The devil is in the detail when you create IT solutions. There are so many things to consider, from architectural complexity, innovation, reliability, standards conformance, market opportunity, strategic value and cost savings to the need to change.
By Paula Ziehr
Just as my colleague was holding the fall season’s first Alfabet Portfolio Playbook webinar on “Choosing the Right Solution Architecture,” I was arriving in Chicago. Chicago is a city so well-known for its architectural feats of the last two centuries that there are tours, exhibits and information centers galore on the subject. Finding the parallels between IT solution architecture and building architecture wasn’t difficult.
The webinar talks about finding creative IT solutions to support “a discrete and focused business operation” and about understanding the foundation you’re working on with all of its opportunities and restraints. This reminded me greatly of architect Daniel Burnham’s seemingly insurmountable obstacles in constructing the colossal buildings that would mark the 1983 Chicago World’s Fair: the marshy consistence of the ground so that a totally new type of foundation needed to be invented (which he did), the politics that kept key innovations (like the Ferris Wheel) from completing on time, and trying to complete what significantly exceeded other world’s fairs in the time of a serious economic recession. (I highly recommend reading “Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson for a fascinating account of the fair).
The webinar also talks about looking at solutions from the various perspectives I mentioned above and about using these KPIs to weigh alternative solution architectures and to assess a change in plans.
Sitting on the evening architecture boot tour with a Chicago Mule* in my hand, I marveled at the constructions along the Chicago River (a river whose flow had actually been reversed!) and got an understanding of how the architects of those great buildings looked for creative solutions to solving problems, analyzed the alternatives and measured risks.
My favorite architectural solution for a building was one that placed massive water tanks on the tops of skyscrapers to reduce the amount of sway at the top (which was several feet!), caused by the famous winds that batter the city. The thought of someone coming up with the idea of water sloshing back and forth on top of these glass and steel mammoths - to ensure people would want to move in a pay exorbitant rents - was pretty entertaining. And the idea was multi-purpose! In case of a fire, the water could be let out to drown the fire! Who would have thought that getting sloshed was such a great idea?
Another building was designed with the great idea of having an empty floor or two in the middle to reduce the effect of the winds coming off Lake Michigan. Simple but ingenious!
And you can be ingenious with your IT solution architectures, too. With the right architecture planning tool, you can architect the devil out of your IT landscape. Watch the webinar.
Choosing the Right Solution Architecture
* Tito’s Vodka, Lime, and Barritts Ginger Beer