Synergistic Solutions IN=>ACTS (TM) Framework

The IN=>ACTS framework is a simple, consistent, multi-layered and comprehensive framework which helps identify, quantify, architect, design, organize and manage computer based information resources. The IN=>ACTS framework establishes a common reference to focus individuals, significantly reduce confusion and help decision makers make more informed decisions regarding the use and deployment of Information Processing technologies. The IN=>ACTS Framework provides an approach to map the business objectives of an organization along with the information resource assets required to attain those objectives.

Framework IN=>ACTS is based on the concept that Information/Data Processing resources are composed of five major assets or domains. IN=>ACTS is a symbol or acronym to easily recall the ideas and concepts in the following statement:

AN INFORMATION/DATA PROCESSING RESOURCE IS COMPOSED OF AN INFORMATION (IN) ASSET/DOMAIN WHICH IS CREATED BY THE SYNERGISTIC UNION (=>) OF THE APPLICATION (A), COMPUTATION (C), TRANSPORT (T) and SUPPORT/SERVICEABILITY (S) ASSETS/DOMAINS TO FACILITATE THE ATTAINMENT OF BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

The IN=>ACTS framework is a conceptual tool to assist individuals to identify, quantify, architect, design, organize and manage computer based information resources. It is a context to identify and address issues and opportunities associated with the development, use and application of information/data processing resources and technologies.

The IN=>ACTS framework is not intended to present a precise, exact, well defined boundary between its five elements, but rather to establish an interrelated, spectral continuum with one asset/domain having an interface or effect on one or more of the other assets/domains. As such, a single information resource element may be applicable to more than one of the asset/domains composing the IN=>ACTS framework.

IN=>ACTS is a layered framework which can also be used to help define itself. For example, when one wants to identify the SUPPORT/SERVICEABILITY assets of an overall INFORMATION resource, one could apply the IN=>ACTS framework within the context of the SUPPORT/SERVICEABILITY domain to help identify the specific components comprising the SUPPORT/SERVICEABILITY asset.

Click on one of the items below for additional explanation of the components of each of the five IN=>ACTS assets/domains. Each section will explain the FOCUS, STRATEGIC ISSUES, HARDWARE COMPONENT and SOFTWARE COMPONENT associated with the IN=>ACTS framework.

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IN formation Asset of IN=>ACTS (TM) Framework

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

FOCUS (IN)

The INFORMATION asset/domain is composed of the elements required to store and retrieve DATA to facilitate a BUSINESS PROCESS. Please note that one is concerned only about DATA in regards to this domain and not INFORMATION. The IN=>ACTS concepts imply a distinction between DATA and INFORMATION. The distinction is that INFORMATION is derived from DATA and the Information/Data processing resource is meant to provide that value added service.

The major focus of this domain is to identify and understand the BUSINESS PROCESS to be automated by identifying the TYPES of information (i.e., voice/data/image/sensory) required, in what FORM (i.e., electronic, sonic, hard-media, sensor, etc.), by what AREAS of the organization in what TIME frames. (NOTE: The term SENSORY is used to denote all other non traditional forms of information, such as, touch, smell, taste, non hardcopy oriented electro/mechanical, etc.).

It is within this domain that one needs to apply information engineering technologies (i.e., Arthur Young, Yourdon, DeMarco data flow concepts, etc.) to identify and quantify information FLOWS needed to attain the DEFINED BUSINESS OBJECTIVE.

It is within the INFORMATION asset/domain that the initial union between the BUSINESS OBJECTIVES and the INFORMATION RESOURCE are made. Therefore, it is imperative that a common business objective be declared and understood prior to defining the INFORMATION asset/domain.

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

STRATEGIC ISSUES (IN) Below is a sample set of questions and topics which should be addressed and/or reviewed when working within the INFORMATION asset/domain:

  • What is the PROCESS(es) requiring automation?
  • What type of information is strategic to the operation of the business?
  • What type of database structure (i.e., flat, hierarchical, relational, etc.) is required where?
  • Should the data be centralized or distributed?
  • Who has need to use what data when?
  • Who should have what information when?
  • How long should information be kept on-line? Archived?
  • How many different types and forms of data are needed?
  • What are access/security requirements?
  • What information needs to be created by combining data elements?
  • What is the cost to obtain or develop the needed information or data element?
  • How often will certain information be requested? Who will be requesting it?
  • What form (hard/soft) is required by what type (voice/data/image/sensory) of information?
  • How can the current information asset be converted to produce monetary assets?
  • What minimal amount of data is required to insure attaining the business objectives?
  • To what degree will interactive information be allowed, encouraged and required?
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

HARDWARE/SOFTWARE COMPONENTS (IN) The following are examples of the software and hardware elements/components of the INFORMATION asset/domain:

