INSS737 - Management of Information Systems - Fall 2000

IT Architecture

Lecture notes

Information Architecture is the organization's IT infrastructure, including policies and guidelines to manage the IT resources: computers, data, software and communications facilities. It is also a blueprint for the deployment and management of IT.

It is comprised of two major layers: (a) IT resources and (b) IT management, as shown in figure 1 . In this class meeting we are focusing on the IT resources layer, while in future classes we will discuss the IT management layer.

The IT resources are also layered as shown in figure 2. The applications layer is presently centered in desktop (mostly PC and workstation) end-user software packages, rather than in-house developed software.

The IT tools layer comprise information analysis, information packaging and delivery, communications, knowledge, and application development tools. Again, software packages tend to win over in-house developed tools. Information packaging and delivery moved from proprietary EIS (executive information systems) to intranets (Microsoft,CIO,CIR) communication packages moved from proprietary to Internet-based systems; application development tools moved from simple CASE to data-based oriented (e.g. Oracle) and/or integrated design (SAP) tools.

The connectivity and information management layers have also seen dramatic changes. The rise of networking is a phenomenon of the last decade, and the majority of the business users are still struggling to cope with it (for example, I have about twelve passwords that I am supposed to remember, if I know in what part of the network I am). Information management saw the conversion of flat-files to data bases, from hierarchical to relational and object-oriented data bases, with most IT professionals still learning object-orientation, today.

Read the textbook pages 208-217 for a well documented discussion of the changes in Information Architecture in the last 30 years.

Read also (pages 218-221) the discussion on measuring value creation in a networked environment:

Finally, the issues for the 2000's are not trivial (see textbook pages 221-234). Merging the islands of automation in client-servers, or other types of future architecture are neither easy or cheap. Designing global networks are again costly and difficult to do, but of paramount importance for integration and electronic commerce. Internet security issues are a growing concern. Dealing with legacy systems is an endless task, for as soon we convert systems from a technology to another, newer technologies require another conversion cycle. Also, from time to time, legacy systems create crisis situations like the Year 2000 problem, or a vendor going out of business, or yet discontinuing a system (software or hardware).

Case instructions

We will use a simple framework to analyze each case: (a) what is the problem, (b) what are the alternatives, and (c) what are the recommendations; like we have done before. We have two cases this week: Frito Lay 1980-1986 (3-2) and Frito-Lay 1987-1992 (3-3). We will discuss the first on-line only, and both in class. You should write the report based on the second case, but aware of the first.

1. What is the problem?

Why is it a problem? Is there a decision involved? If it is a problem, what are the pros and cons that makes it a problem?

2. What are the alternatives?

What can be done? There is always the do nothing alternative. If everything went well (rosy scenario) what we would like to do? If everything went wrong (doomsday scenario) what should we do? What can we do in between the rosy and the doomsday scenarios? What are pros and cons of each alternative? Be sure to list not only alternatives, but pros and cons.

3. What is you recommendation?

What criteria should we use to select the most suitable alternative in the case? Why you are recommending one alternative versus the others? How this alternative satisfies your criteria? How to implement the alternative you selected?

This page is maintained by Al Bento who can be reached at This page was last updated on October 10, 2000. Although we will attempt to keep this information accurate, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.