Monday, July 22, 2024

The definition of Enterprise Architecture explained

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There is no exact definition of Enterprise Architecture (EA), Enterprise Architecture. That in itself is not unusual and shows that EA is a large theme area with room for more interpretation.

An attempt to summarize everything EA entails in one sentence ends like this:

  • “The enterprise architecture describes from an integrated perspective how the IT is connected to the company with separate elements and processes, which concerns both structure and workflow.” – Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon
  • “Enterprise architecture (EA) is a discipline for proactive and comprehensive, leading business responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the implementation of change against the desired business vision.” – Gartner IT Glossary
  • “Because EA encompasses all other management frameworks, it is a discipline through which the company can be defined and developed, and the boundless information flow can be utilized […] to achieve the strategic intention of the company.” – The Open Group

Doesn’t it say enough yet? We will tell you how Enterprise Architecture developed from the start. A simple summary is available at the end of this blog. Those who are not interested in the story can scroll right to the end.

The starting point of Enterprise Architecture
It all started in 1987 with a John Zachman publication in IBM Systems Journal. In it he formulated the vision for Enterprise Architecture and thereby tackled the following challenges from that time:

-The increasing complexity of the systems and the thereby increasing costs for planning, implementation and operation.
– The deteriorating compatibility of business goals with the rising system landscape.

If systems becoming more complicated, more planning is needed!

In everyday life and for other engineering disciplines this applies equally. You don’t need an architect to build a house in a vegetable garden. But there are probably rules about how and where the house can be placed. If the structure is larger than an architect is required, this is required by law. This basic rule also applies to IT architecture. But the opposite also has supporters and is called “Quick & Dirty” or “Agile” depending on the time. Maneuverability is very important, but from a certain complexity it is not a substitute for good planning.

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Modern approaches to EA take this into account and leave enough room for maneuverability in their iterative processes to include planning gaps and unforeseeable change. In general, it has become necessary to respond quickly to new requirements. That is why we have to add another point to the problem areas:

  • Rapid adaptation of the organization and systems through the conversion of customer behavior, compliance and technological progress.

The significance of Enterprise Architecture today

“He is the messiah, I know for sure, because I have followed a lot”. This statement from Monty Python’s film “Life of Brian” explains it well. Often the potential of a new technology or method is presented far too quickly. In part, this exaggeration is intentional to generate targeted demand. Gartner has therefore already introduced the “Hype Cycle” to provide orientation. In the course of a renewal, it first climbs to the “top of excessively high expectations” and then plunges into the “valley of disillusion” before finally reaching the “Plateau of productivity”.

Enterprise Architecture is nowadays regarded as renowned and is on its way to a realistic assessment of possibilities. Many organizations use frameworks and tools to manage their enterprise architecture, and EA practices to control and guide the evolution and conversion of architectures. It must be said that the excessively high expectations of the height of the hype have also awakened many critical voices, which EA and the related practices do not like. This criticism is good and important to improve the practices of Enterprise Architecture. EA’s practices aim to ensure an architecture for the “Fitness” (fit-for-purpose). Enterprise Architecture will succeed, because it will take a long time to address the problems of enterprise architecture such as complexity, Business Value and evolution and to serve a “best practice”. Which Framework and Tool for fit-for-purpose is needed must be awaited. 

However, the BlueDolphin tool looks like the best candidate for the moment. This tool is a handy tool that gives insight in the administration and organisation of your company. From communication and coordination to getting a bigger overview from your organisation. To make a clearer vision is the key. It is the perfect tool, visually attractive and easily to maintain, to keep an eye on every facet in Enterprise Architecture and Business Process Management and it’s capable for everyone that is part within the company. 

However, some problems are not the result of immature frameworks and tools, but the result of a one-sided approach to the IT department of a company. EA works best when it is used integrally across the entire company, especially in conjunction with the business side. Another problem is the trend to compensate inexperience by sticking to the framework or the tool. This can easily lead to Over-Engineering. Charlie Parker, a well-known saxophonist, once said it very clearly: “To be a good musician you first have to learn everything and then forget it again!”

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Enterprise Architecture aims to increase efficiency in setting up and managing complex system environments. The constant change is just as important as the focus on Business Value. Interest in practices and popular frameworks has now reached a stable level. Practices of Enterprise Architecture are also suitable for iterative and agile development processes, which require a minimum of planning and control of the architecture environment of a company.

The overall advice will be now; Be wise and choose wisely on how you can benefit from an EA tool or an extra set of helping handles within your company.

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Sara Revonia
Sara Revonia
Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author, and Mom. Sara Revonia’s articles are about business, life, and Entrepreneurship.
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