Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


April 8, 2002

New documents provide map for IT architecture

Donna Price is communications coordinator for the Information Technology division.


To say the path to the February adoption of three information technology architecture documents (“Document 2: Designing Emory’s IT Architecture,” “Security Architecture Domain” and “Directory Services Domain”) by Emory’s Council on Information Resources and Technology (CIRT) was an easy task would be like saying that creating a dictionary is like playing a game of Scrabble.

Just ask Peter Day, emerging technology specialist in the Information Technology Division (ITD), whose technical editing expertise was called on for this massive and complex project for the better part of two years.

“It took three to four months of meetings to produce an initial draft, then eight to nine months to obtain and incorporate feedback and polish to a final draft,” Day said. “Then eight to 10 months of further vetting and delay before adoption.”

Total time: 16–22 months, and that was just for Document 2. The other two represent more than a year of work from initial draft to completion.

Emory’s IT systems are continually changing as they adapt to the requirements of teaching, research, public service and patient care, and as they are kept current with new and evolving technologies. The architecture documents provide infrastructure developers with information on how to shape their individual IT choices so that they function in concert with the long-term development of the overall Emory IT structure. The documents also are helpful for anyone interested in understanding how Emory’s IT principles support teaching, research and public service goals.

Document 2 provides general principles for an IT infrastructure that can respond in the needed time frame to support Emory’s mission, goals and priorities. The security and directory services architectures provide specific guidelines, based on Document 2 principles, for the technologies, standards, standard products and configurations needed for these domains.

The “Security Architecture Domain” includes the processes, data feeds and deployed hardware and software that serve to electronically protect, preserve and control access to Emory’s IT assets. The “Directory Services Domain” offers a Universitywide means to find information about Emory people, places and things, to which Emory has determined that authorized people or IT systems should have access from any location on the Emory network or the Internet.

A total of 39 individuals representing 17 different units contributed to the document creation process under the leadership of CIRT co-chairs Woody Hunter and Donald Harris, interim provost and vice provost for information technology, respectively, and members of CIRT and its IT architecture subcommittee.

As work progressed, drafts of the documents were provided at several points to the Emory community for feedback. Reconciling the security architecture principles with those in the other two documents generated the most discussion. The outcome of that discussion affirmed the value of making known the existence of information without impacting control of access to it.

“We seek to keep up with our competitors in higher education,” Day said. “New ideas clamor to be implemented; people continually add new IT systems and capabilities and work to make the IT systems interact. The purpose of the IT architecture is to provide a plan and principles for organizing the infrastructure so that it can respond to needed change in the required time frame—that is, fast enough. The benefit for everyone is an increase in responsiveness.”

For more information on CIRT visit To view and/or download the documents, visit Emory’s Enterprise Information Technology Architecture website: