System architecture refers to the overall structure and design of a computer system or network. Essentially, it allows for coherent and organized connection of a wide range of physical devices, as well as the software that will be used to run those devices. System architecture covers four main areas, those being processing power, storage mechanisms, connectivity design, and user experience. It should be noted that good system architecture will have the flexibility to accomodate the need for additional software and hardware. Networks management is nothing more than a natural extension of systems architecture to the next hierarchical level.

A good course in system architecture will usually cover many of the following topics:

  • Computer technology
  • Data representation
  • Processor technology and architecture
  • Data storage technology
  • System integration and performance
  • Input/output technology
  • Data and network communication technology
  • Computer networks
  • Application development
  • Operating systems
  • File management systems
  • Internet and distributed application services
  • System administration

If you are interested in following developments in systems architecture, you should check out the Journal of Systems Architecture. There are also many good books on the subject, one of which is Systems Architecture, by Stephen Burd, which has the advantage of being a relatively inexpensive paperback.

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