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Difference Architectures

MSDN has a nice writeup on Difference Architectures
 
The problem which Difference architectures try to address:
 
"Complexity is the pain of architecture documentation. If the documentation is too complex, it will never be used. If the documentation is too
high-level, it’s useless. Documentation that is never read is worse than useless: It’s something of value that not only missed its mark, but in fact might forever alter the perception of the quality of the solution. …"
 
The solution:
"
  1. Introduce the concept of the reference architecture (RA) that was selected.
  2. Leverage an RA that exists as the anchor for the technology solution that you will be building. Begin your architecture with a preface that contains the description of the RA that is used.
  3. Include links to the relevant sections of the RA in a links section. We will need pointers to the following selections (this is a short list; there are many more):
  4. Directory Services
    • Remote Network Login Services
    • Security Architecture
    • Data Center Layout
    • Exchange Design
  5. Include links to a Web site with all relevant architectural drawings. Make the upgrade easy; include all diagrams in that location, so that they are easily found. Think of your architecture as a road map to both the RA and the solution that is provided. That way, upgrades and future installers/troubleshooters can easily find the information that they need.
  6. Document any "use" requirements for the RA. For example, WSSRA has a series of downloads that you need for referencing the RA.
  7. Document any other requirements for the RA:
    • Training.
    • Tell audience how to find the printed version.
    • Network share with any required documents or Microsoft Visio drawings.
    • Web site with the architecture and components.
  8. Document any areas in the reference architecture that are not relevant to the solution. For example, the reference architecture, being a massive undertaking, might not be iterated as quickly as technologies might be iterated. Or your solution relies on a firewall different from the reference architecture. This is the difference architecture, as it shows the variance in the solution from the reference architecture.
    • Note out-of-date products.
    • Note variances (XYZ).
    • Note additions.
    • Include space for future revisions. Ensure that what is documented is what has been deployed.
  9. "

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