Enterprise Architecture (EA) as an alternative approach to solving the age old problems of IT, keeps coming back on the agenda for many medium to large enterprises. Many times, the Board and Corporate Leadership have heard of the term but do not know exactly what to expect, IT implements it in a limited way and the whole thing falls apart because of failure to meet expectations only to come back to the table at a later time. In this series, I will discuss how EA can be used effectively so that everybody gets on the same page.
How many times have you heard of large ERP projects being abandoned or re-birthed multiple times? Often these are blamed on mavericks who don’t last long. The result is millions of dollars wasted. The question now is, what agreed rules and guidelines can be used as a basis for decision making to avoid such wastage? Using EA techniques to define a set of IT Principles incorporating Architecture Principles governed by an IT and Business Leadership provides the answer. Zachman Framework’s “Why?” interrogative from the Planner’s perspective covers this Building Block of EA and Open Group’s TOGAF has an excellent technique for defining Principles in such a way that they don’t end up as motherhood statements or as “Shelf Ware”.
The custodian of these Principles should be the Architecture Review Board (ARB) made of IT and Business Leaders. TOGAF provides ample guidance on how to set up an ARB, define the processes, conduct compliance reviews etc. This will ensure that only those projects which are traceable to Business Goals and Objectives are ever approved. In many cases, it may be too late to roll back existing projects which can not be linked to Business Strategy but at least the non-compliance can be highlighted to the entire leadership of the enterprise and a conscious effort can be made to align them at a more appropriate time. Those Projects which are at their early stages can be acted upon immediately.
Do I have your attention now? Now you can start to see the benefits of EA apart from being just a “Design”.
I hear you say, "Yes, but we already have a set of Principles". How many of you can honestly say that your current principles are being used as part of Architecture / IT Governance? Are they there just for reference, to be "Cut and Past"ed in documents and then forgotten? When was the last time they were reviewed in light of new business strategies or drivers or technology? If you do not have a good answer to these questions, it is time for a review.
Of Course, defining and institutionalizing Principles is not a trivial task. You need to consider Business Goals and Objectives, Specific Stakeholder concerns, your Business Operating Model, Business and Technology Drivers etc.,You also need to socialize the principles with the Leadership team and get consensus etc.,. Getting professional help is strongly recommended.
As the year comes to a close, I would like to share some of my experiences across the globe with you on what sort of initiatives are being undertaken in the world of Enterprise Architecture.
This is very popular with IT Service provider companies which are steadily skilling up and positioning themselves for bidding for large programs of work.
Popular with IT Service providers and in Government circles. Archimate fits in nicely with TOGAF and is now an Open Group standard.This enables the IT service providers to talk in the same standard language used by their global clients.
Solution Architecture frameworks
Solution Architecture Methods whether they are bespoke, based on TOGAF or Zachman have been around for quite some time. Now these methods have matured a lot, particularly in captive off shore development shops of Multi Nationals.
Government Agencies globally are looking at Cloud Computing as a solution to address scalability, sharing, non capital spend etc as they tackle the job of providing and managing Information to citizens.
Architecture Repository set up
This is a very effective way of delivering value quickly if the right tools are used. TOGAF provides an excellent structure for setting up the repository and also has many templates, reference models etc for initial start up configurations in a short span of time. This is particularly popular with organisations that have a limited budget for EA and want to use existing resources to streamline EA activities and deliver value quickly.
I am sure the new year will bring more exciting stuff into the fore. Till then wish you all a Happy Christmas and a bright and wonderful New Year!!!
There are four good reasons why you cannot afford to leave
out Enterprise Architects from your Enterprise. This is because Enterprise Architect is some one who can:
- Assist CXO’s by facilitating the setting of clear
Vision for Business and Technology capabilities by utilising the “state of the
art” to enable major Business Transformations and
delivering enterprise wide Business and Technology assets to realise the
Vision. The effort to create these assets can be “Capitalised”.
- Make it easier for Solution and Technical
Architects by delivering more clarity into Functional and Non-Functional
requirements, repository of re-usable assets, enterprise wide standards and
- Assist CEO and Executive Management by monitoring
Projects and Programs to deliver the promised Business benefits at the
Enterprise level and not just at Program / Project or Line Of Business level
and reflecting any changes to business and technology environments to do the same
during the implementation period.
- Make life easier for PM’s to initiate Projects and
Programs by delivering more clarity into requirements, working out initial cost
and resource estimation, Solution Options, Risks and Business Value and Technology
This is possible only if
the Enterprise Architect has the following skills set / experience and not some Enterprise Technology expertise:
- Extensive Technical
breadth gained over many years in IT areas including Application development,
Infrastructure, Integration and Data. They should be IT generalists rather than
experts in some enterprise technology
- Expertise in a structured approach
for Architecture. Proficiency in more than one method and expertise in at
least one industry recognized method
- Full Project / Program
life cycle experience in multiple projects
- Business Analysis and
Project Management experience
- Consulting and
- Strong Communication and
Does your Enterprise measure up?
How much more plain can we get, you might ask. Nevertheless, the world of "Big Data Analytics" is full of technology jargons, panaceas and products at the moment. I will try and present here all I have unearthed without mention of any of the jargons or panaceas or products. "Big data Analytics" is already upon us. Enterprises just have to find ways of leveraging it using innovative solutions. You can see the effect of this when you see the message "Your Amazon.com Recommended For You" in Amazon web site where you previously purchased something. You can also see it in Facebook when you see "People You may know" or in LinkedIn when you see "Jobs You may be interested in". You can also experience it when you see announcements from some innovative Insurance companies which offer "Tailored Premiums" to suit your driving habits.
