Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 July 2010
Wireless network operators and end users need the ability to utilize equipment from different vendors in their networks and in customer-accessible devices. Left to themselves, vendors of network equipment and of end-user access devices such as wireless terminals tend to produce equipment that is slightly different in various ways, hindering the ability of their customers to build multi-vendor networks from interoperable equipment pieces. The key to ensuring interoperability is to have a standardized system design with clearly specified interfaces between the various network devices and well-designed, standardized protocols on the interfaces. The process of systematically identifying requirements and functionality and mapping that into network entities, interfaces, and standardized protocols is the key to ensuring a design that meets real-world needs and in which the pieces work together well. This requirement is generally true for network systems, but it also applies specifically to security systems.
While standardization is the key to ensuring interoperability in complex multi-vendor systems, system architectures are the principal tool for guiding the design, implementation, and deployment process. In this chapter, we examine the topic of network system architecture. In the next section, we discuss the role of architecture in system standardization in more detail. Following that, we describe a particular approach to developing a system architecture, the functional architectural approach, that is used in some wireless network standardization processes.