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Wait, hold it, no. We don't tell you how to reconfigure your servers. For us, "architecture" means "application architecture, the complete collection of all the systems you have (including legacy systems) and how they function in the business.

Try an exercise. On a (big) piece of paper, put a circle down for every business application you're running. (Don't count the desktops or operating systems.)If the application is big, make the circle big; use small circles for small apps. For ease of visualization, group the circles by functional area.

Now connect the circles with arrows; if data is (or should be) passed between two applications, put in an arrow, or if one application depends on another, put in an arrow.

We call the result the "spaghetti chart," for obvious reasons.

It's usually a good idea for IT organizations to simplify their spaghetti chart. Fewer circles, bigger ones, arrows that express real functional dependence = lower costs, greater simplicity, fewer integrations, greater business effectiveness.

Not always, of course. Sometimes that little circle in the corner hides a huge money-maker, something you would never want to get rid of.

To simplify the chart, therefore, you really need to know what commercial applications are out there that can be effective replacements for the apps you have now.

Isn't that what analyst firms do? Well, not really. Most analyst firms don't go deep enough. Yes, they can tell you the leaders--though you need, in Mike Hogan's words, to "take what they say with a truckload of salt." But they don't have the time (or often, the knowledge) to go deeply enough into your requirements and into the application's capabilities.

Because our economic model is different, we can use our research to figure out architectures, and we can and do help companies simplify their spaghetti charts.

If you are interested in talking more to us about work in IT architecture, please contact us.