OIAm Building Blocks Model

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The OIAm Building Blocks Model

The OIAm approach includes several best practices and a meta-model as a modelling tool. The approach is based largely on use of the model, and therefore model and approach cannot be considered separately. For practical reasons, however, this section of the document starts by describing the model. In a later section, we will deal with the specific parts of the approach which focuses on use of the model.

The prime aim of OIAm is to create infrastructure functionality based on standard modules. To underline this, the model has been called the "Building Blocks Model". In actual fact, the Building Blocks Model has several other important dimensions, but Building Blocks are the most characteristic ones. The Building Blocks Model is unique in that it provides a firm grip on complex infrastructure landscapes, and was designed as a result of comparing and investigating the working practices of senior infrastructure specialists and architects employed in large and medium sized companies.

Within OIAm, the Building Blocks Model serves three purposes:

  • The model is more than helpful during decomposition, development and definition of the infrastructure landscape. Functionality, Quality Attributes and technology are clearly identified, without creating overly stringent lines of division, but at the same time providing sufficient insight to facilitate consolidation of overlapping facilities. It provides a consistent translation of functionality into required technology and produces architecture documents that are structured, are readable and able to be discussed between infrastructure architects and other specialists.
  • The model yields reusable architecture products. Consistent application of the model creates a library of standard, logical infrastructure facilities (Building Blocks), which in each subsequent engineering process and related implementation can serve both as a reference and a starting point. New or changing situations (and the related requirements) can quickly be dealt with, because in many cases existing Building Blocks can be re-used. Using Building Blocks and standard modules promotes the expandability, adaptability and flexibility of the infrastructure landscape.
  • The model supports creating several architectural products, because it provides a maintainable structure for these products. Examples of products that benefit from the basic Building Blocks Model structure are Reference Architectures, Global Taxonomies, Impact Analyses and Product Start Architectures. In a following paragraph, these products are described in more detail.

The use of the Building Blocks Model obviously requires skilled infrastructure construction. As with every (meta)model, the Building Blocks Model provides an abstract approach to reality. It is a tool for structured development of infrastructure architecture to produce usable input for engineering processes. In that sense, it does not yield off-the-peg infrastructure products: the infrastructure specialists still have an essential contribution to make in creating real, usable services. Similarly, when creating a Building Block, specialists need to be directly involved to safeguard the relationship between the architecture and constructional skills. During the detailed specification of a Building Block, the required technical components and/or standards will be chosen and defined. The structure of the Building Blocks Model was specifically chosen to enable discussion and to facilitate defining functionality and Quality Attributes of infrastructure facilities within the architectural process.

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