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Realizing the Business Value of IT: An Approach for Architecture Evaluation (SATURN 2008)

  • April 2008
  • By Opal Perry (Wells Fargo & Company)
  • Opal Perry of Wells Fargo & Company discusses efforts to extend aspects of SEI architectural evaluation methods within a division of his company that deployed a production system using SOA.
  • Publisher: Software Engineering Institute
  • This presentation was created for a conference series or symposium and does not necessarily reflect the positions and views of the Software Engineering Institute.
  • Abstract

    This presentation will discuss our efforts to extend aspects of SEI architectural evaluation methods within a division of Wells Fargo and Company that has recently deployed a production system using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach. Our focus was on developing a mechanism to articulate critical business processes as the context within which quality attribute requirements could be concretely defined and the supporting architecture evaluated. In leveraging and extending the SEI methods, we sought to ensure that evaluation proceedings and results provided practical and immediate meaning to business stakeholders in terms of measuring and realizing true business value. The concrete articulation of critical business processes and their associated quality attribute requirements represents a significant step forward in our environment as a starting point for measuring availability and performance in the context of true business value instead of simply technical uptime or response time. In the past, we might have been satisfied that a component was up 99.9% of the time or performed well within its service level, but the business could view it as a failure because some other component, which was needed to complete a critical business process, was unavailable. For this reason, the focus on the critical business processes has influenced our approach to both discovering and documenting quality attribute requirements as well as evaluating the architecture designed to achieve them. We will describe the key aspects of our approach and how we leveraged and extended SEI techniques such as the Quality Attribute Workshop (QAW) and Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM) to create a practical approach for evaluating the architecture's ability to meet the essential quality attribute requirements that would provide the most business value within the context of the business capability roadmap. This customized approach was necessary in our environment due to the size of the system being evaluated, time, and resource constraints, as well as cultural realities. Additionally, we will discuss how we organized stakeholder participation in prework and the approach taken for conducting sessions in early 2008. We will share our observations and plans for future activities and discuss the challenges of extending architecture evaluation methods within a culture not previously familiar with scenario-based methods as well as the challenges associated with bringing business and technical stakeholders together to discuss expectations and issues. In offering this presentation, we hope to contribute to an active dialogue on architecture evaluation methods in the software development community, with a focus on the realization of true business value.

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