A couple of thoughts on Enterprise Architecture

A couple of questions that has been nagging me for quite a while are: Does Enterprise Business Architecture encompass IT Architecture? Why are people confused by the term Enterprise Architect?

The struggle, it would seem, is all in the language. I first heard Enterprise Architecture while working in a technical support role and it was in reference to the IT Architecture for the entire enterprise. Along came the Enterprise Business Architects and suddenly there is a confusion of terms. Or is there? The way I see it, and this is just one person’s opinion, is that there needs to be standardization on the language used when describing IT and Business Architecture. Well duh, you say?

I have discussed this with some peers and colleagues and depending on their background training and current role, the answers fall into two buckets. The IT folks get confused when I say Enterprise Architecture includes IT Architecture, Information Architecture and Business Architecture. The Business folks usually respond with a simple “of course”, but don’t always agree that Business Architecture is governed by Enterprise Architecture. It is after all, one portion of the enterprise.
A very simple illustration of my view of EA:



By No means is this an exhaustive examination of the all that EA is supposed to be, but it does demonstrate why the language confusion exists. And yes, Information and Information Technology are different – the differences to be explained in another blog sometime later.
It may come down to the same problem that has existed for years – The business and IT folks must understand that their operations are only one part of the enterprise and they must work in conjunction with all parts of the organization for it to be an efficient, productive enterprise.

5 comments:

paultpreiss said... / August 5, 2009 at 6:45 AM  

Brad,

You are in good company wondering about these things. However there term architecture itself in this context implies a technology component (unless you are building a building or a ship). Too much confusion has been added to the mix by a small group of people trying to make business architecture a non-technology related activity. In the up and coming certifications from IASA business architecture will remain a technology strategy role and not a business consulting role with a new title.

Paul

LaxBrad said... / August 17, 2009 at 2:35 PM  

Paul - That's the point..... Why does IT 'Own' the term Archtiecture when IT is only one of many parts within the Enterprise?

nick said... / August 19, 2009 at 10:56 PM  

I first heard of Enterprise Architecture as it related to the Zachman Framework, which is definitely IT focused. Enterprise "Business" Architecture emphasizes linkages between Business Models and System Models and it is much larger in scope in that it encompasses both technical infrastructure and organizational structure.

After going through the Enterprise Business Architecture program, I liken it Business Analysis at an Enterprise level and applying many of the same modeling techniques to larger concepts. EBA models Programs, Services and Processes which then allows for further alignment with System Models.

I personally think it bridges the all important gap between Business and IT while reinforcing the basic stratagem that Business drives IT, not the reverse.

This PowerPoint presentation seems to address it quite well:

http://download.theiiba.org/files/IIBAMarch282007v1.ppt

Nectoux said... / October 17, 2009 at 8:33 PM  

Very good summary of our everyday struggles. EA is, before everything else a combination of these 2 worlds: business & IT. Even if IT people don't like to hear it, IT is there to serve the business. In the other hand, to make it work corretly, business must respect the IT. EA is an intelligent collaboration of both, considering & respecting both.

Jon H Ayre said... / November 12, 2009 at 12:48 AM  

You sum it up in basic essence. I am, however surprised by Paul's response. Business architecture is not a technology issue - it is architecture for the business, articulating the business vision in a clear and concise manner. Implementation of that vision may require IT or it may not (although IT will almost certainly play a part in most elements of the business solution). The IT Architecture (constructed from application architecture and technology architecture) is then derived from that business architecture to fulfil the technology elements of the solution.

The information architecture also has a business element (the businesses desired view of its implementation) and a technology view (reflecting the underlying IT data architecture that fulfil the information needs of the business).

Enterprise architecture is therefore truly inclusive, and not simply the domain of IT.

However, the technique of architecture is itself a highly structured engineering style discipline, and there are many from the IT world who are best placed to perform it. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that your enterprise architect(s) will probably from a technical background.

Regards
The Enterprising Architect