University of Technology Sydney

32560 Information Systems Architecture Design

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2021 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Information Technology: Information, Systems and Modelling
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:

Postgraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 32557 Enabling Enterprise Information Systems
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses. See access conditions.

Description

This postgraduate subject addresses the large questions raised by agile practice on the role of architects. It is of particular relevance to students who are questioning how useful architecture and design is in an agile world where accepted best practice is to “fail fast” and iterate quickly rather than follow carefully laid plans.

More specifically, this subject introduces the student to two distinct forms of architecture:

  • Enterprise Architecture, which addresses the strategic question of how IT can best be utilised and aligned to support business needs. The subject focuses on a pragmatic form of enterprise architecture that accepts that organizations constantly evolve and that uncertainty is inescapable. This means that it is generally neither feasible nor desirable to design IT landscapes in exhaustive detail, and yet it would be risky to leave them to evolve at the whim of individual projects. Students learn which aspects of an organization are most useful to model, and develop a toolbox of artefacts to capture and communicate this information.
  • Solution Architecture, which addresses the tactical question of how best to deliver specific IT solutions that best address specific business needs. This subject focuses on how architects and analysts can work effectively with agile development teams, to ensure that business needs and architectural concerns are not lost in the agile software development process that might otherwise focus exclusively on end-users. It helps students recognise when aspects of a system should be defined up-front, and when they are better left to be discovered through the agile process. Students learn how and when to apply proven architectural patterns, how to recognise and avoid common architecture problems, and how to model system architectures using diagrams that are useful and easy to understand.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Model key aspects of the IT landscape of an organization and the forces that shape it, as a pragmatic set of enterprise architecture artefacts that bridge communication gaps between business-oriented and IT-oriented actors, and between strategic-level and tactical-level actors.
2. Plan IT initiatives with a sufficient level of detail that key stakeholders can make informed decisions.
3. Draw software architecture diagrams that are useful, easy to understand, and reflect the reality of how these systems are built.
4. Apply key software architecture principles and patterns for both the process (i.e. how to "do" architecture well) and the result (i.e. what good and bad architecture looks like).

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

  • Socially Responsible: FEIT graduates identify, engage, and influence stakeholders, and apply expert judgment establishing and managing constraints, conflicts and uncertainties within a hazards and risk framework to define system requirements and interactivity. (B.1)
  • Design Oriented: FEIT graduates apply problem solving, design thinking and decision-making methodologies in new contexts or to novel problems, to explore, test, analyse and synthesise complex ideas, theories or concepts. (C.1)
  • Technically Proficient: FEIT graduates apply theoretical, conceptual, software and physical tools and advanced discipline knowledge to research, evaluate and predict future performance of systems characterised by complexity. (D.1)
  • Collaborative and Communicative: FEIT graduates work as an effective member or leader of diverse teams, communicating effectively and operating autonomously within cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural contexts in the workplace. (E.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

The subject will be taught as a combination of lectures (1.5 hours per week) and tutorials (1.5 hours per week), and has an expected additional workload of 6 hours per week of self-directed study and/or groupwork.

Student understanding of subject content (i.e. from lectures, tutorial activities and assigned readings) will be frequently assessed through small weekly quizzes. Lectures will typically begin with a revision of the previous week’s quiz, and a discussion of any common difficulties or misconceptions that the quiz revealed. As such, these quizzes provide teaching staff with frequent feedback about what has been learned, and identify any topics that need to be revisited.

The remaining assessment tasks require students to engage with real stakeholders within a real organization in order to complete them. In the early weeks of the subject, students will be asked to nominate organizations that can act as suitable case-studies. These must be organizations that rely heavily on IT, and with whom the student has a high degree of familiarity and access. Groups will be formed around the most suitable organizations, and these organizations will be the focus of the remaining assessment tasks. Students will need to work collaboratively to develop a shared understanding of the organization and it’s needs. Each student will then need to work independently to draw on this shared understanding and propose an initiative that the organization could undertake.

Content (topics)

The subject primarily covers the following topics:

  • Business-IT Alignment, and why it is difficult to achieve and maintain.
  • The CSVLOD taxonomy of Enterprise Architecture artefacts (what each artefact is intended to capture and communicate, and how to develop them)
  • How to “do” architecture well: key principles and concepts of modern software architecture process (e.g. KISS, YAGNI, JIT, technical debt, and the last responsible moment)
  • What good (and bad) architecture looks like: common architecture patterns (e.g. layered, service-oriented, event-driven, microservices, etc) and anti-patterns (i.e. smells).
  • Cloud computing service models (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, etc) and their impact on information systems architecture.
  • The C4 Modelling language.

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Architecture Pattern report

Intent:

To demonstrate an in-depth understanding of an architecture pattern, and the ability to convey this understanding clearly and concisely.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

3 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

C.1 and D.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 15%
Length:

1-2 pages

Assessment task 2: Strategic Planning and Technology Optimization report

Intent:

To demonstrate ability to work as a group, to capture and communicate key information about and the IT landscape of an organization and the forces that shape it.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1 and 3

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1, D.1 and E.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 25%
Length:

8-10 pages

Assessment task 3: Stakeholder engagement logs

Intent:

To demonstrate that groups have conducted genuine and consistent stakeholder engagement in order to develop Strategic Planning and Technology Optimization reports.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

3

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1

Type: Journal
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 5%
Criteria:

5% for group presentation, 10% for individual presentation. Announcement to be made in class and UTSOnline by the subject coordinator.

Assessment task 4: Initiative proposal

Intent:

To demonstrate ability to propose an IT initiative that is consistent with prior enterprise architecture reports, and to concisely convey the information that stakeholders need to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the initiative.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

2 and 3

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1 and D.1

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 15%
Length:

8-10 minutes

Criteria:

Examine the knowledge gained.

Assessment task 5: Solution Overview

Intent:

To demonstrate ability to plan an IT initiative, with sufficient detail such that a (hypothetical) project team would have the information they need to proceed with implementation, and a clear contract of what they are expected to deliver.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

2, 3 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1 and D.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%
Length:

5-8 pages

Assessment task 6: Quizzes

Intent:

To assess your understanding of subject content gained from lectures, tutorials and assigned readings.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3 and 4

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

D.1

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, a student must achieve an overall mark of 50% or more.

Required texts

There is no required text book for this subject. All necessary materials (lecture slides, activities, readings, etc) will be distributed in class and/or online through Canvas.

Recommended texts

The practice of enterprise architecture: A modern approach to business and IT alignment. 2018. By: Kotusev, S.

Other resources

Links to resources required to support teaching and learning (e.g., articles, videos, etc.) will be available on Canvas, and will be updated throughout the session. Students may print, download or access them electronically for use in classroom activities or study, following applicable copyright policy. Some resources may be distributed directly in class, depending on the requirements of the activities.