Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Management: Lifecycle, Project, Team

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Systems Integration and Engineering Techniques

But the problem we're talking about isn't new, is it? People have been trying to deliver complex systems for more than 40 years. There must already be some pretty reasonable Elephant Eaters out there.

Now that we have a good understanding of the problem, it's a good idea to take a closer look at some of the solutions that are already out there and see why, given the meager 30 percent success rate noted in the Preface, we need a new Elephant Eater.

Generally, these big problems need to be approached via formal techniques. These techniques work from two different directions. They either work their way down from the top, gaining increasing levels of detail, or they start from the bottom, examining needs in detail and working their way upward, building toward a complete solution.

Walk the Easy Path or...

If you're infinitely lucky, the bottom-up approach might work. Considering a very simple example, you could select a package that seems close to what you need. You could then walk through the business processes you want to execute. As you go, you can write down all the changes you need to make to the package, and, presto! After you've made the changes, you've got a solution! You've designed the whole system from the ground up because the package dictates your choices for how you do pretty much everything else.

If you don't allow the package to dictate your choices, chances are, you will find yourself in a very sticky mess: Each major change you make will require extra development, testing, and long-term maintenance costs. If you've chosen the bottom-up approach, you must stick to it religiously and accept the changes it will impose on the process and the business.

Ultimately, a package with a good fit, whether imposed or a lucky choice, is the very best in bottom-up solutions. Start halfway up the hill—the package already approximates what you want. Then modify the solution iteratively with the end user and find a happy endpoint near the top of the hill.

However, chances are, for a really complex project, using the bottom-up approach with a single package will not work. You must break down the problem into smaller pieces and then integrate them to create a single solution. You can divide up the problem in two fundamental ways.

...Break the Boulders and Make Them Smooth

You can decompose the problem into smaller, more easily managed Views through two methods: splitting and abstraction. Splitting simply divides complex big chunks into smaller, more manageable pieces. Abstraction removes detail from each larger chunk to form more manageable and understandable pieces. These two techniques, splitting and abstraction, allow almost any gargantuan problem to be subdivided into smaller, better contained problems. Think of it as slicing the problem into little squares.

Abstraction gives you horizontal cuts, while View splitting gives you vertical ones. Everything becomes a manageable "chunk." This is the basis for most systems integration and engineering methods. Many of these methods are proprietary, but some, such as The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) from the Open Foundation, are freely available. Each approach tries to create a continuum of knowledge, from high-level representations to more detailed. These paths vary but can be characterized as moving in some way from logical to physical, general to specific, or taxonomy to specification.

When good methods or tools are used, there is traceability from the high level to the low level. This helps a reader understand why something has been designed the way it has.

Such movement is unsurprisingly characterized as a progression, starting from the high-level principles and overall vision of what needs to be achieved, and moving down through the perspectives of business, process, roles, and models of information. Figure 6.1 highlights the basic stages of the TOGAF method.

Figure 6.1

Figure 6.1 Even with its cyclic diagram, TOGAF is part of the progressive school of architecture.

Some approaches go even further. They segment each level of abstraction into a number of separate perspectives. Of these "frameworks," the enterprise architecture framework produced by John Zachman of IBM in the 1980s is probably the most famous. Called the Zachman Framework, it considers the additional dimension of Data, Function, Network, People, Time, and Motivation. Figure 6.2 illustrates how the Zachman Framework segments the architecture into these perspectives.

Figure 6.2

Figure 6.2 The Zachman Framework of Enterprise Architecture segments the architecture into a variety of perspectives.

These approaches enable you to decompose the full width and breadth of the problem (including the existing constraints) into separate Views so that a suitably skilled guru can independently govern and maintain them.

At the very top of this top-down approach is a simple sheet of paper that purports to show or describe the scope of the whole problem for that particular perspective. A single sheet of paper might even purport to summarize the 10,000-foot view for all the perspectives.

Below that top sheet are many more sheets that describe each element on the sheet above. This technique is so well recognized that it's applied to almost everything in complex problems, whether we're talking about the shape of the system, the business processes that it executes, or the description of the plan that will build it.

In this hierarchy of paper, the top tier is labeled Level 0; the next tier down, Level 1; and so on. At each layer, the number of sheets of paper increases, but each of these sheets is a manageable View. The problem has been successfully decomposed. In the example in Figure 6.3, our single-page business context that describes the boundaries of the problem we're solving is gradually decomposed into 60,000 pages of code, deployment information, and operational instructions that describe the whole solution. At each step of the way, the intermediate representations all correspond to a View.

Figure 6.3

Figure 6.3 Decomposition of a complex problem space

After the problem has been decomposed into single sheets, or Views, rules must be written and applied to specify how they work together.

Surely that solves our problem. The elephant has been eaten. Complexity is reduced, so each area becomes manageable. Each person is dealing with only a bit of the problem.

This is, of course, precisely what the world's largest systems integrators do. They define their Views in terms of work products or deliverables. They come from different perspectives and at different levels of abstraction. The systems integrators have design and development methods that describe who should do what to which View (or work product) and in what order.

So if the problem is essentially solved, why does it go wrong so often?

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020