What Is Enterprise Architecture (EA)?

101 on enterprise architecture

This guide provides a general understanding of Enterprise Architecture (EA) and what you need to know to get started.

  • What Is Enterprise Architecture?
  • What are the six basic elements of enterprise architecture?
  • What can Enterprise Architecture do for you?
  • Benefits of Enterprise Architecture
  • Business Logic in Enterprise Architecture
  • Data in Enterprise Architecture
  • Application in Enterprise Architecture (software)
  • Technology in Enterprise Architecture (Hardware/IT)
  • Architecture vs Enterprise Architecture
  • Enterprise Architecture Frameworks
  • The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture
  • The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)
  • Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF)
  • Digital Transformation with Enterprise Architecture
  • Architecting for Growth

What Is Enterprise Architecture?

Both custom software and out-of-the-box software offer unique tools to enhance how every business runs. From major corporations to multi-city companies, small teams to sole proprietors, getting a return on investment (ROI) from your Enterprise Architecture (EA) requires understanding how the structure and operation of an organization are defined.

Enterprise architecture is a well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a comprehensive approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy.

EA helps businesses structure IT projects and policies to achieve desired business results and to stay on top of industry trends and disruptions using architecture principles and practices –a process also known as enterprise architectural planning (EAP).

Enterprise architecture ensures that there's an overarching plan and bricks aren't stacked at random. Having each department's data and software isolated isn't good for a company - all tools need to be interconnected so that the process runs smoothly.

E.A. Can Be Viewed as Three Things:

  • A Discipline
    It is a way of thinking about the structure of an enterprise.
  • A set of work products
    A set of models and diagrams that represent and describe the structure of an enterprise.
  • A Process
    There are processes for architecting an enterprise, covering how architectures are created, how they change and evolve, and how architectures are managed.

What are the six 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 frameworks consist of the same core elements. 

  1. Architecture management
    Each enterprise should have a team overseeing its architecture. This team makes sure everyone stays on track. It ensures that IT infrastructure is aligned with business goals.
  1. Architecture framework
    The architecture is defined by this model or methodology. It is a blueprint that defines the big picture for enterprise strategy as well as the required IT infrastructure
  1. Implementation methodology
    These are the measures that must be taken to put the framework's approach into action. Implementation is the process of taking a project from conception to conclusion.
  1. Documentation artifacts
    This is where the organization's strategy, plan, and workflow are documented. IT solutions must be configured to meet the frameworks and implementation requirements. All modifications and procedures must be recorded in your documentation artifacts, which must be kept up to date.
  1. Architecture repository
    This is the toolkit for businesses. All of an organization's resources and procedures will be available. Teams are free to utilize whatever tools they need to achieve the framework's objectives.
  1. Associated best practices
    When an organization establishes uniformity of its operational processes, it is referred to as best practices. This ensures process consistency and compliance. However, it encourages openness so that teams are aware of the deliverables (documentation artifacts).

(ringcentral.com)

What can Enterprise Architecture do for you?

The goals for Enterprise Architecture are to promote alignment, standardization, reuse of existing IT assets, and the sharing of common methods for project management and software development across the organization.

The end result, theoretically, is that the Enterprise Architecture will make IT less expensive, more strategic, and more responsive if used with the right software infrastructure.

“By 2021, 40% of organizations will use enterprise architects to help ideate new business innovations made possible by emerging technologies.”

Marcus Blosch, VP Analyst, Gartner

 

Main Blockers

Creating and maintaining an Enterprise Architecture model that is both up-to-date and accurate is a difficult task due to the size and complexity of the models and the dispersed nature of EA information in organizations.

Some Enterprise Architecture models that are maintained manually with only a little automation in some businesses can be very time-consuming.

  • Documentation is not comprehensive—Despite numerous updates to the most popular frameworks created in the 80s and 90s, their modern versions may still be considered impractical or outdated. Filling the EA documentation gap requires resources that may not always be available.
  • They can be time-consuming and inflexible—Most EA frameworks are less dynamic than modern business toolkits. They take time to plan out to gather requirements, are not change-friendly, require training to develop and present, and are more about documentation than system implementation.
  • Complete integration is difficult—The limitations of each framework may not provide an opportunity for seamless integration of legacy systems with a company's new system, requiring adjustments that require additional resources.

