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Importance of Enterprise Architecture

Benefit From Gray Arrow Kaytek IT Business Technology Consulting Insights

Gray Arrow Microsoft Tech Ed 2010 Top Architect Contest - Kaytek Director Mr. Mahesh Khatri once again selected as One Of Top Software Architects in India. Problem domain was E-learning for Basic Literacy in India via 3 screens (PC, TV & Mobile) based on Mr. Nandan Nilekani's Unique Identity Project. ( 9th April 2010)

Kaytek Director Mr. Mahesh Khatri is 1st runner-up winner at Microsoft Tech-Ed 2009 Top Software Architect Contest at Hyderabad in May 2009. The solution involved Microsoft's Cloud Computing - Windows Azure OS & Services Platform. (16th May 2009)

On one of the global electronic forums on Enterprise Architecture, Kaytek Consulting Director recently had interactions on the Importance of Enterprise Architecture with a Senior IT Manager of one of India's Top Private Sector Insurance Company.

This organization's group companies are one of most IT savvy in India both within their insurance vertical and other financial services.

Their Group Head looks after the IT function personally to the best of our knowledge as per press reports. These discussions are shown below.

Down Arrow Importance of Enterprise Architecture & Enterprise Architects for Organizations.

Enterprise Architecture (EA) (and Enterprise Architects) are critical to an organization's information systems functioning for many reasons.

A comprehensive EA has to be driven primarily by business drivers.

Organizations have life spans that are much longer than individual life times. Also, the current complexity of information systems in an organization necessitates a structured approach to documenting the same.

EA provides a uniform conceptual framework that remains consistently true across the organizational life.

Down Arrow 1.0 - Scope of EA - Let us consider the words 'Enterprise Architecture'.

Down Arrow 1.1 - All Organizational Resources

Gray Arrow First, The Enterprise has to cover all the Organizational Resources. We refer to them as the M-Assets. They are :

Square Separator Men (& Women) Square Separator Methods Square Separator Money Square Separator Markets Square Separator Materials Square Separator Mortar-Brick Square Separator Machines Square Separator Messages Square Separator More

Within each of the above M-Assets , you could have further categories based on your requirements.

e.g. One way to further categorize Men (& Women) would be the Types Of Organizational Stakeholders - Owners, Suppliers, Customers, Employees, Regulators & Others.

One could do similar categorization for the other M-Assets - the Methods, Money, Markets, Materials, Mortar-Brick, Machines & Messages based on specific business needs.

Down Arrow 1.2 - Both Business and Technology

Gray Arrow Second, The Architecture has to encompass both Business Architecture & Technology Architecture.

Business Architecture would be the structure of the organization (again organized as the above M-Assets resources). Technology Architecture considers the Computing & Communication technology areas (and components) in it's scope.

At it's most basic level, EA covers all possible combinations of the components within Enterprise & Architecture above.

Down Arrow 2.0 - EA as a Communication Platform

Gray Arrow Let us consider EA's value as a communication platform that it provides to all stake holders - technical or non-technical in the organization.

EA should give the means to communicate 'The Architecture of the Enterprise' to all stakeholders.

Down Arrow 2.1 - EA as a Communication Platform for Software Technologists

Gray Arrow As an example, in the context of technical people, let us consider the area of Software Development.

Internal Stakeholders could be Business Analysts, Project Manager, User Interface Designers, Database Designers, Programmers, Testers, Implementers, etc.

These people should be able to easily use the EA artifacts (or deliverables).

They can only do so when EA enables them to communicate at a higher abstraction level than their individual specializations & skills.

There are 3 examples of EA's value as a communication platform shown below :

Down Arrow 2.1.1 - EA as a communication tool for designers

Gray Arrow EA should help communication of work knowledge between A Database designer & A User Interface designer working at different levels of software abstraction.

Down Arrow 2.1.2 - EA as a communication medium for programmers

Gray Arrow Between programmers, EA should help communication between a J2EE Java programmer & a MS .NET C++ programmer.

Down Arrow 2.1.3 - EA as a communication vehicle for managers

Gray Arrow Within a project, EA should help communicate the Business Analyst's business requirements to the technical requirements as understood by the Project Manager.

I hope the value of EA artifacts as communication vehicles is clear in the context of a software project.

Down Arrow 3.0 - Where does one start EA within the organization ?

Gray Arrow On the question of the starting area of EA within your organization, our suggestion would be to start with your Largest Pain Areas & Highest Pay-Off Areas. Pick the low hanging fruits first.

Down Arrow You should be able to easily identify those amongst the 3 key areas of Helping your Organization to either

Gray Arrow 3.1 - Kaytek Offerings help you Raise Revenues Raise Revenues / Increase Incomes

Gray Arrow 3.2 - Kaytek Offerings help you Cut CostsCut Costs / Eliminate Expenses

Gray Arrow 3.3 - Kaytek Offerings help you Satisfy Stakeholders Satisfy Stakeholders

Many times, enterprise architects debate on whether they should use enterprise data, information or applications as starting points.

For non technical senior managers, the above options may perhaps be meaningless.

"Where's the beef ? said an old burger advertisement in the US.

Similarly, (and especially so in today's ruthless cost cutting environment).

Any & every EA initiative must be immediately understood by decision makers as helping achieve one of the 3 business objectives mentioned above.

Down Arrow 4.0 - What is the Enterprise Architect's Job ?

Gray Arrow To provide a holistic picture (the so-called helicopter macro view) to the relevant stakeholders along with the discrete individual solution architectural pieces.

Also, these adhoc solution pieces need to be coherently assembled by Enterprise Architects like us into a larger jigsaw puzzle at a higher level.

EA helps you get both a A Top level Macro Helicopter Perspective & A Detailed Deep Dive Dirty Hands On Operational Issue Handling Capability.

It should help you spans the entire stack of the Enterprise Technology and Business Architecture either in a Top Down or a Bottoms Up fashion.

Down Arrow 5.0 - Is EA linked to a specific technology ?

Gray Arrow EA is technology agnostic.

It helps you work with whatever technologies your organization has invested in or you have the capabilities to work with.

e.g. As a building architect, I may design a house for you which does not specify the construction materials that you may use.

You may choose to build your house with twigs, stones or bricks.

Remember the Kindergarten story of the 3 little pigs ?

It is upto you to choose your technology instances or business solutions.

A caveat, though. It is always helpful to know technologies in depth so that you can always strive to optimize the technical architecture of your applications as you scale & grow. EA does not depend on specific technologies.

e.g. an aircraft designer need not be an airplane pilot or vice-versa.

Down Arrow 6.0 - Is EA confusing ?

Gray Arrow Not really. There is absolute clarity. What happens is that technology environments change rapidly leading to people getting confused & astray at times.

Down Arrow 7.0 - Which is more important - An IT Strategy or an EA Strategy ? Where does on start within the organization ?

Gray Arrow Choose whatever makes business sense to you. Decide the projects based on the business objectives mentioned in 3.1, 3.2 & 3.3 on the left.

However, the two (IT strategy & EA consultancy ) are not mutually exclusive.

Gray Arrow Kaytek can surely provide some pointers on how EA can help solve both the integration & application redundancy identification issues (amongst others) in the enterprise's IT infrastructure.

We have developed proprietary business & technology templates, frameworks that can help your organization achieve it's business goals with EA. Kindly email us for more details.

Gray Arrow Kaytek Director's Article on ITIL - Information Technology Infrastructure Library published by Microsoft earlier published by IASA - International Association of Software Architects, USA on their website.

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Updated on 7th January 2011.
Created on 9th April 2009.
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