Think Architecture, Not just Vendor Application

We move into the New Year with anticipation of doing great things with our infrastructure and improve the efficiency of our operations. Unfortunately, many have a tendency to look at the latest great thing (e.g., application, Operating System, etc…) as the magic bullet. Each vendor points to how his/her product is the “killer app” that will save our infrastructure. I am not a cynic, but before we invest time and money into a product we need to step back and make sure we are implementing the correct architecture. This is especially true for SMB or government directorates/offices with their own budgetary authority. The term architecture (from the Greek word architektonike) can refer to a process, a profession, or documentation. As a process, architecture is the activity of design¬ing and constructing buildings and other physi¬cal structures primarily to provide shelter. In our context, architecture is a structured process to help ensure the stability of valuable business processes and assets. I like to think a good architecture is constructed in pyramid layer fashion, from the ground up. Every lasting architecture has been conducted in this manner – Whether structural (Egypt or Mexico) or logical (ISO layers) or a combination of both (network infrastructure/virtualization). I find it comforting to see the major players like Cisco, VMware, EMC and Symantec collaborating to provide a solution to a fragmented architecture. A good architecture allows the designer flexibility in both the vertical and horizontal plane of his design. Vertically, it will account for the foundation and services (network and user/application) layers and horizontally, it will consider the business foundation of the organization. It will consider size, location, and business policies and procedures. It should be flexible enough to accommodate the 1000 person office located on a metro campus or dispersed state wide and since one size does not fit all a good baseline architecture should also fit the small 25 person branch with teleworkers. An example baseline architecture is shown below. This example is based on a Cisco model but can be applied universally. Have a Blessed Holiday and a Great New Year. 

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