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Organizations that have a Mature Enterprise Architecture Function are Better Positioned to take Advantage of Emerging and Converging Technologies

By Bill Genovese, Principall&Technology Architect, WGroup

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Bill Genovese, Principall&Technology Architect, WGroup

When you build a house, do you build it haphazardly without requirements or specifications? Of course not. You want to ensure that the house has a solid foundation, running water, electricity, access to public services, physical security services and zones in the house– all while adhering to specific zoning regulations in your town and state.

You may select a plot of land and have an idea in your mind on what the house will look like. You’ll draw up some diagrams, or even hire an architect to provide a set of well–designed and detailed blueprints, that will identify down to the level of detail both your “private” services and your “public” services you need to access from the town, state and even government.

The same holds true for corporations that are now venturing more into emerging technologies, such as Cloud Computing, IoT and Big Data, which are converging in many areas of the enterprise. The use of a well-defined strategy with specified services (i.e private, public leveraged and “hybrid”), and a mature Enterprise Architecture driven framework that provides building blocks that can act as investment enablers for decisions is critical for cost avoidance, so that maximum accelerated ROI is achieved. In addition, a mature Enterprise Architecture provides the guardrails to mitigate risk as technologies converge to meet the goals of the organization; so that common “services” provide a stable foundation for the “house” while these can also be leveraged to make the lives of the inhabitants better, to get more value out of their planning and building investments for the house.

“Enterprise Architecture provides a roadmap for an organization on where to best leverage existing assets for development of services to take advantage of “Cloud Computing”, “Big Data”, and the IoT”

Enterprise Architecture (EA) establishes the roadmap to achieve an aligned business-technology mission, based on the organization’s tactical and strategic drivers through optimal performance of its core business processes within an efficient information technology (IT) environment. Simply stated, enterprise architectures are blueprints that systematically and completely define an organization’s current (baseline) or desired (target) environment. Enterprise architectures are essential for evolving information systems and developing new systems that optimize their mission value. If maintained and implemented effectively, these institutional blueprints assist in optimizing the interdependencies and interrelationships among an organization’s business operations and the underlying IT that support operations. In the path to maturity, these interdependencies and interrelationships can b e developed into services provided by IT that both support and protect a business.

The Enterprise Technology Framework, developed by a mature Enterprise Architecture organization, is aligned with the business applications and lifeblood of the organization-data, if the business objectives and benefits are to be realized while at the same time mitigating and helping to eliminate risk.

An Enterprise Technology Framework defines the technology services and functions (IT capabilities) required to support the business applications and data, including Common (or shared) Application Services, Common Data Services, Common System Services, Network Services, Security Services, Platform Services, as well as the management tools used to support the delivery of IT service. It also helps to define the specifics for a line of business that may be required as well, or in the case of a “Software Defined” and enabled hybrid cloud model, what system or application must stay in the datacenter at the corporation (for example, “system of record” vs. what may be hosted in a SaaS or Public Model and also potentially accessed via a “system of engagement” via a mobile device, where data and analysis output can be received). This reference framework can help to define what are private or bounded service definitions, policies, and patterns as well and help to define the policies as in relation to the enterprise for a hybrid cloud delivery model, and how best to access (and secure) structured and unstructured data outside the organization, which is now being captured and delivered via technology sensors and devices across entities, geographies, and even people (i.e via wearable devices)—IoT or the Internet of Things.

Our society is rapidly developing and transforming with the explosion of data and how best to harness it for its full advantage for us as consumers of the data. Enterprise Architecture provides a roadmap for an organization on where to best leverage existing assets for development of services to take advantage of “Big Data” and the IoT, for consumption in the digital emerging society. As such, a well-established Enterprise Technology Framework aligns with an Enterprise Security Architecture Framework to define the guardrails and protection based on regulatory and corporate policy to also help define and further develop the services.

The Enterprise Technology Framework can be used to provide a repository of agreed technology principles, standards, products and components that can be selected at system design time and implemented. It can also be used toprovide a repository of agreed technology principles, standards, products and components that can be selected at system design time and implemented, and provide pre-defined combinations of implementable components, standards and interfaces. Other benefits are:

•Provides a repository of information about the technology (IT enablers and capabilities) required to support both the various parts of the business, and the achievement of the overall business goals and objectives, which guides IT investment decisions.

• Provides a repository of agreed technology principles, standards, products and components that can be selected at system design time and implemented.

• Reduces the amount of time spent by individual development projects in the evaluation and selection of products and components.

• Provides pre-defined combinations of implementable components, standards and interfaces

• Ensures individual systems can be integrated effectively, including the sharing of common services, functions, ‘middleware’ and data.

• Provide a known technology base for service delivery planning (capacity, performance, and availability) and measurement, to meet future business requirements.

• Provides the basis for the specification of the required (to be) IT systems.

• Helps identify, define, and further develop critical and secondary services starting at the end-user access layer:

In conclusion, mature EA helps identify what is required before embarking on large scale journeys into the technical unknown. In the absence of a defined framework of IT enablers, capabilities and requirements, many assumptions and design decisions may be made in a vacuum (especially at the project level). This can greatly increase the risk that the overall business objectives, requirements and expectations may not be met, putting the enterprise at risk, or the enterprise as a whole may miss out on greater opportunities that are only achieved at a project level. The organizations that have a well defined and mature EA leveraging a defined framework are best positioned to embark on the journey to cloud, which will also enable accelerated and secure access to “Big Data” delivered via the Internet of Things.