A Solution

Keep your enterprise architecture models current by gaining input both from human and technical interfaces, and discuss implementation issues to ensure the processes will be realized in practice. Then, analyze which mature processes exist and how they relate to each other, start integrating systems and reduce double data entry with business process automation.

Benefits of Enterprise Architecture

Boosted Productivity

Unified companies are better at adapting to change. And that means they are prepared for more changes in technology.

A good Enterprise Architecture simplifies the flow of technology and tech systems. And, they free up specialists to focus on their area of expertise.

Increased Clarity

Enterprise architects help push a company's mission to the front of the decision-making process. And, that can make choices much simpler.

They help simplify tasks and boost the efficiency of information technology systems. This all saves time and gets the money streaming in a direction that's consistent with the company's goals.

Less Risk

Enterprise architects have a knack for simplifying information technology. And, that usually means safer IT. They can identify potential risks and improve system security. That also tends to turn into fewer big crashes or technological disasters.

A Focus on Measurability

One of the top things driving this positive enterprise architect career outlook is the benchmarks it can create. It's hard to monitor progress without measurement tools.

Enterprise architects can set up measurement tools, gather data, and improve a company's productivity and ROI, which in turn can set a company on a path to accomplishing its strategic goals.

Enable Growth

Companies need to innovate rapidly to stay competitive. Many organizations struggle to adopt newer technology like microservices, IoT, or cloud migration, or to implement the lean DevOps methodologies needed to keep pace in today’s digital world. These trends can bring considerable value by speeding up time to market, creating new revenue streams, reducing costs, and improving agility. Enterprise architects are in the best position to help their companies navigate digital transformation – which, if done properly, can lead to tremendous growth opportunities.

Ensure Compliance

Enterprise architects are integral in maintaining their company’s compliance with financial and government regulatory bodies. Take, for example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This regulation imposes unprecedented rules on the management of personal data. The GDPR proposes severe penalties for noncompliance – up to €20 million or 4% of the global annual turnover for the preceding financial year. Enterprise architects can clearly demonstrate GDPR compliance by ensuring all pertinent data is gathered and presented in a well-organized manner.

Reduce Complexity

As organizations experience organic and inorganic growth, IT landscapes can become unmanageable, and fast. This results in duplicate systems, inconsistent data, and reliance on patchwork integrations. Enterprise architects can tackle overcomplexity head-on by providing a roadmap for streamlining IT environments, which directly contributes to reducing costs.

Business Logic in Enterprise Architecture

The main objective of business logic in Enterprise Architecture, also known as Business Architecture, is understanding what the company's strategy is. This means delivering value end-to-end in the most efficient way.

Communication is key, supported by documentation that outlines the company's most important business processes. Top managers usually meet once a month for four to eight hours. This meeting provides the opportunity to review performance and to make adjustments to the strategy and its execution. The underlying hypotheses of the company’s strategy can be tested and new actions initiated if needed.

Unless all employees understand the strategy, the process will not run smoothly. As the brick layer’s parable shows, you want employees to have:

  1. Big Picture Thinking – Able to see the end result and how their work contributes to that end.
  2. Attitude – A positive attitude and pride in what they are doing that show up in their work and its execution.
  3. Connection to the Organization’s Mission – Employees who are aligned and connected with the organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals are happier, more engaged, and more productive employees.

 Data in Enterprise Architecture

Data architecture encompasses the models, policies, rules, and standards that govern what data is collected and how it is stored, arranged, integrated, and used within an organization and its various systems.

Great data architecture enables stakeholders to see business-critical information regardless of its source and relate to it from their unique perspectives.

Business process architecture represents the elements of a business and how they interact. It aims to align people, processes, data, technologies, and applications to meet organizational objectives. The end result is a real-world picture of how an organization functions, including opportunities to create, improve, harmonize, or eliminate processes to improve overall performance and profitability.

Application Architecture

Application Architecture maps the relationships that software applications have with each other. The architecture describes the interfaces that are provided or required by the applications and the way they interact to carry out the activities described in the business models such as the Business Process diagrams.

