UNICOM® Systems, Inc. releases System Architect® 2024

Major release features Customer Journey Maps and Value Streams of SAFe® 6.0, and bevy of usability innovations.

Mission Hills, CA, October 30, 2023 – UNICOM Systems, Inc., a division of UNICOM® Global, has announced commercial availability of System Architect® 2024, a new major release of its market-leading enterprise architecture and systems architecture tool. This release features support for Customer Journey Maps, which augment support for Value Streams and the Roadmap Marker diagram of recent releases to more fully support the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) 6.0. The release also has a bevy of usability advances for both System Architect the rich client product and SA XT, its thin web-browser sister product. Customer Journey Maps and Value Streams Customer Journey Maps and Value Streams have become essential tools that organizations use to prioritize their digital transformation efforts to help customers achieve their goals. Customer Journey Maps are a focus of Design Thinking – which is an essential practice of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) version 6.0, released in March 2023. Value Streams are part of the extended ‘portfolio’ and ‘full’ configurations of SAFe® 6.0, and are also a part of The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) 10, and the Unified Architecture Framework (UAF) 1.2 – the latest advancement of the US Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF 2).


“Understanding the customer journey – and pitfalls and bottlenecks they run into – speeds up digital transformation – as the organization can focus on service or product improvements to make the journey better,” said Lou Varveris, Director of Product Management at UNICOM Systems. “Design Thinking compels product teams to concentrate on understanding the customer experience and the problem to be solved, instead of introducing new features to a product that customers don’t necessarily need. Then Value Streams look at the other side – how the organization provides value to both customers and internal people like Sales and Marketing. Both techniques have been around forever in the mind of Product Managers, but now there is a formal practice to working this way. And System Architect is a wonderful tool to capture it in – so teams of people can remember it, examine it within the context of a data-driven enterprise architecture, communicate it, maintain it, and act upon it.” “And then as you execute change to products or services,” continued Mr. Varveris, “You can plot it in the Roadmap Marker diagram. So these features all come together to put strategic digital transformation at your fingertips.” System Architect 2024 also provides an Idea Hierarchy diagram, for the quick categorization of Ideas captured to make the Customer Journey better – using System Architect’s unique plug-and-play hierarchy building technology. All diagramming is available in both the System Architect rich client, and the SA XT web-browser client. “Easy Drawing” Innovations System Architect 2024 surfaces innovations to a theme of ‘easy drawing’ – some first established in the minor releases leading up to it. The ‘Magic Line’ allows easy drawing of a line between two symbols, with System Architect determining the line type based on the chosen Framework – eliminating the need for the end user to ‘figure it out’. System Architect provides a choice of what line type to draw if more than one can be. This feature is augmented by a “Help Me Pick a Line” wizard, to help users relate symbols in complex Framework metamodels. Advances in this release make it easier to draw instance relationships between instances of definitions – available in all frameworks but most notably used in DoDAF 2 and UAF 1.2. System Architect’s renowned auto-line-routing capability has also been enhanced. “In a data driven architecture, relationship lines will draw themselves based on information you have imported from sources of record,” said Mr. Varveris. “At the same time, architects often have to model architecture from scratch. And the ‘Magic Line’ is a game changer. There’s no need to figure out what line type to choose anymore – just use the ‘Magic Line’.” “That combined with the auto-routing makes System Architect an extremely easy tool to draw in,” added Mr. Varveris. “When at IBM I had product managers of other tools tell me their customers asked them to make the line drawing ‘just like System Architect’s auto-routing’. And now the drawing is significantly better than then.” “Easy Graphics” Innovations Another theme with advances coming to the fore in this release is ‘easy graphics’ – or ability for users to easily use their own graphics to visualize architecture elements. New advances in System Architect 2024 allow users to drag-and-drop an icon (svg, wmf, png, jpg, or bmp) from their desktop onto a diagram workspace, and then transform the symbol into a definition of the chosen Framework with a simple right-mouse-click. A new Picture Browser enables users to import images en masse into the Files table of the underlying Microsoft SQL Server database, and then easily browse thumbnails of those symbols for use on diagrams – again transforming them into definitions of the chosen framework. System Architect’s ‘Mona Lisa’ button has been improved so that users can flip symbols between their icon presentation, a rectangle, or icon as an annotation in the corner – with the name of the symbol automatically placed inside or outside the symbol. “The industry has had an explosion of expressive graphics that denote architecture elements – with vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google now offering architecture centers with example solution architectures, and libraries of svg and png images to model digital transformation concepts,” explained Mr. Varveris. “We’ve made it easy to utilize these icons. Being able to simply drag them into a diagram workspace and then transform them into a definition of the framework with a right-mouse click is very powerful.” UNICOM Systems is also re-distributing sets of icons for IBM Garage, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) on its customer portal, along with matching bitmaps for its Draw menu, for users wishing to use the icons in a governed approach. The performance on opening diagrams with large picture sets has been improved – with images added to the cache. System Architect also has a new, modern Color Picker technology in both its System Architect rich client and SA XT products – which rivals that available in pure graphics tools. Analytics and Reporting Advances Reports visualized by analytic icons on symbol edges in architecture diagrams have been enhanced with Analytic Icon Sets that allow better clearing of prior analytics run. And the Reporting Interface in SA XT web browser has been enhanced to allow Reports by Reference – a powerful SQL reporting feature that now matches the reporting interface in the rich client System Architect. The reports in SA XT can be surfaced in Personalized dashboards, which also have been improved in the minor releases leading up to System Architect 2024. “Show Me the Metamodel” Innovations to System Architect’s unique automatic Metamodel diagram allow users to get simpler views of the metamodel being deployed, and to find out what diagram a particular definition type can be drawn on. “Ability to customize the metamodel to match sources of record is one of the most important features of an enterprise architecture tool,” said Mr. Varveris. “The breadth and depth to which you can customize the metamodel -- and the ease of how you can do it -- has always been System Architect’s calling card. But then as the metamodel gets larger and more complex over time, a common user request is to ‘Show me the metamodel’. The unique Metamodel Diagram automatically gives users this insight.”

About System Architect System Architect is a long-time market leader in the Enterprise Architecture and Defense Architecture domains, utilized by customers to build data-driven views of their organization's strategy, capabilities, business architecture, operational architecture, data, application landscape, supporting systems, services, technologies, and infrastructure. Built-in reporting enables customers to gain insight and analytics necessary to describe current and future states of the enterprise along with interdependencies, risks, life cycles, and standards. SA XT is the web-browser thin-client sister product, offering many of the capabilities of rich client System Architect, and in addition providing reporting dashboards. System Architect is available from UNICOM’s TeamBLUE™ division. Formed from several key acquisitions, TeamBLUE brings a blend of world-class solutions and teams together with a common culture and history of customer success.

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