Enterprise Architecture – What is it?

May 7, 2012

By:  Elbert Jenkins II
(Repost from 2/1/2012)

Enterprise architecture (EA) is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating and improving the key requirements; principles and models that describe the enterprise’s future state and enable its evolution. At least, that’s how Wikipedia defines Enterprise Architecture. But what does it mean in layman’s terms? As it was once explained to me by one of my college roommates (who is now a teacher a private college in Atlanta), Enterprise Architecture is simply a “blueprint that explains the layout and operations of a business entity merge together via a specific type of technology”. And, just in case were wondering, the US Government defines it in such a way that it is considered a documented result of an examination of an entity rather than the process of examining a business entity. Either way you put it, EA plays a vital role in help determining the amount of success an entity may experience in future based upon how much thought was placed into the framing of the organization via initial business strategy.

The field of Enterprise Architecture started around 1987, with the publication in the IBM Systems Journal of an article called “A Framework for Information Systems, by J.A. Zachman. It was in this publication that Zachman laid out the challenges and the vision of enterprise architectures that would guide the field for the next 20 years. Over time as the desire to implement the process became more integrated within the standard business model, the framework became more revised and designed to merge all aspects of a business together into four separate yet closely related categories.

· Business Architecture – Normally deals with the normal day to day business processes

· Technology Architecture – Links the Business, Data and Application Architectures together with interoperable technology platforms

· Information Architecture – Consists of the databases and data models used by all the participating employees to help implement and develop all of the strategies and policies within the organization

· Application Architecture – Joins the business and data architectures together to support the work activities of the business process.

Once all of the data is collected and plugged into the model a number of gains are typically realized within a very short time frame after the play is put into operation. Changes like increased efficiency within the Information Technology department due to improved methods and tools that resulted from the detailed outline. From a Developer’s perspective, increased productivity without omitting creativity would surely lead to increased confidence and a higher quality product at the end of the day. With these types of benefits, it’s easy to understand how EA has grown into such a large desirable field. As the need increases so does the qualifications to obtain the role of Enterprise Architect. In the beginning any well versed IT professional would have a shot at such a position but due to the broadening of the application and use of the data and activities surround EA the position has evolved into one that requires one to have more than just a solid foundation in technology, but also have a myriad of qualities that complement the business aspects of an organization.






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