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Enterprise Architecture – Part 1
Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a conceptual, structural and operational blueprint of an enterprise along with human and technology resources. It conveys the current and future state of an enterprise and its transformation roadmap in terms of process, information, technology and people. This helps organization address rapidly changing business environment and developments in technology.
Enterprise Architecture is about Enterprises (i.e. Organizations) and not about business or IT individually. Although, Information Technology handles the core of EA in the digital world, it is not the most dynamic part of architecture like business strategy, external economic factors etc. Enterprise Architecture addresses how enterprises operate and provide a shared understanding of each domain in an organization.
Broadly, Enterprise Architecture addresses the following domains:
- Environment – Essentially takes into account external factors like economics, politics and industry specific conditions like enterprise-wide initiatives supported or directed by the businesses.
- Business – Defines the processes and standards by which the business operates on a day-to-day basis by offering services to each other and to external entities.
- Information – Defines the business applications offering information services by interaction among the processes and standards used by the organization
- Data – Defines and classifies the business information and other valuable stored data (such as document files, databases, images, presentations, and spreadsheets) that the organization requires in order to efficiently operate.
- Technology – Defines the hardware, operating systems, networking solutions, and platform applications used by the organizations to offer services to each other and business applications.
To understand the business enterprise architecture and how to adopt it,
- Firstly, we need to know history of enterprise architecture and how it has evolved
- Secondly, what are the components of the enterprise architecture that help to address the emerging needs.
- Finally, which processes and tools are required along with people to achieve that.
Let’s take a look at ‘evolution of enterprise architecture’.
Evolution of Enterprise Architecture
Thirty years ago field of enterprise architecture was born with the publication in IBM Systems Journal of an article titled “A Framework for Information Systems Architecture,” by J.A. Zachman in 1987. His vision saw that business value and agility could best be realized by a holistic approach to systems architecture. It explicitly looked at all the important issues from every perspective to manage the complexities of increasingly distributed systems.
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With Zachman’s Framework, Information Technology starts working on layered architecture but the real momentum builds up with Clinger Cohen Act for information resources.
The major shift in Enterprise Architecture happens with TOGAF 8 where IT Architecture aligns more to business focused enterprise architecture to cater the needs of business, data and application layers. At the same time Gartner, Forrester and Cutter provide focus on Enterprise Architecture aligning more towards business transformation.
While enterprise architecture is becoming more business focused, Information Technology is moving towards Service-Oriented-Architecture (SOA) in order to address business flexibility and service orientation.
In order to address complexities and global nature of businesses, the enterprise architecture has evolved into ‘business enterprise architecture’. Similarly Information Technology is moving towards implementing micro-services, cloud based architecture to meet business requirements and offer on-demand capabilities such as Software as a Service (SaaS).
While technologies continue to evolve to support of businesses, the core of an enterprise is always to provide better products and services to customers.
For example, E-commerce business is always buying and selling goods and services by transmitting of funds or data, over an electronic network, primarily the Internet.
So, while the technologies and strategies of business keep on evolving the key question is, do we need to keep changing the enterprise architecture?
Stay tuned to discuss next, what are the components of the enterprise architecture that help to address the emerging needs.
Sameer Goswami | Big Data Consultant – Ashnik, India