Every chief information officer would like to start with a clean sheet of paper on which to design a system in which every element worked seamlessly with every other. But enterprise IT systems today – the “back office” – are hostages to their history.
For most companies the IT script has been written and rewritten over the years and decorated with blots and smudges and crossings-out. The multiplicity of servers in many organisations, each running incompatible software, is mute testimony to that fact.
But even if they were able to start from scratch, there is no single answer to the question of how the ideal IT architecture should look.
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Greg Beard, IT architecture expert with PA Consulting Group, says organisations have to take stock of where they are and where they want to go with their back office systems. “A single unified system brings advantages, such as a common interface, fewer integration problems and easier business process management,” he says.
“However, replacing a number of existing systems with a single platform is a big project and should not be undertaken lightly. An organisation can choose to link up its systems incrementally by using a common ‘messaging’ layer to allow an easier upgrade path without the need to replace everything.