As many parts of IT become more automated, companies must decide whether buying, subscribing, or building software for these parts is a better approach. Choosing to build custom tools and applications to automate your business processes is often the better choice, but does that require managing an in-house software department team? No, you can contract with a software development company near you to build your application so that you don't have to manage a software company/department on your own. Even if you have an internal team, they may be consumed with other projects but they could absorb a new application if developed by an external team with your data and business architecture in mind.

Entrusting another company with building and maintaining platforms that are crucial for your business requires research. You must know your partner has the experience and will support you as you grow and your needs evolve. Close, personal contact goes far in maintaining a productive partnership, so determine which firms in your region you can trust to manage your software development.

The SilverLogic, a South Florida company, has worked successfully as an extension team for renowned companies developing automated applications.

Technology in Enterprise Architecture (Hardware/IT)

Infrastructure technology architecture provides a blueprint for scaling up your hardware, storage systems, and networks. Business architecture is the most critical, but also the most difficult to implement, according to industry practitioners.

The technology and risk management objective is to leverage transparency about important IT components to reduce complexity and resolve security vulnerabilities, compliance issues, and the inability to support the business. The expected results should be a full list of all applications in use, a full assessment of all software versions, servers, and data centers in use, and a direct analysis of how technology is affecting the business.

 Architecture vs Enterprise Architecture

The term “architecture” describes the manner in which components of the system are organized and integrated. The essential links between individual elements, among other things, are recognized.

Analyzing the complete structure of the architecture of an enterprise (EA) on its business logic, data, applications (software), and technology (hardware) is characterized by its comprehensive view of IT functions within a company. It encompasses the interaction of IT elements and business activities.

The Enterprise Architecture Frameworks

The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture

As described on Zachman’s main website, The Zachman Framework™ IS NOT a methodology for creating the implementation (an instantiation) of the object. The Framework IS the ontology for describing the Enterprise. The Framework (ontology) is a STRUCTURE whereas a methodology is a PROCESS. A Structure is NOT a Process. A Structure establishes a definition whereas a Process provides Transformation.

“A Framework for Information Systems Architecture” (1987), a conceptual precursor to the “Zachman Framework”, as it appeared in Vol. 26., No. 3 of the IBM Systems Journal.

 

 The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)

The Open Group Architecture Framework is a framework for enterprise architecture that provides an approach for designing, planning, implementing, and governing an enterprise information technology architecture. TOGAF is a high-level approach to design. Its strategies have been iteratively improved upon for 25 years.

 

Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF)

Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework, an architectural framework designed initially for use by the U.S. Government to integrate its federal agencies, is a collaborative planning methodology that has become a popular EA model used in private enterprises.

 

 

Are you looking for growth?
First, have a hard look at your software architecture.

Since technology is advancing so rapidly, many firms are left with a patchwork of systems, applications, and software, which has resulted in a technological mess.

Enterprise architecture takes a holistic approach to boost business productivity, getting entire corporations on the same page by pulling together all operations and systems. Taking a look at a company's different technologies, information systems, and processes, good enterprise architecture helps shift and unite those entities towards common company goals.

The SilverLogic is an award-winning custom software engineering company and solutions architect based in Boca Raton, Florida. Our team leverages cutting-edge technologies and tools to develop custom solutions that save businesses time and money and turn costly business problems or bottlenecks, into streamlined profitable solutions.

Since 2012, we have transformed clients’ ideas and the vision of their ideal business into reality by enhancing client experience or reducing operating costs, resulting in their investment paying for itself. Whether it's customizing out-of-the-box software, supporting startups, or developing custom solutions, we work collaboratively with clients from start to finish to ensure users, staff, and/or customers get the experience they need to play a key role in delivering results for your business.

 

 Interested in business automation? Let us know!

 

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Sources

Enterprise Architecture A to Z: Frameworks, Business Process Modeling, SOA, and Infrastructure Technology - Daniel Minoli

The Concise Definition Of The Zachman Framework By: John A. Zachman

What Is Enterprise Architecture (ea)? - Definition from Whatis.com

What is Enterprise Architecture (EA)?

The Story Of Three Bricklayers – A Parable About The Power Of Purpose

Enterprise Architecture (ea) Gartner_Inc 

What Is Enterprise Architecture? A Framework For Transformation