These predictions are made by processing a variety of unstructured customer data such as emails, videos, photos, web pages visited, product images, sensor data and Geo-Spatial information. Mind you, this data is also coming at high speed and in large volumes.This processing of such data has been made possible essentially by a very clever way of distributing the data and computing ("Divide and Conquer"). Many organisations may not have the capacity to store and process such large volume, high velocity, large variety of data. This is where "Cloud Computing" can help. I talked about what businesses can get out of Cloud Computing today in my previous blog.
Meanwhile the traditional Data Analysis and Business Intelligence using Data Warehouses will continue to happen. "Big Data Analytics" might occur in parallel or in integration with Traditional Analytics within an organisation.
How does an Enterprise go about developing "Big Data Analytics" capabilities? Currently the major players in the product scene are are Oracle, EMC, IBM and Microsoft. The core capabilities of "Big Data Processing" is available as an Appliance or as Software. Combine this with those who provide "Cloud Computing" services like Amazon Web Services and you get the picture.
A word of advice before you jump into the solution mode. This kind of IT investment decision has to be backed by a proper Enterprise Architecture approach to figure out how you would "Plug and Play" the products into your current landscape to derive optimum business value.You will need the Enterprise Architecture strategists not the Enterprise Architecture technology gurus.
There is no doubt that Cloud Computing is a major Technology Driver of today and will probably remain so for the next 2 years. I have heard comments that Cloud Computing is nothing new and is just "Old Wine in a New Bottle". These comments just miss the point. I recently did some research on the Products, Technologies and Vendors available in this space and it is mind boggling. The complexity has just increased enormously in recent times and there seems to be no slowing down. Given this scenario, how do Business Executives and Non Technical CIO's make informed decisions on how to invest wisely in this area so that business goals are realised and their day to day problems are resolved? I have always championed the view that Enterprise Architects should be Products and Technology aware so that they can effectively develop Strategies and Architectures to address Enterprise problems but they should be able to articulate the related capabilities in "Plain English".
To this end, I am giving below a Catalogue of Pre-Packaged, Pay-per-use Services which may be provisioned internally or within the Service Provider's Infrastructure:
- Business and Applications related
Data and Content related
- ERP, CRM, HR, Communication, Collaboration and Marketing Applications from Service providers
- Tools for developing “Value
Add” Applications to the above
- Tools for integrating the above
applications to Applications internal to the enterprise
- Work Flow Services
- Bulk Email Handling Service
- Software Development Environments for building web applications in-house and within the Provider's infrastructure
Technology and Infrastructure related
- Distributed Processing Services
for Data Warehousing, Data Mining, Analytics purposes
- Database Administration
Services for Relational and Non Relational Databases
- Data Archival / Retrieval
- Data Import / Export Services
- Content delivery over the web
- Content Search Service
This list is by no means exhaustive but I believe is a good starting point. How to effectively invest in these services for the benefit of the Enterprise will be the subject of an Enterprise Architecture Consulting exercise. We are happy to assist.
- Server, Storage and Operating
System as a bundle
- Internet Domain Name
- Direct Network Connectivity
between in-house Data Centre and service provider's Data Centre
- Storage for large amounts of
- Connectivity Services for
in-house software with external storage
- Process and Data Integration
over Message Queues Services
- In-Memory Caching Services on
- Monitoring Services external
- Alerts Service for externally
- Tools for building and managing
Pre-packaged Services as above for internal Data Centres and operate them
seamlessly with external services
I am excited to announce that The Open Group Group (www.opengroup.org) is holding its first international conference and member meetings for 2013 at Sydney, Australia.
The general theme of the conference is as follows:
Industry Verticals: Finance, Defense, and Exploration, Mining, Minerals
April 15 - 18, 2013
Details are still being finalised. I was told about this when I attended the Washington DC conference in July 2012 where I spoke on the topic of Architecture Governance.
This is a great opportunity to be part of an international event and showcase your Enterprise Architecture achievements.
To answer this question, first of all we need to understand who is asking and what the term means. There are so many different ways in which people understand the term "Enterprise Architect". Most of the confusion is caused by vendors who brand their products with the prefix "Enterprise" as in ERP, Enterprise Management etc., I personally would like to call the Specialists who have High level design, configuration and developmental capability in foundational Technology products as "Technical Architects" or "Application Architects" as the case may be. ERP, CRM etc needs a special treatment because they cover both the Application Functionality and Application Platform in a single package. I tend to call the specialists in these areas as "Enterprise Solution Architects". In my view, an "Enterprise Architect" is an IT Generalist who can provide a conceptual view of the Business, Information and Technology landscape which is Product, Technology and Vendor agnostic. The enterprise here could cover the whole of the organisation or even a Division of the organisation.
Lets look at three main stake holder groups out of the possible many.
If the question comes from the CIO or their Leadership team of a User organisation, the answer is to use this person to define Enterprise wide Platforms of capabilities and to facilitate IT Strategy and Plans and their implementation.
If the question comes from the CEO or their Leadership team of a
User organisation, the answer is to use this person as glue between Business and IT by making this person to understand Business Goals, Objectives, Strategies and Operating models.
If the question comes from Vendors, the answer is to position this person as a trusted advisor in client business to assist the clients in the above activities which will lead to downstream business.
Whatever the case may be it is clear that when "Enterprise Architects" like City Planners are used to provide concepts and capability definitions rather than Design and Solutions the benefits to the Enterprise are significant. Open Group's TOGAF provides all the necessary methods and techniques to realise this.