Software: Hardware:
[] Database packages [] Disk drives and controllers (Optical and magnetic)
[] Backup and Retrieval [] Tape drives and controller
[] Archival software [] Physical media storage space
[] Data Compression/Expansion [] Retention media (i.e., magnetic tapes, hard, floppy magnetic and optical disks, paper, film, microfiche)
[] File Server software [] Voice Storage units
[] Encryption/Decryption [] Encryption/Decryption devices
  [] Database Engines
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

A pplication Asset of IN=>ACTS (TM) Framework

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

FOCUS (A) The APPLICATION asset/domain is concerned with those elements which provide INFORMATION/DATA TRANSFORMATION. That is, those elements which convert, combine and/or create DATA from one type or form to another type or form to provide an INFORMATIONAL ASSET. The TYPE of data refers to the GENERIC KIND of data needed. The FORM of data refers to HOW the data is PRESENTED.

Understanding the best method to CONVEY, CAPTURE and COMMUNICATE information are the key focus of the APPLICATION asset/domain. Applying the concepts and models of Human Engineering, intuitive systems and ergonomics is useful when working in this domain. In addition, one needs to not only be concerned about the types of data elements to use and combine (i.e., voice, data, image, sensory) but also the form (i.e., electronic, hardcopy, soft, etc).

In most cases the raw data elements which are captured can not be used to generate the informational elements to assist in the decision making processes. As such, one needs to apply analytical tools to the given data in order to generate new data elements to address the informational needs of the organization. Another key focus of the APPLICATION asset/domain is to determine the application software mix and integration to ensure that the appropriate analytical tools are available to support the information and business requirements.

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

STRATEGIC ISSUES (A)

Below is a sample set of questions and topics which should be addressed and/or reviewed when working within the APPLICATION asset/domain:

  • What existing application assets need to be integrated with what other application assets to generate/create the needed information?
  • How many different forms of information are required?
  • What is the best form to present the information?
  • What is the best form to transport the information?
  • Is the current form of the information properly conveying the intent?
  • Where should the information transform be performed? Centrally? Distributed?
  • How does one best capture the needed data?
  • How quickly does the information have to be generated? Converted?
  • Who is the intended recipient of the information?
  • Where are the data elements available to generate the needed information?
  • What is the minimal number of types and forms of data required to attain the business objective?
  • What are the preferred forms of data used by the organizations?
  • Will the recipients of the information be permitted or required to create additional data and information ?
  • Will changing the type or form of the data being obtained/captured reduce the need for analytical tools?
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

HARDWARE/SOFTWARE COMPONENTS (A) The following are examples of the software and hardware elements/components of the APPLICATION asset/domain:

Software: Hardware:
[] Spreadsheet software [] CRT Terminals
[] Text Editor [] Printers
[] Image processing software [] Plotters
[] Computer Aided Design [] Telephone Sets
[] Presentation graphics software [] Light Pen
[] Report generators [] Mouse
[] Payroll/Accounting [] Scanner
[] Statistical Process Control [] Specialized Workstations
[] Project management software [] Digitizers
[] Windows [] Easels, Chalk boards
  [] Tape Records
  [] Keyboards
  [] Cameras, projectors
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

C omputation Asset of IN=>ACTS (TM) Framework

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

FOCUS (C) The COMPUTATIONAL asset/domain focuses on the basic RAW COMPUTING RESOURCES required to sustain the other four INFORMATION asset/domain requirements.

Providing the necessary computational THROUGHPUT to facilitate the storage and retrieval of data elements, analysis and synthesis of data elements to create information, transportation, serviceability, support and conveyance of information is the focus of the COMPUTATIONAL asset/domain. It is within this asset/domain that the application of system engineering and design concepts and an understanding of the base Information processing technologies (i.e., Operating Systems, CPU architectures, compilers, computer languages, etc.) can best be applied.

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

STRATEGIC ISSUES (C)

Below is a sample set of questions and topics which should be addressed and/or reviewed when working within the COMPUTATIONAL asset/domain:

  • What mix of Operating System(s) is appropriate?
  • What application development languages are appropriate?
  • Where is processing power required?
  • Is a centralized or distributed approach best?
  • What kind and types of specialized engines make sense to use?
  • What is the volatile memory requirements?
  • Should end users be able to interact at the Operating System level or should a delivery system be used as a buffer?
  • Where are multiple processor and multi- processing needed?
  • What is the overall system architecture? (I.e., storage, memory, processors, networking)
  • What processor technologies are appropriate?
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

HARDWARE/SOFTWARE COMPONENTS (C)

The following are examples of the software and hardware elements/components of the COMPUTATIONAL asset/domain:

Software: Hardware:
[] Operating Systems (OS) software (i.e., UNIX, MVS, VMS, DOS, NT, etc.) [] Central Processing Unit(s)
[] Cross compilers [] Volatile Memory (i.e.,DRAM, ROM, core)
[] Language compilers [] Terminal controllers
[] Run time libraries [] Arithmetic Unit
[] Service delivery systems [] PBX
[] Memory Resident Utilities/TSRs [] "Clustering" hardware
[] System Libraries [] Co-Processors
  [] Specialized Engines (i.e.,graphics processor, switching matrix, compiler engine)
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

T ransport Asset of IN=>ACTS (TM) Framework

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

FOCUS (T) The TRANSPORT asset is composed of those elements involved in INFORMATION MOVEMENT and TRANSPORT.

