Why are reference architectures crucial?


You’ve certainly done over and over in your career without realizing it. Architecting solutions made of multiple components that will eventually work together to deliver a quantifiable service level, enabling your business to be ahead of the game.

A reference architecture provides a template, often based on the generalization of a set of solutions. These solutions may have been generalized and structured for the depiction of one or more architecture structures based on the harvesting of a set of patterns that have been observed in a number of successful implementations”   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reference_architecture


So what has changed?

Nothing has really changed i would say, besides maybe making the work official, and having it be supported by the the “three” ones you had in mind. 

The truth is we can now rely on proven architecture, and behind this word, proven, lays a significant amount of hours that we can’t afford to spend in our every day. Unless you can access best of bread hardware on demand, this is no longer a single mind thinking on how to enable IT to be supporting the lines of business.

 So how is this helping me?

a reference hardware is, in my humble opinion, a reference matrix that allows to be referencing thousands and thousands of hours of tests, validations, confirmations, alignment and deployment strategies.

 Have you ever wonder why some project are highly successful while other are challenged although the architecture requirements are identical? Often, the root of the problem is a lack of horizontal communication across all projects regarding architectural choices.

 it is up to you to think about the unthinkable and forecast an unpredictable future… but you’re not alone anymore, and you have to admit that this type of mind team working is highly exciting and very profitable for each party.

 So what’s the DNA of it?

i was in the past puzzled between guideline and standard. They look alike but are so different in essence. Standard defines for you what you need; guidelines enables you with the right reference to take an enlighten decision. i always questioned standard from outsiders; it is challenging for me to understand how outsiders are able to understand the essence of my organization, hence why i am a “guideline’ guy than a “standard” guy when comes the time to architect. 

While there is some fundamentals that you should always rely on (like bandwidth for example), overall, your expertise is needed to align what’s best for you. Think of it another way: standards are rules to be followed; reference architectures are guidelines to be customized. 

So what should i do?

i believe there is no one better than you to understand the business requirements you wish to achieve and need to fulfill. While you are far capable of designing your own infrastructure, “two heads are better than one” so you should always consider this mindset when thinking about what to do.

 It ends up been a personal choice, and none is right or wrong. The wrong thing to do would be to silo yourself and not look at how the world has in evolve on the topic. In this cloud era, the multitude of components needed to work together is endless my friends,  so why reinvent the wheel, when the fundamentals of “a wheel” are out there, waiting for your to be more efficient for your needs.

 So do you have an example?

we can always refer to our past when this question is raised. We’ve all done it and succeed. i have worked on a customer’s datacenter makeover; from one, fragmented datacenter alignment, we’ve enable this customer is align and prepare for the future. 

Often the customer asked us the question: “how can you be so sure?”.

 My answer what simple… or not… Been successful is not so much about been the best at what you do, but been the best at listening. Often the answers are in the question, so how can we be so sure? We listen, understand, analyze, resume, circle back and think about the individual, the business challenges and overall have a clear understanding of how this project will help. That is key! Listen!

Then comes the fun part. Once you have through fully understood and listened, the choices are defined by themselves. Is the customer in front of me a “standard” type of guy, or a “guideline” type of guy. Every project’s success is measure by the “people”s buy in” and is this is not achieve, no matter what you will align, it will be a failure, plain and simple.


So once you have defined the type of interlocutor in front of you, the next step is to align towards the “Light”. Say, you have an interlocutor that’s more a “guideline” type of guy, the next question to ask is: “how “flexible” is the interlocutor”?

Flexibility is at the core of a reference architecture and allows to understand the level of agility required by the project or transformation process.

You have now all the pieces to standard building your thoughts aligned with the requirements and in sync with your customer.

 Easy no?  You can now have fun and pick and choose… support by references, and thousands of engineers that have worked for you

 I’d love to hear from you; please share your thoughts, drop me a note.

Happy long weekend friends.



About florenttastet

As an IT professional and leader, my objective is to help an organization grow its IT department with new and innovative technologies in order to have production at the most efficient level ensuring the right alignment in the deployment of such technologies through a precise Professional Services results in a extraordinary experience for the customer. Team member of multiple projects, I have developed a strict work ethic allowing development of superior communication skills, as well as the ability to multi-task and meet precise deadlines. As an IT veteran with a broad background in consulting, management, strategy, sales and business development, I have developed an deep expertise in virtulization using VMware and Citrix products with a strong skillset on Storage Arrays (HP, EMC, Netapp, Nimble & IBM). I have also developed a Security practice through CheckPoints NGX R65-R66 (CCSA obtained) and Cisco PIX-ASA product line. Specialties: Microsoft infrastructure products; Monitoring HPOV, SCOM, CiscoWorks, Firewalls: checkpoint, PIX and ASA. Virtualization with VMware (ESX through vSphere & View/Horizon), Microsoft (Hyper-V server, VDI and App-V), Citrix (Xenserver, XenDesktop, Xenapp), Storage (EMC, HP, Netapp, Nimble & IBM), Reference Architectures and Converged Datacenters (vSPEX, Flexpod, vBlock, PureFlex & HP Matrix)
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