Enterprise Architecture is Dead -- Long Live Enterprise Architecture: Page 2

Datamation columnist Chris Pickering recently wrote that Enterprise Architecture (EA) -- the idea that all IT should be centrally planned from a top-down view -- is a relic of the past. In this response, META Group analyst Robert Handler argues that EA is required now more than ever.
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Now we are in the xWeb era, which is the convergence of computation and communication. Web services and service-oriented architecture are the next big things. In the absence of good enterprise planning and design, how well will we fare when having to expose functions of our applications over the network to customers and trading partners?

EA, the process, is needed now more than ever. It is needed to rationalize the excess of applications that exists in most organizations. It is needed to provide some level of design, governance and control to the digital chaos that exists in many businesses. Why is it that the U.S. Federal Government requires all federal agencies to do EA? For fun? Because there is a surplus of tax dollars that simply must be spent? We have learned over time again that appropriate up-front analysis leads to better design and delivery of change -- change in processes, change in data sets, and change in systems. The U.S. Federal Government requires that all agencies do EA to both enable inter-agency interoperability, and avoid waste.

Service Oriented Architecture, a philosophy of interoperability and reuse, is heavily reliant on EA to assist not just with identification of standards around formats, identifiers, and protocols, but also in assisting with the determination of what will become services and how these services can be combined into composite applications. EA is also required to deal with the multiple levels of metadata that will be required to enable effective service-oriented architectures, including web services.

Certainly EA has changed over the years, in both focus and approach. It is less focused on optimization of hardware assets and more focused on rationalizing and standardizing the existing plethora of IT assets in most organizations to prepare for a future that includes exposing processes and data to a broader audience (e.g., web services), while complying with ever-increasing legislation around those very same processes and data (e.g., Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, etc.).

EA is required now, more than ever. Different techniques and approaches are required to deal with different times, trends and technologies. However, EA as a planning discipline is a mandate. EA is dead! Long live EA!

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