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TOGAF & UC Architecture

As the IT industry adopts The Open Group Architecture Forum (TOGAF) as the standard enterprise IT architecture framework, UC architects should leverage this framework to build UC solutions. Unified Communications requires a lot of planning to integrate the people, processes, information, and technology together to provide UC solutions. UC is not a project, but an overall solution that has constantly evolving requirements.

Besides the framework, it also provides a common approach and lexicon for talking about architecture. The figure below is an overview of the framework.

The most useful feature of the methodology is that it is a circular process based around requirements. Too often, IT departments get a list of UC business requirements, create a solution, and hand it back to the business to fund. The business is usually shocked by the cost and the extended time and effort to implement. The business will then either shelve the project, look to an outsourcer, go to vendors for second opinions, or just implement the bare minimum.

A very constructive way to approach UC architecture is to:

* Create a 3-5 year vision based on all the requirements that the following steps build
* Gather business current and known future requirements and prioritize
* Define where all the information and systems reside to build the solution
* Verify the underlying technical infrastructure can adapt to current and future requirements
* Track technology, market, & business opportunities like SIP, SaaS, B-C
* Build a migration plan, for an evolution is better than a revolution
* Create Governance so various business units within an enterprise can leverage common solutions
* Expect changes to occur regularly and formalize the process

This entire process should them be repeated 1 to 4 times a year. Too often, UC is built project by project without an underlying architecture that ties together all the requirements. Also, requirements and opportunities are constantly evolving, requiring continuous changes to be made. A key indicator of success is when business and technology folks have a mutual understanding of the high level desires and challenges that each faces. With this, trust is built, the hard questions are asked, and decisions are made. Architecture takes competing requirements and creates a methodology towards coming up with a solution. The old adage of "faster, better, cheaper--pick 2 of the 3" is an example of the balance that architecture brings based on competing requirements.

Architecture is a framework for which change can occur. Without architecture, all change is just chaos. Ever try to build a house without the blueprint architecture?

For more information on TOGAF, visit here.