Sunday, July 10, 2011

Evaluate MS BI Architecture Design

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Architecture Design of any solution in general is done by a solution architect or a group of architects like App Architect, Data Architect, Infra Architect etc and this group is guided by a solution architect. Design is one part of the SDLC but other part is reviewing the design. Design review is generally a very debatable matter, and almost every time there is a design review, one can expect a debate on right and wrong. The reason for the same is none of the sides have a defined parametrized process, against which one can assess the design. And as every design as well as design review is carried out on one's gut feeling and historical career experience / organizational design templates, design review ends up just as a formality than as a productive exercise.

There are two ways to deal with this issue.

1) Architecture TradeOff Analysis Method (ATAM) : It's an ideal solution where architectures are designed in an ideal way. If you live in an ideal world, the SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM) is the leading method in the area of software architecture evaluation. An evaluation using the ATAM typically would require a trained evaluation team, architects, and representatives of the architecture's various stakeholders. You can read more about this from here. This kind of review would also prepare you to shield your architecture against any audits like CMM, PCI etc.

2) Custom tailored design review process: The above mentioned design review process is a very standard one from a SEI perspective. If you live in a non-ideal world, many organizations would not be complying to SEI methods, standards and practices. Even those organization that claim to comply, would not have their 100% projects complying to the SEI methods. For projects and organizations of those scale, a very modest complexity of evaluation process is required, where a modest team or even a IT professional that wears many hat can conduct the design review.

For projects and requirements in such orbit, a custom tailored methodology for design as well as review should be defined, and architecture should be based on the defined method. One cannot develop the architecture on X method and review it against Y method. I have posted about one such custom tailored architecture design document template earlier, which can be read from here.

I by no mean intend to signal that one should avoid using ATAM, but if that method is not achievable start with a custom tailored one, which of course would not be a standard one. But once you have the maturity, skills and resources at your disposal, you should try to benchmark your architecture design against SEI standard methodologies, and that evaluation would be the correct design review for your architecture.

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