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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Enterprise Architecture and classical visualisation techniques

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In this post, I will show how architecture visualisation methods used by architects for centuries (see Drew Skau's post  Visualization Architect at Visual.ly) are relevant to an EA. I'll exemplify the procedures on the  FFLV-GODS, a full EA framework.

 - Quote from visual.ly

"...drawing techniques, developed very early in the history of architecture, were so successful at communicating and recording the ideas, processes, and concepts that go into a building that they are still used widely today.

... Even the advent of digital 3D modeling has not changed the necessity of having a basic set 

Detail Sections show cuts through a portion of a building in order to describe the construction technique and material use. 

Site Plans
In addition to the building itself, it is important for architects to provide context for a building.  

- End quote

Typically, an architecture describes an entity by using visualisation techniques which have been used as well to describe the anatomy of human body.

The problem though with our EA frameworks is that they don't show the enterprise as a single entity as it is usual the case for classical architecture, but mostly as a list of separate views, selected rather at random, that do not link to each other or fit into a whole simply because there is no whole. It's like trying to reconstruct a body from a few partial remains or plans.

To sum it up, classical architecture (and FFLV) first shows the whole then the views which look like cuts into the whole. The current EA frameworks illustrate the views with no whole at all. How do even know that the views are part of or what part they cover from the EA whole?

The FFLV framework though is build as a cube (details on the  web site or kindle book).  Hence, the FFLV cube can be dissected using the classical architecture methods: plans, sections, details... as described above.

Assuming that EA is a single body has also the advantage that we make sure that all possible and potential aspects of an enterprise are implicitly part of the EA body even if they are not described yet. As such the EA framework is Open for the addition of any other architectural view.

We can cut the EA cube horizontally to obtain "plan drawings", vertically to get "section drawings", delve and zoom in to produce "detail drawings" or  look at the enterprise context to describe the "site plans".

The three horizontal layers of the FFLV are the business, technology and people (see picture). Every layer can be cut (or CT scanned) by many views.

We can cut horizontally through

* the Business layer to see various functions and flows (workflows) and the information they use. For instance we can see in a view or plane only the Create Demand flows. Or we can see all the ERP functions and connections.

* the Technology layer to describe or get to all the technology views we need to observe, such as servers, networks, applications, productions bands.... The applications views would have the elements mapped on the elements in the servers view.

* the People to see organization charts, roles, salary, recruitment views.

People and technology views would show how business functions and flows are executed.

All these views/cuts can be seen as transparencies that overlayed would give the whole. The resulting whole would eventually look unreadable, since there is too much detail. That is why we need the separation on views.

We can manage complexity as well by managing aspects in isolation. Experts can analyse views separately and then put them back into the whole.

We can cut the EA Vertically to show

* a specific Function or a Flow along with all its resources, the people and technology that execute it. For instance we can see the make of a product Flow from end to finish.

We can cut partially both vertically and horizontally to inspect a Detail plan of a certain EA aspect as well.

English: GODS FFLV EA Framework cube represent...

English: GODS FFLV EA Framework cube representation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The FFLV cube representation may become the EA navigation User Interface. In the picture you can see the Views as transparencies cutting the cube horizontally.

Ultimately any aspect, such as Function, Flows... of the architecture, can be seen as a View.

The Functions, Flows and Layers Views (FFLV) would represent entry points into the EA navigation framework.

You may pick a Flow or a Function view to navigate for instance:

  • up and down (through layers business, technology, people) a Function, to inspect the resources executing a business process 
  • horizontally, to follow outputs/interconnections and inspect an end to end Flow

    FFLV Framework Navigation Screen

    This is the FFLV Framework Navigation Screen

    For navigation one needs to select the architecture stage, current,... target,  from the menu.

    Then select the Function, Flow, Layer Views from the Drop-Down Menu or click directly on a Function, Flow or Layer View on the cube representation.

    One can select one of the Governance, Operations, Development and Support (GODS) top level Functions of the enterprise to narrow down to a specific sub-function.

    Navigation can also be performed with Up/Down, Back and Home buttons; you may also select a different level of business function detail or granularity (zoom in/out).

    One can see top level Views such as Location, Security that would filter only the spects of interest such as location or security.

    In the picture we have selected the organisation chart of the Layer People. The chart would appear on the next screen.

    Here are a few descriptions of the FFLV-GODS EA framework 1, 2, 3.

    The FFLV-GODS framework was used and implemented in practice. It comes with a transformation process, of the shelves models (templates), recommended design techniques/diagrams and metamodel indeed.

    The book also describes a strategy design framework and many other techniques, such as patterns, maturity evaluation, SOA design etc

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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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