Enterprise Architecture

Thoughts on developing a strategic plan for implementing EA programs, how to provide your teams with the technical skills needed to implement a service-oriented architecture, understanding what’s involved in creating a business architecture, and more.

Dec 122011
A Focus on Environment — not Enterprise — as the Context for Architecture

I have three related predictions for Enterprise Architects in 2012. Actually they are more like ongoing trends, but they are the ones that I think will be most relevant when making architectural decisions next year. All three could be summarized as a need to focus on environment as context, rather than enterprise. Enterprise Architecture puts IT systems in the context of how IT supports business and management needs, and it places business processes and products in the context of the organizational structure, its strategies and capabilities. But enterprises don’t operate in isolation, and increasingly their architectures need to be defined in the context of the broader environment. I see three reasons for organizations to start Read more

Sep 062011

A value stream depicts how “a business delivers end-to-end stakeholder value.” Because a value stream envisions value delivery across business units, product lines, and even organizational boundaries, value streams provide a way for all stakeholders to perform situation analysis, craft a common strategy, and implement that strategy based on a consensus-based solution. This is an essential planning concept when multiple, fragmented processes slow or hinder the delivery of stakeholder value. Consider, for example, a customer of one set of products or services requesting information about, or help with, a different set of products or services. It is not uncommon to find no recognition that an individual or organization is already a valued customer. Parallel, fragmented Read more

Aug 252011

In the past year, business architecture crossed a major threshold in terms of industry awareness and acceptance. Business architecture is now viewed as an important business discipline that executives should pursue and is being used to enable a variety of business solutions that range from ongoing operational improvements to major transformation scenarios. What about you? Do you have a business architecture story to share? The November 2011 Cutter IT Journal, with Guest Editor William Ulrich, will examine business architecture experiences from the trenches. Proposals of interest are due 9 September 2011. To respond, please visit

Aug 232011

Cloud computing is truly one of the major technology shifts of our era. It’s natural for a technology solution as pervasive and beneficial as cloud computing to be oversold to users with inflated expectations. Industry observers have consistently highlighted the rapid adoption of cloud computing and cloud services by end users, which is driving an explosion of interest within the vendor community.1 Given the conservative growth rates for most software and hardware in our current economy, it’s understandable that the huge growth rate forecast for cloud attracts almost every high-tech vendor. That pervasiveness is hype, but it’s a “good” hype in that critical technologies do emerge as legitimate offerings. Unfortunately, that pervasiveness also means that Read more

Jul 062011

Cutter Consortium recently published the first installment of a 6-part Executive Update series by Cutter Senior Consultant William Ulrich on Business Architecture. In the piece, Business Architecture – Why it Matters to Business Executives, Bill very clearly lays out just how business architecture benefits the business and why business executives need to sponsor business architecture creation and use. If you’re even thinking about stringing the words “business” and “architecture” together, you should read this (and pass it along to your business partners!). In Part II of the series, Bill will discuss how organizations are shifting planning, strategic roadmaps and funding models to a business-based approach through business architecture. Additional topics will include capability and value Read more

Apples and Oranges

 Posted by on May 17, 2011  No Responses »
May 172011

On one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to, someone just posted this discussion item: “Is Open Compute for Everyone? I guess the cloud is no longer technology’s darling. All the IT buzz now surrounds the Open Compute Project. If you are not familiar with the Open Compute Project, take a quick look at You will see that this is really the brainchild of some bright engineers at Facebook, and the results are impressive.” Here’s the comment I posted in reply, and I think I missed several more points in the heat of the moment: “‘The cloud is no longer technology’s darling?’ Nonsense. If you look at the blogs, the conferences, the papers by Read more

Apr 152011
Lessons from la Tour Eiffel

Last week, I was visiting Paris and got the chance to marvel at the Tour Eiffel, one of the world’s most well-known and instantly recognizable structures. I also took the opportunity to learn a bit more about its fascinating history. For example, I learned that the Eiffel Tower is the world’s most visited paid tourist attraction, reaching its 200,000,000th visitor in 2002, and having more than 2.6 million visitors in 2010 alone. Built between 23 January 1887 and 31 March 1889, the tower was constructed for the 1889 Universal Exhibition that was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The exhibition committee solicited designs for a “grand tower” and chose Eiffel’s Read more

Mar 242011

Agile software development and agile project management have shown considerable success in helping organizations develop better software and better manage development projects in the face of changing requirements and evolving technologies. In one sense, agile is about managing rapidly changing project factors and requirements. But enterprises face many other factors that must also be accounted for in project management and development. For example, enterprises need to manage quality, reduce technical debt, and control the total cost of ownership for each individual project. In addition, they need to manage overall IT costs, complexity, and consistency across all projects. These are factors that architecture is in place to address but, unfortunately, these aspects of software engineering and Read more

Feb 222011

Architects face many challenges in their jobs. Among them are creating architecture and applying architecture. I’ve said many times that creating architecture alone does not create value. Rather, the value from architecture comes when it is applied. In other words, value is delivered when architecture is used to influence the outcome of decision making, analysis, design, or implementation. Yet another challenge is that architects are often not the people who are responsible for doing the applying. So we face a conundrum: we don’t create value until someone else uses the architecture. That begs the obvious question of how to get other people to use the architecture. The equation itself is really quite simple: if you Read more

Feb 112011

I was saddened to hear that computer industry pioneer Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), died on Sunday, a few weeks shy of his 85th birthday. Under his 35-year leadership as CEO, Ken Olsen built Digital from US $70,000 in seed money in 1957 to become the world’s second-largest computer company with upwards of $14B in sales and 120,000 employees in more than 95 countries. In 1986, Fortune magazine named Ken “America’s most successful entrepreneur.” Following Ken’s vision, starting with the PDP-1 in the 1960s, Digital created an entirely new segment of the computer industry with its small, powerful, and high-quality “minicomputers.” The minicomputer quickly became an alternative to the multimillion-dollar mainframe and Read more