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What Is Enterprise Acrhitecture

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What is Enterprise architecture?

Enterprise Architecture is the link between strategy and implementation. It is a top down view of the structure of systems; it includes the fundamental organization of a system, embodied by its components, their relationships to each other and the environment, and the principles guiding its design. It can be defined as:

A means for describing business structures and processes that connect business structures.

There are four areas that are commonly accepted as the components of the overall frame work. These are:

• Business Process.

This includes strategy, governance, organisation, and key business processes.

• The Data.

This describes the structure of an organisation's data assets.

• Applications.

This provides an overview for the individual application systems to be deployed, their interactions, and their relationships to the business processes of the organization.

• Technology.

This describes the logical software and hardware that are required to support the deployment of business, data, and application services. This includes IT infrastructure, networks, communications, processing, etc.

It is can be used to get the current view of the business process and also where the business wants to go and how to get there. It can be viewed as city planning for IT covering the overall business processes and IT assets, how they're used, and how they should be built.

What Impact could it have on the business?

A strong Enterprise Architecture process helps to answer basic questions like: What are the organization's business processes, and how is IT supporting those processes?

In general, the essential reasons for developing an Enterprise Architecture include:

• Alignment

Ensuring the reality of the implemented enterprise is aligned with management’s strategy.

• Integration

Realizing that the business rules are consistent across an organization, that the data and its use are immutable and information flow is standardized, and the connectivity and interoperability are managed across the enterprise.

• Change

Facilitating and managing change to any area of the enterprise

• Time-to-market.

Development can be speeded up and it also ensures that the selected solution is the “best fit” and allows for future growth in response to the business needs.

It can also ensure that an organization is not tied to one particular vendor for a solution. Furthermore it can reduce costs by removing multiple parallel systems with one integrated system. It can also highlight opportunities for building greater quality and flexibility into applications without increasing cost.

Finally, by looking at the business process it can identify new ways of thinking about how the process can be improved which in turn could provide some competitive advantage.

“The primary purpose of Enterprise Architecture is to inform, guide, and constrain the decisions for the enterprise, especially those related to IT investments. The true challenge of enterprise engineering is to maintain the architecture as a primary authoritative resource for enterprise IT planning. This goal is not met via enforced policy, but by the value and utility of the information provided by the Enterprise Architecture.” Source: A Practical Guide to Federal Enterprise Architecture .

How to proceed?

The first activity before actually developing the Enterprise Architecture is to evaluate and select an architectural framework as guidance. There are a number of approaches in developing Enterprise architecture, these are Gartner, Zachman both of which focus on the content of Enterprise Architecture and finally there is TOGAF which focuses on the methods of developing an Enterprise Architecture. I suggest using TOGAF because it is the result of best practice, and so its great strength is that it is non-proprietary and free to use. On the other hand, this does mean that the company would need to customize and tailor TOGAF to its own specific needs.

TOGAF has two main components:

ADM -- Architecture Development Method

The ADM is a detailed guide on how to build, maintain and implement an Enterprise Architecture. The outer circles of the graphic represent the major phases required to design and maintain Enterprise Architecture. The ADM is continuously driven by the Requirements Management



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