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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Enterprise architecture looks like an MRI scan

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Architecture, in general, is about models and blueprints. Hence, enterprise architects have to devise models that describe the enterprise. 
Based on these models many people in the enterprise visualize, analyze and solve their own issues, in context. Because you cannot properly solve an issue without looking at the environment it takes place in.

A wide variety of specialist doctors diagnose and treat health problems, using pictures like x-rays in the process the same way business professionals analyze and solve enterprise problems, using the EA description of the enterprise produced by the architect.

The EA architect may be asked to assist the process, sometimes, just like the x-ray specialist, but the architect does not solve the problems of the enterprise. He is not qualified to do so. Moreover an EA architect working in IT is not tasked to solve enterprise wide issues.

X-raying simplifies matters though. EA is not just about snapping a picture. The EA "model" looks more like an MRI scan, a method to create an integrated set of views of a body, taken from different angles. The views depict virtual sections through the body. That is how the enterprise model, the EA, should look.

 Nevertheless, the scan methods and technology have been developed for a long time now and with plenty of effort. EA has not reached this stage yet. I describe in my blogs and book an analogy between EA and the anatomy and physiology of a body.

If you are not doing models, then you are not doing architecture. And then you should not call enterprise architecture (EA) what you do and you should not call yourself an EA architect. It does not mean though that your work isn't valuable or strategic. 

Anyway, who is going to model or describe the "anatomy" of the enterprise if not the EA architect?

In practice, many assume that EA is about strategy, policies... in fact anything but architecture.
Other EA efforts come with  a few pictures of the EA that, in fact, have always existed in the enterprise. They are not useful to the stakeholders with enterprise wide concerns because they are disjoint.

The diagrams are and have always been disconnected because of the lack of a proper integrating modeling framework to link the models together in the bigger enterprise wide picture. Without this framework, the various models designed in separation with different aims tools and conventions in mind remain isolated, rendering the end to end analysis of the enterprise and its problem resolution rather difficult.

It is true though that few can properly and consistently do EA since most current frameworks do not support modeling. They are anything but enterprise modeling frameworks. They mostly describe the process of development of the target EA. Hence, each and every EA architect has to re-invent at some expense own modeling methods with known results.

For instance, frameworks like Zachman, TOGAF... fail in practice because they are not meant to do modeling. 

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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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