Everything about what is Enterprise Architecture (EA), EA Frameworks, benefits, best practices, Enterprise Architecture Management (EAM) and the most important use cases.
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The only thing digitalization can’t magically align is our individual preferences of how to work. We complete jobs in the ways we want—sometimes logically, sometimes irresponsibly—and by using whatever tools and resources are before us.
All of this despite working towards the same goal as everyone else in a company.
Modern and traditional enterprises alike employ Enterprise Architects to correct broken processes and augment new strategies by binding them to carefully chosen innovations. It is a strategically, technically high-level role that scales elements of the following IT Architecture subsets for use in enterprise environments.
Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a discipline that manages conflicting approaches to success within large-scale organizations. A specialty devoted equally to the worlds of IT and Business, it introduces practical standards across departmental units and teams in order to streamline efforts with an intelligent sharing of resources.
Enterprise Architectures previously produced exhaustive 5-year plans consisting of excessive amounts of analysis, slow timelines, and rigid conceptual models. With the agility and DevOps movement on today’s IT management best practice, these old Enterprise Architecture mentalities have been forced into obsolescence.
Image 1: The nine key use cases for Enterprise Architecture
As the Enterprise Architecture practice has evolved, their supporting tools have also evolved. Specialized Enterprise Architecture-focused tools are scalable, they support complex modeling, company-wide collaboration, useful integrations, ease of use, while enhancing data integrity and quality. Professional Enterprise Architecture Model tools cover a wide array of use cases, the 9 key oneslisted below.
Elevating IT architectures to enable these benefits led to the rise of dominant working methodologies — most of which developed by consortiums or governments or prominent tech companies — that laid the groundwork to today’s modern Enterprise Architecture practices.
Enterprise Architecture went mainstream in the 1980s after John Zachman released “A Framework for Information Systems Architecture”. Zachman saw that information systems were bringing about a complexity that needed to be mapped with clearer classifications and interfaces—a veritable blueprint, or “architecture”, of IT components across an enterprise.
So he proposed a framework to accomplish the following:
And then published in 1987 an early version of what would become popularly known as the “Zachman Framework” (below).
“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.
Data-, Process-, and Network-focused perspectives to measuring an operation. All courtesy of common-sense descriptions and models.
Perfect for describing a complicated enterprise; not so much for creating one from scratch.
TOGAF is a method of designing, implementing, guiding, and maintaining the construction of enterprises using controlled phases—or, as it is known, the “Architectural Development Method (ADM)”. Its strategies have been iteratively improved upon for 25 years.
FEAF, 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.
Gartner, a global leader in IT research and insights, has put forward enough best practices for Enterprise Architecture solutions throughout the years during its consulting practices that it has built up its own methodology — one focusing more so on business outcomes than abstract phasing.
The release of the Zachman Framework, though a watershed moment in the world of IT, failed to capture the hearts and minds of traditional business leaders who then held the keys to innovation strategies in enterprises. In fact, Zachman intentionally did not position his framework as a methodology for tactically collecting, managing, and deploying the information it describes to leverage broader operation strategies. Though writing in 1987 that the “development of a business strategy and its linkage to information systems strategies” was an “important subject to pursue”, Zachman stopped short of doing so himself.
It was not until the age of digitalization came into full view that the disconnect between IT and Business became so obviously problematic and in need of repair. As more organizational divisions than ever before began pushing IT infrastructures to extreme limits to solve dynamic business challenges—demands hitherto brokered via indirect channels and tools — the need for a predictive, intelligent intermediary grew.
So Enterprise Architecture, a profession chiefly committed to navigating the intricacies of modern workspaces, was assigned the task. So what are the goals of Enterprise Architecture? The goals of Enterprise Architecture are to offer a holistic overview of an enterprise, one with every business capability mapped alongside its underpinning technologies, to lead rather than merely guide strategic transformations.
And to make it all configurable to different architectural targets.
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Enterprise Architecture’s new remit meant that it had to re-define itself to the standards of a digital era. Once a deskbound pursuit accomplished in backrooms, it had to break free from theoretical concerns to bring the following tangible benefits to enterprises in applied manners. The main benefits of Enterprise Architecture are:
Somehow none of the actual tools and software to facilitate these frameworks and Enterprise Architecture methodologies kept pace with the ambitious ideas they were intended to manifest. Excel, Visio and SharePoint — basic consumer items essentially re-purposed to approximate architectural visions — served for far too long as the de facto instruments to envision IT and Business designs.
All of this changed with the concept of Enterprise Architecture Management — a democratized re-imagining of Enterprise Architecture wherein the responsibilities of data mapping is dispersed throughout an enterprise and collaborated upon via accessible portals and automated visualizations.
Enterprise architecture tools aim to capture, store, structure, and analyze pertinent information pertaining to the architecture of an enterprise, and offer support for strategic decision making by capturing vital enterprise information, along with content development and analysis capabilities across the business, information, technology and solution architectures. Modern enterprises require tools that facilitate the implementation of a business strategy focused on business outcomes and risk mitigation.
Architectures observed by, accounted for, and fortified by an enterprise worth of personnel.
It was a dramatic shift that came out of a need to maximize resources to counter three use cases defining digitally-focused enterprises and incapable of being accomplished in scattered efforts:
The imperatives of the above use cases plus the global push for agile business models has led to the rise of LeanIX’s Modern Enterprise Architecture Management Tool—an SaaS specifically tailored to support the digital strategies of enterprises in collaborative and automated manners.
LeanIX elevates the EA principles established by John Zachman and TOGAF by connecting the definitions of all IT applications and Business processes within an integrated reporting network. It is structured upon three now-indispensable features of Enterprise Architecture:
In our YouTube-Video, Oliver Schwarz, Head of Smart Customer Solutions at Vaillant shows how Vaillant transformed itself from a conventional lighting company to one of the leading innovators in its sector, being Enterprise Architecture Management the key enabler for innovation. He also gave some examples and visions for the future of Enterprise Architecture and explain why it is so important in digital transformation.
The digitization age and a higher number of organizational divisions pushed IT infrastructures to solve business challenges. That's why EA best practices can help you tackle complex challenges in a tried and controlled manner from the ground up. McKinsey mentioned the following.
The inherent accessibility of modern Enterprise Architecture Management and its fundamental use cases in organizations has led to the popularity of dedicated training centers—many of which connected to improving EA proficiency in key topics like cloud transformation, data compliance, and risk management:
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