Reference Architecture

How can business articulate what they need from IT? 

How can we enable large, disparate development teams to contribute to developing shared, reusable services?

Is a reference architecture the answer?

A reference architecture provides a template solution for an architecture to be implemented for a particular domain (Healthcare, Insurance, Justice).  It also provides a common vocabulary with which to discuss implementations to achieve the objectives of standards, reusable and shared.  In our work at the Innovation Center, CMS' Business Reference model was selected as the starting place for our common business functions and vocabuary.  For readers interested in healthcare, I'll do a follow up post presenting an example of a healthcare business reference model that could perhaps be adopted and refined by an organization such as the Federal Health Architecture.

A reference software architecture identifies the structures and respective elements and relationships,  provides templates for concrete architectures in a particular domain.  A reference architecture often consists of a list of functions ("Enterprise API") and some indication of their interfaces ("Service Contracts")  and interactions (models) with each other and with functions located outside of the scope of the reference architecture.

Adopting a reference architecture within an organization accelerates delivery through the re-use of an effective solution and provides a basis for governance to ensure the consistency and applicability of technology use within an organization

So the idea would be that one group develops the city plan and many contractors build out the city conforming to the specifications.  If the implementations conform to the interface specifications, the services should be interchangeable.  This would be similar to knowing that you can plug your lamp into an electrical socket and have a reasonable expectation that the lightbulb comes on.

Innovation Center Reference Architecture Mission: To enhance the Innovation Center’s model management capabilities through a reusable, service-oriented approach. We accomplish this mission by providing a reference architecture with guidance for identifying, defining, implementing, and governing services. 

The Innovation Center Reference Architecture (ICRA) is a model management solution designed to cut 80 percent of implementation time and costs for Innovation Center models through reuse of established promising practices in IT architecture and design.  Efforts to develop a reusable model management solution specific to the Innovation Center began with two pilot projects:  Innovation Center (a Landing Page) and Reusable Framework (RF).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg