Sunday, May 1, 2016

Enterprise Architecture


Enterprise Architecture (EA) is the process of developing enterprise IT architecture’s description and implementation. The description focuses on a holistic and integrated view of the why, where, and who uses IT systems, how and what they are used for within an organization. The implementation develops the strategy and enables the decisions for designing, developing, and deploying IT systems to support the business operations as well as to assess, select, and integrate the technology into the organization’s infrastructure.

EA main components

Enterprise Architecture is the unifying logic for an organization core business processes and IT capabilities captured in a set of main correlated architectural modules such as
  • Business Architecture which covers the organization’s structure, objectives, processes, roles and projects;
  • Application Architecture which includes applications and interactions in between; 
  • Data Architecture which handles data, data flows and data access;
  • Technical Architecture which consist of hardware, software, systems, networks and IT platforms.
An IT system is composed by software and hardware, while the software includes programs, libraries and data which are translated into operating systems, drivers, APIs, applications and databases...etc., the hardware is the physical parts that forms a computer (e.g. motherboard, CPU, monitor, hard disk, memory...etc.).

An operating system (OS) such as OS X, Linux, Windows, Android and iOS is a component of system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides common services for computer programs which usually require an operating system to execute and operate on top of it.

A network such as the Internet allows computers (as network nodes) to exchange data via network devices (e.g. interfaces, switches, routers, firewalls), over communication links and mediums (i.e. cable or wireless), laid out following specific topologies (e.g. line, ring, star, mesh), which is geographically scaled (e.g. using LAN, MAN or WAN), carried out using certain protocols (i.e. TCP/IP) and caries various applications (e.g. web, email, audio and video).

An IT platform is a collection of physical or virtual resources (e.g. servers, storage, networks) that supports an overall IT environment established to capture, generate, process, transmit, present and store information. The IT platform can be formed within a single mainframe, or composed by several resources unified altogether as a single entity (e.g. middleware) in a centralized location (e.g. datacenter), or formed by decentralized components remotely interconnected (e.g. cloud computing or platform as a service).

IT platform hosts wide range of business applications such as
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), 
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM); 
  • Human Resource Management (HRM); and 
  • Project management. 
These applications can be internally accessible within the organization premises, or externally reachable using VPN connections from users using various endpoint devices such as PCs, laptops, tablets or smartphones.

Energy related supplies and utilities such as power supply, power generators, UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) and air purifying are critical auxiliary assets that support the overall IT infrastructure.

Challenges in maintaining EA

Enterprise Architecture is a quarter-century concept created to align with business objectives to tackle the increasing complexity of IT systems on top of following traditional issues:
  • Lack of support and commitment from stakeholders
  • Absence of communication channels, reporting and awareness;
  • Shortage of skilled and experienced talented;
  • Incompatibility of outdated standards;
  • Inapplicability of available frameworks; 
  • Nonexistence of measurement and performance metrics…etc.
Even though, the same old issues still persist today and enlarged by the accelerating pace of emerging technologies, alignment between business and IT, besides the required talent, cost and time to put in place such concept represent the organization’s top issues in establishing a mature Enterprise Architecture.

Enterprise Architecture is often wrongfully translated to the practice of documenting the organization’s IT infrastructure and spending all the efforts applying a framework instead of solving real problems, and carrying out business changes by constantly transforming organization’s structure and behavior within a complex environment.

An Enterprise Architecture can be exposed to wide range of risks such as for instance
  • Obsolete hardware or software;
  • Equipment or application failure or malfunction;
  • Non-redundancy of services or links;
  • Unpatched vulnerabilities;
  • Misconfigured devices or settings;
  • Unlogged and untraced events;
  • Default security passwords; 
  • Poor network cabling;
  • Wireless signal interference;
  • Unprotected wireless access points;
  • Power outages;
  • Poor maintenance or maintenance fault; and 
  • Unsecured facilities...etc.
Since the IT system of an Enterprise Architecture is an interrelated set of components connected to each other; an adverse risk related to an IT subsystem can disturb the overall IT system. Hence, the risk assessment of the entire system should be established by assessing the threats, vulnerabilities and impacts related to each subsystem and component.

EA frameworks

An Enterprise Architecture Framework describes how to build and use an Enterprise Architecture by providing a set of principles, practices and tools to manage the complexity and scalability of IT systems and producing valuable description documentation.

There are countless Enterprise Architecture frameworks, some of them focus on modeling existing organization infrastructure, others focus on solving business issues. While some of the frameworks are proprietary, others are open source, certain frameworks were developed by either specialized groups, government or defense organizations. Below some of leading methodologies
As these frameworks very different in their nature and approach; the appropriate framework should be selected and used based on the organization’s criteria.


Enterprise Architecture is a conceptual blueprint for business processes and IT system that defines the structure and operation of an organization which intended to determine the most effective ways to achieve the current and future objectives.

The Enterprise Architecture can be seen as the well-defined set of practices for conducing organization’s mission in achieving its strategic objectives, improving decision making, adapting to market trends, creating value and realizing benefits while maintaining optimal levels of risks and use of resources.

In regard to risk management, Enterprise Architecture contributes to reduction of business risks from system failures, security breaches and reduces project delivery risks.

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