Architectures and Solutions
Network-based Services as Architecture Artifacts
Good Enterprise Architecture helps ensure that business strategy and IT investments are aligned. IT resources that are documented and/or modeled to contribute to an architectural description become artifacts. As organizations expand and affiliate, their enterprise architecture becomes more complex. Forward-looking enterprises want architectures that will meet the current and future needs of their organization with a catalog of artifacts that are agile and adaptable in supporting business capabilities.As technology continues to grow new resources for architecture artifacts are becoming available on what seems a daily or even hourly basis and some come from unexpected sources. The network has gradually become an important provider of architectural services. Classic transport networks have been optimized to increase throughput, availability, and configurability and are increasingly application-aware. But many enterprise architects still think of the network layer as infrastructure for transport and remain unaware of the new application-related, value-add services that today’s network can provide.When I think of network-based services that are application centric, I think of two types. The first type are exposed services, or those services with a well-defined and well-documented set of API’s that create new functionality in applications through a request/response method. Examples include presence and location information. Information the network is able and ready to give in real-time that an application can then use to streamline a business process. The second type are transparent services, or those services that don’t require an explicit call from an application, but are implicit through best practices and configuration options. Examples include application acceleration and virtualization services. Services that in a properly architected enterprise perform as expected.By properly cataloging and documenting network-based services, an enterprise architect will have new artifacts to simplify and standardize many of the capabilities that need to be provided by IT to support business processes. Explore the network-based services that are offered today. You may be surprised at what Cisco and the network have to offer.