methodology¾the
HP Global Method for IT
Strategy and Architecture
46

IT Pro November ❘ December 2007

(HPGM for ITSA)¾the topics
that create the most passionate
debate revolve around this comparison.The difference between architecture and design work is
also an important topic in the
professional development of HP
Services employees, because the
training and certification that
individuals will take to work as
an architect differs from what
they’d take to work as a technical consultant or engineer. This isn’t to say that an architect is more important than a technical consultant or engineer
(or vice versa). Each role makes
a huge contribution to HP
Services’ ability to deliver compelling and innovative solutions to our clients. It is important to
note the differences between
architects’ work and that of
technical consultants and engineers, though. And in writing
this short article, I hope to clarify the subject and promote a more open discussion.

WHAT DOES YOUR
CLIENT EXPECT?
The first thing you must first
ask yourself is, “What do my
clients expect when I offer to do
architectural work for them?”
Clients¾internal or external
to your institution¾have expectations about an architectural description’s content, the services used to create the
descriptions, and the expected
knowledge and skills of information systems architects (that is, the technical, solution, and
enterprise architects) who will

deliver the content and services.
Clients’ expectations are
formed from a mixture of what
they’ve heard or read and their
prior knowledge of architectural work.

Definitions for
information systems
architecture
To determine client expectations, you must first define information systems architecture, because the work you do depends highly on how you define
it.There are as many definitions
for information systems architecture as there are colors in the light spectrum, and you can
surely focus on one that might fit
your fancy or particular need.A
savvy client, with some knowledge of architecture, will likely choose a standard definition¾
that is, one that organizations
with weight in the IT arena have
embraced. The IEEE, International Organization for Standardization, Open Group, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and many others have embraced the IEEE
1471-2000 standard, IEEE Recommended Practice for Architectural Description of SoftwareIntensive Systems. (As a side note, HP contributed to the
IEEE 1471 Committee that
defined that standard.)
IEEE standard 1471-2000
defines the information systems
architecture as, “The fundamental organization of a system embodied in its components,
their relationships to each other
and to the environment, and the
1520-9202/07/$25.00 © 2007 IEEE

principles guiding its design and evolution.” HP extends this definition: “Architecture is a formal description
of a system, defining its purpose, functions, externally visible properties, and interfaces. It also includes the description of the system’s internal components and their relationships, along with the principles governing its

design,...
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