What is architecture?

DW 2.0, the architecture for the next generation of data warehousing, is designed to meet the information needs of the entire corporation.

This article originally appeared on the BeyeNETWORK

There are several criteria to determine if architecture is a real architecture. They are:

  • What are the components of the architecture?
  • What is the function of each component?
  • How do the components interact with each other? (What are the dynamics of the components?)
  • What is the functionality of the whole? (When I finish building the thing, what do I have?)
  • What makes the whole entity distinctive? (How can I tell the thing from any other thing?)

 Without these elements of architecture, there really is no architecture.

Let’s take this definition of architecture and apply it to a classical case of Greek architecture. All Greek temples – including the Temple of Zeus and the Parthenon – have components such as roofs, columns, floors and marble stairways as part of their architecture. Each of the components of Greek temples has a function. The roof protects one from the elements. The columns support the roof, and the marble stairs lead into the structure. The dynamics of the different components of Greek temples are simple. The floor holds people and objects, and the columns support the ceiling. The functionality of the whole is also simple – the Greek temple was where people met, worshipped, gossiped or perhaps even plotted the overthrow of the government. The distinctiveness of the Greek temples is the marble, the fluting of the columns, the type of column (Ionic, Doric or Corinthian), etc. All Grecian temple features led to distinctiveness. No one mistakes a Grecian temple for an office building or a convenience store. 

Now let’s apply these criteria for architecture to information systems. Let’s use DW 2.0, the architecture for the next generation of data warehousing, as defined at www.inmoncif.com. Some of the basic components of DW 2.0 include the recognition that data has a life cycle. As a consequence, there are different sectors of data. The basic components of DW 2.0 are the interactive sector, the integrated sector, the near-line sector and the archival sector.  

Each of the sectors of DW 2.0 has its own function. The interactive sector is the place where there is real-time processing, the integrated sector is where there is the single version of the truth, the near-line sector is the place for older data, and the archival sector is the place for inactive data. DW 2.0 fulfills the condition of stating what each component does. 

DW 2.0 also describes how the different components work together, and the larger holistic function of DW 2.0 is to manage the complete information needs of the entire corporation. Finally, there are unique characteristics of DW 2.0: the intermixing of structured and unstructured data, the close intertwining of metadata with the structure, and the recognition of the life cycle of data.  

In short, DW 2.0 is a real architecture. For a more detailed description of DW 2.0 and its components, refer to http://www.inmoncif.com/.

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