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Enterprise Architecture Discipline

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Enterprise Architecture Discipline

The field called Enterprise Architecture is not a brand new one. It was born already twenty years ago and initially it began to address two problems:

  • System complexity—Organizations were spending more and more money building IT systems; and
  • Poor business alignment—Organizations were finding it more and more difficult to keep those increasingly expensive IT systems aligned with business need.


The bottom line: more cost, less value. These problems, first recognized 20 years ago, have today reached a crisis point and are more valid than ever. The cost and complexity of IT systems have exponentially increased, while the chances of deriving real value from those systems have dramatically decreased.

Today's bottom line: even more cost, even less value. Large organizations can no longer afford to ignore these problems. The field of enterprise architecture that 20 years ago seemed quaintly quixotic today seems powerfully prophetic.

Many enterprise-architectural methodologies have come and gone in the last 20 years. At this point, perhaps 90 percent of the field use one of these four methodologies:

  • The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architectures — Although self-described as a framework, is actually more accurately defined as a taxonomy
  • The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) — Although called a framework, is actually more accurately defined as a process
  • The Federal Enterprise Architecture — Can be viewed as either an implemented enterprise architecture or a proscriptive methodology for creating an enterprise architecture
  • The Gartner Methodology — Can be best described as an enterprise architectural practice

By the definition of Gartner Enterprise architecture (EA) is a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes. EA delivers value by presenting business and IT leaders with signature-ready recommendations for adjusting policies and projects to achieve target business outcomes that capitalize on relevant business disruptions. EA is used to steer decision making toward the evolution of the future state architecture.

Typical enterprises with several years organical growhts must face with the following problems:

  • IT systems that have become unmanageably complex and increasingly costly to maintain.
  • IT systems that are hindering the organization's ability to respond to current, and future, market conditions in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • Mission-critical information that is consistently out-of-date and/or just plain wrong.
  • A culture of distrust between the business and technology sides of the organization.

When examining each of these methodologies in depth, one is struck by the fact that none of these approaches is really complete. Each has strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others.

For many enterprises, none of these methodologies will therefore be a complete solution. For such organizations, we propose another approach, one that might be called a blended or unique methodology. Choose bits and pieces from each of these methodologies, and modify and merge them according to the specific needs of your organization.

Purported advantages of having an enterprise architecture include improved decision making, improved adaptability to changing demands or market conditions, elimination of inefficient and redundant processes, optimization of the use of organizational assets, and minimization of employee turnover.

But none of the methodologies will only be as good as an organization's commitment to making changes. This commitment must be driven by the highest level of the organization.

The promise of the Enterprise Architecture method hasn't changed: reducing IT cost and complexity, while increasing business value and effectiveness—or, to put it even more simply, improving your competitiveness in an increasingly competitive world.