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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Enterprise Architecture frameworks

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From time to time it is worth assessing the progress of Enterprise Architecture body of knowledge. Not much has happened in the past few years. 
It was said SOA is dead or at least the hype. With the EA the problem is no better. It is barely moving, that is its body of knowledge. No remarkable results have been published. Most use own frameworks because the EA frameworks are what they are. But EA has yet a lot to deliver since the concept is very promissing. 

Zachman covers a high level philosophy, socratic in that it asks various questions to define an entity. It is called sometimes an ontology or taxonomy. It is not practical, it does not take us too far. After asking the first few questions, the road ahead is too open to interpretation. There is no more guidance. It is appealing in its simplicity to top management as it enables an executive's analytical approach. But, at the next level of depth, another framework is required. 

TOGAF covers extensively the process and its deliveries, ADM. Its technology standards chapter is said to be obsolete. TOGAF 9 adds a few hundred pages, some structure and Archimate, an architecture language which looks more like describing a metamodel. People are looking hard for examples because it is not clear how to use it. It introduces services and interfaces although most Enterprises, having evolved organically, cannot be described using the SOA service concept. And that does not help TOGAF. 

Neither of these frameworks is specific to the Enterprise, i.e. they can be applied to most technical systems. For instance Zachman thinking can be applied when you intend to have a house built. You asked the obvious questions including "how much" which is absent in Zachman, from difefrent perspectives: the owner, architect, builder... 

Zachman covers a high level taxonomy while TOGAF a process. In a sense they are complementary. None of them provides guidance for the structure of an Enterprise which is essential for an EA framework. 

As a result no two EAs outcomes are similar. Everybody pretends to know Zachman and TOGAF. It's easy to pretend to be an EA architect as Zachman's matrix is a straightforward one pager while few can verify that an answer is compliant or not with 800 pages of TOGAF. 

FEA and DODAF are more prescriptive but specific. And even so no two departments EA look or feel quite the same. 

EA frameworks should enforce repeatable or predictable results so that even if you build your EA in two different Enterprises in the same industry, they should still have the same fundamental structure and components. So you can compare apples with apples. 
Some have delivery checklists but architecture is about diagrams not lists. 
No framework offers reference designs (templates), not even for IT, except, maybe, for the old model-view-controller paradigm for software. 
As with SOA, the first step is to design the EA Business Architecture. It is not the business of IT, in the first place, but IT understands "architecture". 
The business schools, academia, management consultancies have not quite put together a business reference map to guide the architecture. What are the typical parts of an Enterprise? You would wonder why they don't need an EA in their work. 
There are a few tries though at process architectures. (APQC, VCG, SCOR, eTOM...). They do not help too much though. They are virtually unknown in the IT domain. They are used by business people for benchmarking and quality improvement. The Value Chain concept, the closest attempt to an architecture in the business world, looks foreign to the IT world. 
How can you build an Enterprise Architecture (essentially the Enterprise structure, operation and strategic planning) starting from technology, IT for that matter? 
Imagine an electricity utility company that has other technologies. How can the EA IT architecture describe what the Enterprise does? It can catalogue the IT landscape and document front-ends, back-ends etc. But there are networks of transformers, transmission lines, couplers, switches, meters, SCADA systems not part of IT. Not to mention the people operations. 
The natural expectations of business and management from the current EA i.e. to deliver the Enterprise blueprint, roadmap, transformation are far from being fulfilled then. The solution would be to limit the expectations to technology standardisation, reduced platform duplication and complexity and integration of the islands of IT. 

To succeed, in its full meaning of structure and operation of the Enterprise, the EA has to be started top down from the business architecture in scope (for instance for the Operation or Shared Services) and then the supporting technology architecture. But the division between business and IT does not help.

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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