There are some valuable resources for infrastructure architects that I wanted to highlight for you. I’m referring to the Windows Server System Reference Architecture (WSSRA) and the Branch Office Infrastructure Solution. Many have probably looked at these materials, realized there is some good stuff there, but were overwhelmed by the sheer volume. I wanted to point out some of the key content as well as describe how I use the material on my projects at customers.

First, what is it?

“The reference architecture enables best practice-based design of an IT infrastructure, which drives standardization across the platform by applying sound architectural principles around security, manageability and other factors to ensure a consistent approach to the definition of IT services.”

“The Branch Office Infrastructure Solution (BOIS) guide presents design information to facilitate the definition and deployment of an efficient branch office infrastructure solution that provides a comprehensive set of core IT infrastructure services based on Microsoft® Windows Server™ 2003 Release 2 (R2).”

Second, where do I find it?

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/itsolutions/wssra/raguide/default.mspx

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/itsolutions/branch/default.mspx

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/itsolutions/wssra/ve/default.mspx

Third, what is included?

These offerings include detailed and tested guidance for the design, build, and operation of a complete IT infrastructure.  In addition to detailed documentation, there are job aids and templates for each phase of implementation such as project plans, bills of material, configuration matrices, sample build scripts, etc.

Fourth, what makes it valuable?

They take a service oriented approach to infrastructure by defining and optimizing infrastructure services such as Directory, Messaging, and Data services. The team updates them with best practices learned from large deployment projects. Since they cover the entire lifecycle from design through deployment and operations, wherever you are in your lifecycle you can find useful assets for your projects.

Fifth, how do you leverage them?

Working for Microsoft Consulting Services, the projects I focus on are large infrastructure implementations. On my current project at a federal agency, they are looking to modernize their infrastructure concurrent with a move to a new facility. They want an architecture and pilot implementation. In order to help meet their aggressive schedule, our team is leveraging the assets of the WSSRA in several ways:

  1. Leveraging the content and design guidance from the documentation for our deliverables.
  2. Customizing the existing build scripts instead of starting from scratch.
  3. Adopting and then customizing the operations guides rather than starting from scratch.

Finally, and most importantly, there is a version of the WSSRA design for lab and test environments called WSSRA-VE which is an implementation of the architecture on virtual machines. This dramatically cuts down the amount of hardware required to pilot the architecture.

By leveraging these materials we spend less time reinventing the wheel and creating documentation “boilerplate”. We are able to reduce our time to implement while providing a well designed, built, and managed infrastructure. I encourage you to take a look, I'm sure you'll find content of value to you.