By: Peter Abrahams, Practice Leader - Accessibility and Usability, Bloor Research
Published: 30th June 2003
Copyright Bloor Research © 2003
A Marchitecture is an architecture produced for marketing reasons, normally by a vendor. It is designed to put the vendor in the best possible light by emphasising the positive as well as hiding the negative. If you are in marketing you will spell it Marketecture.
Whereas an architecture is an attempt to define how the various, and many, components of a system fit together and interact.
Why do we produce architectures and why do they seldom meet the various demands laid on them?
The first question is easy to answer. Any system that is worth discussing is complex and human brains are not good at dealing with complexity. Our solution is to divide the world up into manageable chunks and then show how they relate. Having done this we have the added advantage that we can modify or replace bits without breaking the whole; as well as handing the individual components out to separate groups for development.
The more difficult question is why are they often inadequate?
The first requirement is that an architecture should be a graphical representation with written back up. This leads to the first set of reasons for inadequate architectures. Some people are less able to think graphically than others. More serious is the medium used - two dimensional A4 pieces of paper, or the digital equivalent. Architectures, like the plans for a house do not conveniently flatten themselves out into two dimensions.
The second requirement is that the picture should mean something meaningful. Sounds obvious but too often two boxes are put side by side for no apparent reason except that the producer wanted both of them on the same piece of paper.
Please tell us about your pet hates in marchitecture diagrams.
Here is my list as a starter:
In a future article I will discuss some techniques to alleviate these problems. In the meantime if you are looking at an area, first devise your own architecture and then use that to critique vendor diagrams.
Posted: 30th June 2003 | By Wendy Hewson :
I'm as guilty as the next analyst of producing Marchitectures!
The bits left out because they're not supported by the vendor get my vote!
Posted: 30th June 2003 | By Rodd Bond :
I'm really interested to see a discussion on architectural representation develop. For complex problems, once you move into multiple visualisations the issue of relationships between the views (a framework) pops-up with multiple models of different types. The US gov's FEAF, Zachman, and ISO15704 have approaches that highlight different dimensions of the challenge.(perspectives/life-cycles/transitions etc). The OMG's MDA/UML can help from an IT person's orientation - but there still seems to be a hugh gap in our ability to clearly and meaninglfully communicate the structural, behavioural and interface (ecological) aspects of enterprise architecture to those who really need it -enterprise owners and business process managers. I look forward to your future artlcles.
Posted: 7th July 2003 | By John :
An architecture is not 'articulate' if it cannot be explained within 30minutes or half-an-hour, whichever units you prefer. Less than this is often only a sub-system and more is several architectures or a muddle!
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