The focus of this asset/domain is on the MOVEMENT of INFORMATION. That is getting information and data from point A to point B. Therefore, defining the assets required for this domain are highly dependant on the previously defined requirements of the information asset/domain and application asset/domain. It is within the context of this domain that NETWORKING architectures, protocols and models are examined to determine their applicability.

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

STRATEGIC ISSUES (T)

Below is a sample set of questions and topics which should be addressed and/or reviewed when working within the TRANSPORT asset/domain:

  • What is the rate of information movement?
  • How much information needs to be moved within what time frames?
  • Is the movement bursty or continuous?
  • What sort of networking approach is best (dial up, point to point, leased lines, Local Area Network, Multiplexor, etc.)?
  • Where best to apply each of the following interconnect technologies:
  • [] SNA [] DECnet [] Packet [] TCP/IP
  • [] LU 6.2 [] Ethernet [] Token Ring [] ISDN
  • What is an appropriate transport media, magnetic, microwave, satellite, infa-red, coax, twisted pairs, etc. ?
  • What are the networking technologies used by the external sources of information required to attain the business objective?
  • Is the need for information transport, short term or long term?
  • Is non-electronic transport appropriate?
  • What are the security requirements?
  • Who and how will this resource be managed?
  • Can the media support the required transmission bandwidth requirements?
  • What is the geographic distribution of resource users?
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

HARDWARE/SOFTWARE COMPONENTS (T) The following are examples of the software and hardware elements/components of the TRANSPORT asset/domain:

Software: Hardware:
[] Protocol conversion [] Packet Assembly/Disassembly
[] Encryption/Decryption [] Statistical multiplexors
[] Networking system software( i.e., Novell, 3 Com, Crosstalk, etc.) [] Modems
[] Extended Memory Drivers [] Satellites, Microwave
[] Monitoring software [] Terminal Servers
[] Usage Monitors [] Local Area Networking interface cards
[] Electronic Mail [] All types of cables and plugs
  [] Packet switches
  [] Gateways, bridges
  [] FAX Equipment
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

S upport Asset of IN=>ACTS (TM) Framework

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

FOCUS (S) The SUPPORT/SERVICEABILITY assets is composed of those elements which operate, maintain, train, implement, deploy, plan, etc. the other four INFORMATIONAL assets.

The support/serviceability asset/domain's major focus encompasses the entire information resource including the end user and operational communities. This is the PEOPLE oriented asset/domain and is primarily focused on identifying and quantifying the PROCESSES and COSTS associated with offering and supporting the Information/Data processing resource as defined by the other four asset/domains. Integration of the entire system within the enterprise is a major focus of this asset/domain.

FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

STRATEGIC ISSUES (S) Below is a sample set of questions and topics which should be addressed and/or reviewed when working within the SUPPORT/SERVICEABILITY asset/domain:

  • Who and how will the INFORMATION, APPLICATION , COMPUTATION and TRANSPORT assets/domains be managed and maintained?
  • What are the COSTS associated with providing the resource as specified?
  • What sort of training and documentation needs to be generated?
  • How will a new resource be integrated with existing resources?
  • How should the resource be grown? Reduced? Evolved?
  • Is there enough capacity?
  • What is the head count needed to maintain the resource?
  • What is the training process? For End Users? For Operations?
  • Are HELP facilities needed? On-line?
  • What are the backup and recovery processes?
  • How should the resource be tested? Verified? Determined that is functionally correct?
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

HARDWARE/SOFTWARE COMPONENTS (S) The following are examples of the software and hardware elements/components of the SUPPORT asset/domain:

Software: Hardware:
[] Database, application, operating system and network monitoring software [] Call switching/waiting equipment
[] Computer Based Training programs [] Network hardware monitors
[] Code and revision management systems [] Test equipment and stations
[] Problem and resolution tracking systems [] Protocol displayers and converts
[] Billing and usage tracking software [] Duplication equipment
[] Charts, graphics showing layout of resource  
[] Debugging software  
[] On-line help facilities  
[] Key capture software  
[] Test vector generators  
[] Operations manuals and standards  
[] Planning Tools  
[] Process disgraming tools  
[] Network Modeling Tools  
FOCUS STRATEGIC ISSUES HARDWARE/SOFTWARE IN=>ACTS Index

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