The Telco Training Academy


Systems Architecture

After many years of operation and many generations of technology, most telco I/T departments are forced to deal with very large, very complicated computer systems support environments that are difficult to manage and very expensive to support. Most managers realize, in retrospect, that they would be decidedly better off if they had, from the beginning, considered the overall structure and design of their systems environment and paid attention to how the pieces of that system were put together.

If you are responsible for construction and maintenance of either new or existing systems, you will, at some point, wish you had a roadmap and a master plan that can simplify the many systems enhancement and construction decisions that need to be made.  What you will need then is a good systems architect to help put together your unique systems architecture plan.


What is Systems Architecture?

Systems architecture, like most systems development disciplines, is fraught with confusion, misunderstanding, and many difficult-to-remember acronyms and buzzwords. In fact, there are many different definitions of systems architecture and the first step is to settle on a definition that makes sense for you and for what you want.

For TTA, the definition of a systems architecture is simple and straightforward.

A systems architecture is a collection of standards, policies, practices, and templates that provide the managers of a computer systems environment with clear guidelines to follow when making enhancements or additions to their environment.

The objective of this architecture is to make answering the following questions easy:

  • What are the interdependencies between the various parts of my systems (between applications, databases, platforms, and network interfaces)?

  • How do I decide where and how to make changes and additions?

  • Which tool, technology, approach, hardware, software, language, protocol, or other component should be applied in each situation?

  • How are applications best consolidated or broken apart (and why)?


Step 1: The Architectural Review

The first step in the development of your systems architecture is an architectural review. The objective of this study is to develop an inventory of the following components of your system:

  • Hardware

  • Software

  • Network interfaces

  • Applications

  • Databases

  • Software tools

  • Programming tools

  • Systems development techniques

  • Systems support staffing approach

  • Systems administration and control methodologies

The next step is to assemble these components into an "as-is" model of your current (perhaps not well-thought-out) architecture. 


Step 2 : The Architectural Blueprint

The architectural review of the existing systems will let you understand exactly what the strengths and weaknesses of your current environment are and allows us to perform a "gap analysis" against industry best practices in each area.

Once we review this existing architecture and gap analysis with the I/T management team, we can create a "to-be" model. This model will define what the environment will look like after it has been converted to the new architectural framework .

Included in the architectural blueprint are:

  • Systems development standards

  • Architectural standards

  • Hardware/software/tool selection standards

  • Database administration standards and guidelines

  • I/T systems development disciplines and controls

  • A procedure for the maintenance of architectural integrity and for the continuous update of the architectural model to keep it consistent with policy


Step 3 : The Architectural Migration Plan

Finally, we can develop a systems architecture migration plan, which will lay out, in a straight-forward, step-by-step manner, exactly how this conversion to the new architectural environment will be carried out. It will include the following:

  • Plans for elimination/replacement of systems and tools that fail to comply with the blueprint

  • Plans for implementation of the new architectural management discipline

  • A timetable laying out how long it should take

  • Estimates of the cost benefits the migration should generate to the firm

Architectural Development Assistance 

We, at TTA, have great depth and breadth of experience with many aspects of systems architecture, including:

  • Different platforms (mainframe, servers, PCs)

  • Different operating systems (MVS, CMS, UNIX, LINUX, Windows (all))

  • Different applications (billing, collections, sales management, activation, provisioning, fraud detection, and others)

  • Different network technologies and network control systems

We can be counted on to be able to help you manage all of the phases of systems architecture development.


Combining Traditional and the Latest Architectural Approaches

Today's computer systems architecture environment is changing at an incredibly hectic pace, and it is difficult to keep up with the latest approaches. We can help you combine the best (and still very useful) methods of the past with the newest innovations in systems development. We have a great deal of experience working with approaches such as the TeleManagement group's TOM model and we combine them with new tools like XML, XHTML, SOAP (simple object action protocol), UDDI (universal description, discovery, and integration), and WSDL (Web services description language).

Systems Architecture Offerings

Our offerings in the systems architecture area include:

  • Systems Architecture Review and Recommendations

  • Systems Architecture Blueprint Development

  • Systems Architecture Migration Planning

  • Consultation regarding specific architecture components

    • Hardware consolidation/replacement

    • Database consolidation/replacement

    • Applications upgrade/replacement

    • Software consolidation (elimination of redundant products)