Enterprise Architecture

​Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture is the methodology by which an organization plans and arranges IT infrastructure. The components of EA are analysis, design, planning, and implementation. Architectural framework principles guide the organization through business, information, process, and technology strategies, all with an eye to reaching the desired business outcomes.

Enterprise architecture was first conceptualized in the 1960s under the term of Business Systems Planning (BSP). But the widespread implementation of enterprise architecture frameworks was a result of rapidly increasing business technologies in the 1980s. EA had become a means for combining legacy applications with current and future processes, a concurrent implementation allowing an organization to optimize business capabilities.

Today, EA has further developed to encompass various other methodologies. These range from quite general to industry-specific architecture frameworks. Some models emphasize different domains or goals depending on management resources and business vision and outcomes. For instance, a tech company from Silicon Valley will aim to increase shareholder value. Whereas, a government agency will aim to improve the end-user experience.

Goals of Enterprise Architecture

The purpose of EA is to form a cohesive and comprehensive blueprint of how an organization is structured. An enterprise architecture model paints a big picture of the entire organization, with a long-term view. This blueprint describes the business processes, hierarchical structure, information systems, and technologies. It also allows room for the adoption of modern innovations.

But EA is also a roadmap to guide an organization with planning and maintaining business goals over time and bolstering them through technology. General goals of any EA are:

  1. Effectiveness: EA establishes a workflow for essential and accurate processes. An EA blueprint defines how to reach deliverables set out by the business.

  2. Efficiency: The ability to reuse resources and eliminate redundancies is clearly set out within the framework. Business process modeling and workflow mapping can produce greater collaboration.

  3. Agility: Organizations look to EA to make sense of combining legacy technology and new technology adoption. A correct model will assess technology risks, as well as guide the monitoring, metrics, and analysis needed to identify when and how to evolve IT in alignment with business goals.

  4. Continuity: Nothing is more important to leading enterprises than being able to maintain mission-critical business operations. EA allows for the highest level of continuity through standardization of business and IT processes.

Basic Elements of Enterprise Architecture

There are many components that make up the EA model. Enterprise IT infrastructure varies, and business needs are organization dependent. But all EA framework consists of the same core elements.

  1. Architecture management: Each enterprise will need an oversight team for the architecture. They make sure everyone else stays on track. The team is there to ensure alignment of business goals with IT infrastructure.

  2. Architecture framework: This is the model or methodology that defines the architecture. It is the blueprint that defines the big picture for enterprise strategy, including the required IT infrastructure.

  3. Implementation methodology: These are the steps required to implement the strategy laid out by the framework. Implementation directs a project all the way to completion.

  4. Documentation artifacts: This is where the organization documents strategy, plan, and workflow. IT solutions must be set up to fit the needs set out by the framework and implementation. Your documentation artifacts record all changes and processes, and must be kept up to date.

  5. Architecture repository: This is the enterprise toolbox. All of the resources and processes that an organization has will be available. Teams can use any tools as they deem necessary to accomplish the goals set out by the framework.

  6. Associated best practices: Best practices are where the organization creates standardization of their operating procedures. This enforces consistency of processes and compliance. But it also promotes transparency, so teams understand the deliverables (documentation artifacts).

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