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What Is Holistically Managed Architecture?

A holistically managed architecture is one in which we can treat a multifaceted technology environment as a single entity. A good example of this is an architecture that allows you to manage storage, network, and compute across your on-premises, public cloud, private cloud, and edge environments as a single hybrid cloud environment regardless of how many physical servers, data centers, or cloud service providers actually make up that infrastructure.

What Is Holistically Managed Architecture?

Holistic IT architecture contains several components, but each component works to bring value to what is considered the single IT network. The corporate IT environment supports every aspect of the business from productivity and sales to customer service, so it must be managed in a way that keeps it available, especially during peak business hours. Holistically managing architecture treats the environment as a single entity that supports the business rather than separating support into disparate parts.

Holistically managed architecture helps eliminate bugs and user frustrations from disparate systems across the environment. Instead of managing each system as its own network, holistically managed architecture is designed to interact as a single entity to ensure that users can perform daily tasks regardless of the underlying system users work with.

How Holistically Managed Architecture Works

Most enterprise environments have several moving parts, meaning the environment has several network segments, external cloud infrastructure, remote workstations and users, IoT, and various physical offices. All these elements must interconnect and work without issues, and holistically managed architecture takes all these components and integrates them so that it feels like a single environment to users.

Elements work together as a whole rather than force users to authenticate and work in different environments individually to get their job done. For example, users might have two applications—one hosted in the cloud and another one hosted on premises—to perform customer service activities. Both applications should work together and display the same data so that a customer service agent can perform their job function without the confusion of two disparate systems.

Holistically Managed Architecture: Framework vs. Methodology

Holistic management is a methodology, but frameworks are available to help administrators define individual processes and policies. An organization’s methodology could be turned into their own framework where administrators determine the steps and policies around the ways they maintain, upgrade, and install infrastructure.

The way a framework starts is with a design and often a complete change in the way administrators perform their daily job functions on infrastructure. Technology should cater its functionality to the needs of the business, so every methodology and framework will depend on the industry, compliance standards, and business requirements.

One of the most common enterprise frameworks often used in holistic approaches is The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF). TOGAF unites a broad range of infrastructure and methodologies to make one cohesive environment. It standardizes an organization’s use of tools so that all administrators use the same applications, terminology, configurations, and third-party products during integrations. Using a holistic approach to technology administration avoids complications when each administrator has their own tools and services that could be incompatible with another administrator’s.

Holistically Managed vs. Open Architecture: Differences

In a large enterprise or data center environment, it’s understood that physical infrastructure is located around the globe, so most environments fall into an open architecture. Most environments also take a layered approach where every location has disparate systems managed by administrators with different best practices.

In an open architecture environment, every location might have its own hardware, software, and management best practices. This approach might work until you need multiple locations to work as a single unit. When this happens, administrators might move toward a holistic approach and require a redesign of specific systems to standardize them.

Open architecture focuses on business architecture, data architecture, applications, and the hardware and software that supports infrastructure deployment. In many environments, open architecture uses open source software and administrators can choose their own tools to support the environment. With a holistic approach, administrators must use standardized tools, sometimes closed source, and they must install specific infrastructure standardized across multiple locations and data centers. Administrators are given a list of tools, and they often order hardware from specific vendors.

Holistically Managed vs. Zachman: Differences

TOGAF might be the most common framework for administrators to base their holistic approach to infrastructure management on, but another option is Zachman Enterprise Architecture. The Zachman approach was developed in the late 1980s and focuses mainly on the people involved in deploying and maintaining infrastructure. TOGAF defines processes, while Zachman gets stakeholder input before deploying infrastructure.

Instead of defining the way administrators deploy infrastructure, the Zachman approach is a matrix of people involved with deployment and a brief description of their perspective. Every stakeholder provides input on the infrastructure and defines what it needs to do to support the business’s productivity.

Benefits of Holistically Managed Architecture

A change in methodologies and framework needs to deliver benefits that help the stakeholders and business staff responsible for using the technology. Holistic management of business architecture has several benefits, including:

  • Unifying your technology, hardware, software, and administrative processes
  • Reducing complexity
  • Fewer bugs and user frustrations from incompatible applications and systems
  • Faster deployments since systems are standardized and already known to administrators
  • Improved data mobility across applications and infrastructure
  • Added infrastructure is faster to deploy with fewer potential bugs since it’s standardized across the entire environment

Disadvantages of Holistically Managed Architecture

Any major changes to the way administrators manage architecture will have some hurdles and potential unforeseen pitfalls. Administrators must learn the new processes, and any standardized infrastructure has a learning curve if administrators are not already familiar with the way it works.

Users familiar with certain applications might need training too if they have to migrate to a new system. Changes to architecture might require money from the operations budget, so some organizations want to avoid the cost associated with merging infrastructure and training staff.

Changes to infrastructure might require downtime, and downtime affects user experience and potentially revenue. Some deployments can be done without affecting productivity, but they must be tested before they can be used in production. The process of deploying infrastructure can take months, so it adds overhead to already busy staff.

How to Implement Holistically Managed Architecture

Implementation of a holistically managed architecture requires a plan. A business environment has a physical and logical layer, so these two must interconnect seamlessly. The infrastructure, applications, and data support the mission-critical services a business provides to its customers. The design must bring these three components together in an agile and resilient way to ensure customer needs are met without downtime or disruption.

Before any infrastructure can be deployed, it must be tested. The test environment should mimic the production environment to avoid any mistakes. Don’t forget parameters and configurations should also be the same as the production environment. Data must be migrated to the new environment, which can take a while for large databases. Some businesses take a slow migration approach and keep the old and new environments running. Once users are trained on the new environment, the old one can be retired and cut after a specific date.

Simplify Holistically Managed Architecture with FlashStack

As you can see, building your own holistically managed architecture from the ground up is no small feat. Fortunately, Pure Storage and Cisco have partnered to deliver a holistically managed infrastructure that’s simplified and easy to use.

FlashStack® is an AI-based, software-defined hybrid cloud infrastructure integrating on-premises and multi-cloud landscapes. The entire stack is holistically managed—sharing a common, AI-based, management interface you can use to monitor, control, and provision each layer from a single pane of glass. Discretely scalable and available as a service, FlashStack frees up your time so that you can focus on staying ahead of business demands and innovation.


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