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An IAM "brick" describes the status of technical standards, protocols, service options, and other technologies used for identity and access management (IAM) within the IT environment at the University of Washington. To do so each brick focuses on a set of IAM technologies from the same functional area and uses the same set of designations to describe the lifecycle status of individual options coming into or exiting from the environment.


A standard template is used to create a brick for a specific IAM functional area. The template includes sections describing the IAM function, the current technology options and their lifecycle designations, as well as commentary and links to related bricks.

Tip: Click the image above to view a larger version. Or click the Browse menu and select Templates to view the current template.

Lifecycle Status Designations

The following table describes the designations used within a brick to categorize technology options according lifecycle status, related customer risk, investment levels, support, adoption, etc.

StatusCustomer Risk LevelInvestment LevelDescription
EmergingHighLimited investment
  • Trends to watch
  • Technologies to track or evaluate
  • Strategic alignment uncertain
  • Adoption uncertain
StrategicMediumStrategic investment
  • Future technologies
  • Adoption possible within 5 years
  • Technologies aligning with strategic needs
  • Technologies being evaluated for strategic fit
  • Technologies that may transform the business
TacticalMediumTactical investment
  • Limited support
  • Technologies being piloted
  • Adoption possible within 2 years
  • Some use in select pilot projects
  • Technologies that may enter baseline
BaselineLowOngoing investment
  • Full support
  • Current technologies
  • In widespread use today
  • Recommended for new implementations
  • Technologies that sustain and grow the business
ContainmentMediumReduced investment
  • Reduced support
  • No new development
  • New customer uses limited
  • Technologies that no longer meet business needs
  • Investments may be necessary to sustain
  • Minimal support
  • Scheduled for retirement
  • Technologies that have been deprecated
  • Investments may be necessary to decommission

Lifecycle Patterns

This section describes common lifecycle patterns for technologies coming into and exiting from the environment.

Full Lifecycle. Some technologies proceed through every status designation during their lifecycle (Figure 1).

Fast Track. Other technologies are evaluated for strategic fit and are recommended for baseline use (Figure 2).

Tactical Use Only. Some technologies are selected and supported for tactical reasons, but use is limited to contain cost, complexity, etc. (Figure 3).

Early Retirement. Some baseline technologies are deprecated and make an early exit from the environment (Figure 4). 

Hail Marys. Other technologies are selected without being evaluated for strategic fit, with mixed results (Figure 5).

Other examples abound. Most technologies follow the full lifecycle pattern or some subset of it.


One key goal of infrastructure like IAM is to provide building blocks that accomodate the diverse needs of business applications and shared services. Since these building blocks provide foundations for applications and other shared infrastructure services, they must be stable, proven, useful, and well understood. This requires good design but also clear, concise, and easy to understand communication.

The "brick" concept is a simple model used by other large, complex organizations for planning and communicating what standards, protocols, and other technical components will be adopted in their IT environments. The bricks model brings transparency to the decision-making processes by which community standards emerge, evolve, and are retired. It also clarifies what principles influence these decisions.

The bricks concept is being applied to IAM functions at the UW to help people, teams, and organizations determine effective ways to use our infrastructure to perform IAM functions, now and into the foreseeable future. The IAM bricks can be useful for designing solutions in a way that balances opportunities and risks, and for planning and budgeting uses in the future.


"What is a brick?", National Institute of Health (NIH), Retrieved March 13, 2013 

"TOGAF® Version 9.1", Section 41.4.3 "Standards Lifecycle", Retrieved March 13, 2013 

"ITIL Service Strategy 2011 Edition", Section 4.1 "Service portfolio management", p.186-192

"A Framework of Patterns, Services, Domains and Components Defines the Technology Viewpoint", Gartner, ID No. G00135179, Retrieved March 13, 2013

"Best Community Practice (BCP) Process", NIH, Retrieved March 13, 2013 

"Standards Development Process", NIH, Retrieved March 13, 2013 

IBM® Tivoli® Configuration and Change Management Database Version 7.2.1, "Lifecycle Terminology", Retrieved March 13, 2013

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1 Comment

  1. Tactical and Strategic are not lifecycle stages. They are labels which designate the intended fit for purpose of a given technology or solution. I'd lobby to remove both of these from the IAM lifecycle stages and instead use them as descriptors in a different way.

    I'd also lobby to add use of "Unsupported" as a lifecycle stage, which is in use by Microsoft Infrastructure, Managed Workstation, and Windows Managed Server. Unsupported differentiates between Emerging and Retired in that we are consciously aware of a given product/technology but are intentionally choosing to not support it.