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Architecting Estonia:A System Architecture Perspective on Digital Government
Andres KttInformation System Authority, architect
2. Some thoughts on system architecture
3. Architecture of a country
4. Application of the model in Estonian case
How to architect a country?
And not mess up doing it
There are many architects in public sector but few (if any) with asimilar scope
No literature to go back to Enterprise architecture does not help much
Although Estonia is comparable to a large enterprise Regardless of what they say, EA is usually focused on informationsystems, rather than the enterprise per se
Value generation in public sector is much different No real way to tie in legal structures important in public setting
That one cant influence something does notmean one does not need to understand it
While I cant change Estonian constitution or organisational structure, I need tounderstand it so the things I can change fit
Some thoughts on systemarchitecture
System architecture context
Gave rise toCybernetics
Tackles similar problems to
Provides foundations for
Dynamic Project Management
Provides foundations for
Provides foundations for
Systems thinking is thinking about aquestion, circumstance, or problem
explicitly as a system
System is a set of interrelated entities whose functionality is greater than thesum of the individual entities. Crawley et al 2015.
Architecture is an abstract depiction of theentities of a system and the relationships
between those entities
A man-made system can also be seen as a set of decisions
Main aspects of a system
Function is what the system does
Form is what the system is
Concept is how to think of the system
Concept maps a set of functions to acorresponding set of form elements Function
Form drives cost, function drives value.The difference determinesmaximum possible profit
You cant make more than this, but you can certainly make less. In publicsector, we are interested in ratio - bang per buck - rather than difference
The concept is the part that makes the silverbullet so elusive
Brooks 1995. Form and function we have robust mechanisms to deal with,but not concept
Form, concept and function are a logicalentity. Change in one drives change in other
Change the culture sufficiently and the office layout changes
Architecture of a country
What if we applied systems thinkingto a country?
Lets think of Estonia as a system and see what happens
Concept of a country
How to think about a country?
Many equally feasible approaches It is a way to organise us living together It is a hostile entity that is not to be trusted It is a conduct of Gods will
The domain of legal and philosophical thinkers
Embodied, to an extent, in constitution
Thus very hard (if at all possible) to influence
Has a massive influence on acceptable ways the functions of astate can be executed
Function of a country
What does a country do anyway?
Function of a system is emergent by definition Remember the greater than the sum of its parts thing Not all emergence can be predicted Not all emergence is desirable
Function is fundamentally driven by whoever has the highest powerin the current setting
The people, in Estonian case Partly captured in legislation
There are many ways to think of the function Business process analysis, use case analysis etc.
Form of a country
What is a country?
Three main categories of form Peopleware
How are the people embodying the country organised? Administrative setup, business processes Organisational entities and their roles
Software The obvious bureaucracy automation But also e-mail servers, sensor networks etc.
Hardware The physical artefacts supporting the first two Cold rooms, cables and servers But also physical office buildings and their layout
Architectural model of a country
The model explained
Simply the elements seen previously stacked in order of abstraction Each layer can be seen as a system in itself
Apply the same principles recursively The model can be seen as a stack of different architectures Methods for structuring each layer differ, of course
Main idea: A holistic model of a country allowing to explore complexrelationships spanning disciplines
Application of the model
The data embassies
Digital continuity is important for a digital-heavy country Estonia is too small to physically host two server rooms providingadequate risk mitigation
Recommended distance is about 250 km Which, while geographically possible, is not sensible in Estonia
What if we hosted some services abroad? Rent server rooms from friendly countries Or use Estonian embassies
Both running the services and maintaining contingency backupscan be considered
This is a problem of the Hardware layer
Applying the model
Software: Is the software built to survive loss of access to otherservices?
Peopleware: How can responsibility for data be executed acrossborders and physical distance?
Functions: Does the function make sense in isolation (peopleregistry without document registry)?
Constitution: To what extent can a country exist in exile?
Common EA frameworks are lacking
Usually, the concept part is especially difficult to reflect.All models are wrong, some models are useful
Using systems thinking, a more useful modelcan be derived
There are probably other models but this one is abstract enough to cover a lotof ground
The model is useful in dissecting a problemlooking trivial in common EA context
A lot of cloud-oriented problems are very similar in nature. Cloud, as a technicalconstruct, has profound implications for organisations.
Thank you!Andres Kttandres.email@example.com
Some thoughts on system architectureArchitecture of a countryApplication of the modelConclusion