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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Enterprise Architecture is the science of anatomy and physiology of an Enterprise

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How do we describe a system, any system? Let me give an well known example, the human body and illustrate the way it is described, by comparison. 

The description of the structure and operation of the Enterprise is done here by analogy with the anatomy and physiology of the body. The structure is dealt with by anatomy while the operation by physiology.

Anatomy illustrates the body by depicting its systems in separation (circulatory, nervous, skeletal, muscular systems...) and parts (the head, torso, neck, limbs and organs like lungs, heart, liver..).  Each of these parts implements body functions. 

Physiology describes how the vital functions such as breathing, sensory processes etc operate over these various systems and parts. The digestive process, for instance, depicts the food ingestion, distribution and transformation into energy from mouth to stomach and beyond. The respiratory process shows how the body processes and transports oxygen to organs.


·         A body part (organ) implements a few body processes; for an Enterprise Architecture, the term "Function" plays the same role, grouping related business processes 

·         A body system, such as the muscular, nervous, circulatory system etc depicts the assembly of all parts of a body with similar functionality. In the EA Framework it is a Layer.

·         The organs or body parts, are interconnected by nerves, arteries... In the EA, the interconnections between business functions are Lines that are implemented by network connections etc

·         A specific aspect of a body (circulatory or nervous system)  is also described in the EA as a  "View" , representing a cross-section in the Enterprise, looking sometimes like a virtual cut or a  CT (computer tomography) body scan picture  

·         A vital process is a sequence of activities performed in organs;   in the EA framework, a "Flow"  is defined as a sequence of processes (in Functions) delivering a service.

A body interacts with the environment i.e. eats , breathes, feels.... In the Enterprise, Use Case scenarios describe the interaction with the environment and stakeholders.

A doctor, a surgeon cannot diagnose or operate without being familiar with all the body parts, systems and vital processes. Similarly, an Enterprise Architect cannot operate without knowledge of business Functions, Layers, Views and business Flows. Even more, doctors specialize in one of these systems like in the Enterprise, the domain architects do.

The whole EA framework FFLV-GODS described in my book and site is based on this analogy. 

Without anatomy and physiology medicine could not progress. We are at a stage now where we able to roughly describe what happens in a human body. But to fine tune a body, cure incurable  deceases there is much more to understand about the human body and its processes. We are at the beginning of the journey to understand, fix and improve the Enterprise. But we need first to understand its anatomy and physiology.

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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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