Monday, August 29, 2005

The Rise of The Machines: a new approach to Enterprise Architecture

There's already a considerable number of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks around, accompanied by yet a greater number of Enterprise Architecture definitions. Here's one of those: "EA is a tool to find potential savings hidden in organizations". And yet more definitions and frameworks are conceived almost every quarter or so. Last month, I was asked if I would be ready to summarize a brand new Framework from a leading analysts firm.

It reminded me of a similar endeavor I've engaged myself some five years ago, trying to get hold of TOGAF and other federal government agencies books, schemes and diagrams.

There's something in these guides which does not appeal to me. Probably it's in their organized, methodological nature, and their pretended illusion that once you follow their formulas, draw all the diagrams and establish all proposed committees and procedures - life's going to be better. It won't.

Another thing I've never get along with was the deliverables of these endeavors, which usually summed up in a bunch of reference models, and a massive amount of trees turned into papers. Technical Reference Model is a great example I always looked at in an amazement and admiration; another, more popular, is the Systems Architecture Reference, that maps all systems, their inter-relations etc. Most of these references are the outcome of a mapping activity and they simply do not fit with the dynamic reality we live in. If Enterprise IT nowadays is organically similar to the internet, you can understand the futility of a one-time mapping activity. To capture Enterprise IT blueprints, there could be two options: to have google bots constantly crawling the Enterprise; or to build a new kind of architecture for software development and IT operation life-cycle. A unified life-cycle architecture!

So I am not a great fan of architecture committees, guidelines, procedures and mappings – these are all post-mortem, human attempts to take a snapshot of an ever changing reality. The only thing I do believe in (I'm extreme, I'm aware to that…) are the Machines.

I'd argue that humans are incapable of coping with today's Enterprise IT complexity by using guides and procedures. They can conceive and build, though, the Machines that will be able to manage things around.

I'd like, therefore, to suggest the following definition for Enterprise Architecture:

Enterprise Architecture is an infrastructure and a set of Machines constructed in order to manage a chaotic, dynamic, unpredictable, complex, organic, prone to error, frustrating, Enterprise IT, which has to support an ever increasing, dynamic portfolio of products and services, through constant "ASAP, Now, Right-Away" modifications of business processes.

It's with this kind of Enterprise Architecture, that Companies would be able (hopefully) to achieve competitive advantage, increased revenues and operational efficiency. I hope I didn't miss any buzzword.

Do note: procedures and policies should be part of the infrastructures! No papers please! Do not expect humans to read Enterprise Architecture papers, nor to follow them (I hope, though, that they are reading this post :) ).

In my next posts I promise to elaborate.

Fresh Enterprise Architecture documents
waiting to be circulated among IT people

Worried IT people taking the law into their hands


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