While this is something we're all working on refining, here are some of my random thoughts:
I think all infrastructure architectures should be documented and categorized for quarterly peer review. During this time all initiatives should be reviewed (not just the recent ones). Also, the reviewers should not be the same people who designed the architecture. That represents a conflict in interest.
What is the Alignment to Business Objectives of your Infrastructure Architecture?
1) Reducing Costs
The Infrastructure architecture inherently decreases overall (operational and purchasing) costs above what the application architecture establishes. Since operational costs often greatly exceed the initial cost of purchasing a solution (and is known for incrementally increasing year to year after implementation), the architecture should be measured on it’s ability to keep operational cost as low and stable as possible.
2) Reducing Complexity
The Infrastructure architecture should strive to either not increase or reduce the operational complexity of their data center, application, process, or management environment. Easy to say, hard to do. Too many IT architects love complexity. If they can attach another duplicated service or mechanism in the architecture because “I know how to do it better”, then this is often viewed as advanced IP generation in the organization. This is too bad. I believe this NIH (not invented here disease) is often 80% wasted activity and contributes to 80% of a company’s complexity pain.
3) Reducing Time to Market constraints
Does the Infrastructure architecture increase a business’s capability to deliver solutions more quickly to market? This is critical to an organization’s ability to compete effectively in the future.
Too many times, complex architecture designs create additional technical, process and institutional constraints which artificially generate barriers to business momentum of company competitive initiatives. All Architectures should be reviewed carefully for their ability to reduce these artificial barriers.
4) Increase Operational Productivity
Often, this is often overlooked by most architectures. Does the architecture increase or decrease the amount of work needed to complete an employee’s , business unit’s, or system’s responsibilities?
5) Increase Revenue
The Infrastructure architecture design inherently increases revenue generation to the organization above what the initial application architecture design would bring.
6) Continuously deliver Effective Systemic Quality Performance at an effective acquisition and operational cost
From architectural design, configuration, skill development, process adjustment to operational overhead, the systemic quality patterns, strategies and design should maximize performance for (or at least exceed) the stated non-functional requirements of the business solution. Of course, in order to make the most of a company’s budget, the systemic quality architectural design should closely match the business value of the solution (nothing more and nothing less). If the corporate e-newsletter portal reports six nines availability and scales 100 times the number of employees while the accounts receivable system is operating at two nines availability and scales quite poorly, then there has been a poor allocation of resources and architecture design mistakes.