High-level Architecture

High-level architecture imperatives of Web based systems

The Sydney Harbour BridgeEarlier this year, I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend in Sydney who was on a short-term work assignment.

His accommodation was located adjacent to Sydney Harbour bridge.

If you live in Sydney (as I use to) you take the bridge for granted, in fact, if you’re a commuter, if can be a downright pain if you get stuck in the traffic.

While I waited for my friend to come out and meet me, I took the opportunity to take a couple of photos of my motorcycle with the bridge as backdrop.

I had travelled over this bridge for most of life, I had read books about its construction, I had climbed it with a friend, however, back in January this year, the ‘wow’ factor cut in.

Its purpose, what it does, how it was built, when it was built, who built it, and the location. When you start analysing it, its an amazingly architected wonder and a lot of thought went into to it.

If you look at the high-level architecture imperatives, we see the following. (Note! Put yourself in the picture back in 1920)

Imperative Response
What do we need? Access between the North side of Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson) to the South side to Sydney itself.
Why do we need it? Currently it takes some time to get to the other side of the harbour. You have to either go further west down the Parramatta river to cross, alternatively, catch a ferry or punt to get to the other side. This is time consuming and costly. Access is limited to a minority rather than the majority.
How will it be done? By creating a bridge that spans the Sydney harbour
When is it required? By 1933
Who will it be for? People who need to access either the north and south of the Sydney
Where will this be deployed? Adjacent to Sydney city to traverse the harbour.

Using this simple process, we can now apply this to any situation.

Let’s take a Web based system as an example.

What are the high-level imperatives or ‘scope’ for a Web based system used in an organisation?

Imperative Response
What do we need? An internal web based system that allows access organisation information, processes, procedures and other web based systems.
Why do we need it? Customer contact the company to find out information on product specifications. Staff are required access quickly product information. Currently the information exists in several system. Staff have to have several systems open on the desktop which is timely and cumbersome, especially when a telephone enquiry is underway. A system is require to allow quick and easy access to product information for customers and staff.
How will it be done? By implementing a web based system that aggregates the information in different system
When is it required? By the commencement of the next business year
Who will it be for? Customers and Staff
Where will this deployed? In the Internet environment for the Customers and in the organisation’s intranet environment for the Staff.

Now you can use this process to capture information down through several layers to get a better picture of your requirements. Some of those layers may be for instance:

  • Scope – This the big strategic view if the requirements (this is the table above)
  • Business Model – What are the business model that describe the scope
  • System View – What are the systems that will describe what’s needed
  • Technological Model – What Technologies will be used
  • Detailed Model – What are the detailed pieces of inventory that are required.

In the Enterprise computing scheme of things, this what we call the Zachman Enterprise Architecture Framework, created by John Zachman.

Information can be found at:

The great thing about using this approach is that it allows you to collect information on anything you need by asking the questions?

  • What is required?
  • Why is it required?
  • How will we do it?
  • When is it required?
  • Who is it for?
  • Where will this be deployed?


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Chris Mundy