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To read Part I of this article, click here.

Planning a collaborative architecture

The figure below illustrates the business process and the ways that collaboration technology can accelerate it. The top layer depicts the business architecture, which connects people who access, use and transform information in accordance with a process that is aimed at achieving a business result. Collaboration is of paramount importance when it comes to optimizing the business process.

Figure 3: Collaborative Architecture (click here to enlarge image)

The three lower layers represent the technology architecture. This is where EAs model the business process and break it down into self-contained steps that ideally map to modular, reusable services. Within the enterprise applications layer, the composite applications illustrated here draw services from traditional applications, as well as using communications and collaboration services and network-based services to present the optimal tool to users.

Network-based services are vitally important when enabling a collaboration architecture that can mash up enterprise applications and collaborative elements with business-critical determinism. Resource allocation and policy are vital to support emerging collaboration models.

It is important to understand that while reusable network services can greatly enrich composite applications, they cannot compromise network availability or manageability. Rather, they can and should result in an overall network infrastructure that is easier to manage and able to fix itself whenever possible. Many of these services are easier to scale, manage and reuse when they reside in the network. All of these functions merge into a homogenous intelligent network cloud that ensures functionality transparently end to end.

Not only are these composite applications helping to bring down the walls between collaboration, application and data silos, but they also are beginning to blur the boundaries between the traditional organizational silos in IT. EAs, application developers and networking professionals must work together to best support the business process and innovate with collaboration.


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