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By Jean Hartley – The concept of an “IT landscape” has emerged among manufacturing companies. Today, more and more high- tech businesses are sharing how they build their multi-layered information systems.
The IT landscape or IT architecture is a collection of information systems, services, services and products that a company uses to support or improve its operations: in production, in communications, in analytics, in accounting – or to generate revenue.
Now every company that uses the Internet for business has its own IT landscape. For small companies it can be as simple as possible: consisting of a single landing page with ten products and an online cash register, assembled piece by piece from the offers on the market. It’s faster and cheaper that way.
But also the IT landscape can be a whole set of advanced tools to manage finances, human resources, sales, marketing activities, tech support, data collection. Such a complex landscape can be found, for example, in large marketplaces and online banks. Some of the giants even sell their technical expertise.
The number of components of the IT landscape is influenced by which principle the company uses to build it: a monolith or microservices. In the first case, all components of the landscape are launched and work simultaneously. In the second, the components are launched separately, at the request of the user, but are interconnected.
The IT landscape has several classifications:
- for the end user – only employees use the internal parts of the landscape, clients and contractors get access to the external ones;
- by functional use – employee communication (Slack, Zoom), business process management (Jira, Google Drive), business process description (Confluence, Aris), CRM for order processing;
- by architectural division – servers, modems (“hardware”), code, service, API for integrating systems with each other;
- by type of ownership – rented or owned;
- by type of creation – a market solution, self-written (created by the company from scratch), self-assembly (created by the company using ready-made open source blocks).
Each of these classifications is used depending on the nature of the task facing the specialists.
Purposefulness. The manager and his team should understand what the system will be in the near and long term, and how it will help the company.
Scalability. As the company grows, the landscape will also become more complex, so there should always be room for changes and updates.
Payback. It is important that expenses for introduction of the new solution or changes of the current one are compensated by increase of productivity or speed of work of systems, employees. Therefore, it is necessary to select new tools not only by their functions, but also by the optimal price and the way of possession.
Consistency. Parts of the landscape should be interconnected, and operation of one part should not interfere with operation of another part or cause bugs in it. The simplest example is frontend- and backend-systems: data from one must “flow” into the other and back.
No duplication. This is the growth point of large corporations. You can often find cases when specialists use three systems with almost the same functions at once, or when two teams solve the same problem independently of each other. At the same time, the “duplicates” weigh down the system and increase the cost of supporting the landscape.
Security. Personal customer and employee data, business metrics, analytical reports – this and other information needs protection from cyberattacks. The more complex the IT landscape, the more nuances need to be considered to provide it.
Usability. It is necessary for the IT landscape to be convenient for the employees as well as for external users, if they are supposed to be.
It is important to remember that working on improving the landscape is an ongoing job. The entire landscape is not being updated. There will always be priority changes. After all, when we install an operating system update on our phone, we are not updating the device itself.
Its hardware remains the same. But after some time, for example after two years, you might need to replace the parts. However, if the phone can simply be replaced, doing the same with the system on which the business “lives” without suspending it is unreal.
The work on the IT landscape is supervised by the CTO (Chief technical officer) assisted by, for example, a systems analyst or a product manager. The choice of the CTO depends on the structure of the company. But it is equally important that the team that is going to do it, understands why they are changing this or that part of the system.
Briefly, the algorithm for working with the IT landscape is as follows:
- Analyze the current state of your IT landscape. To do this, you can use the key principles I described above. Does it meet all of them? To what extent?
- Collect feedback on working with the IT landscape. Interview your employees and customers. What problems do they face? What would they like to change in it and why?
- Highlight growth points and prioritize them. See which ones are most critical to effective business performance and which ones can wait, as fixing them won’t improve efficiency in an obvious way.
- Include the former in the current backlog. Rank the latter by the importance of the changes and also put them in a queue to be done as a technical duty, which also has its own procedures for fixing.
You can use CJM and Canvas, John Zachman’s enterprise architecture, Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN), and UML diagrams to draw up product methodologies. ER diagrams, data flow digram (DFD) will help in modeling data warehouses, links, sources. For a visual representation of the entire IT landscape, it is worth using ARIS, Visio, Miro, MindMap. In the latter, you can make top-level maps.
- Any company that is present on the Internet has an IT landscape.
- Although it varies in size and difficulty, the criteria for its quality remain the same.
- The IT landscape is not a figure carved in stone. It is a flexible system that can and should be changed if changes to it will increase the efficiency of work or the level of business security.
Jean Hartley has been working as a project manager for an IT company for over 7 years. She also manages freelance projects as an essay writer. Jean is an excellent technical and essay writer and will be the best help for your exam preparation.
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