What is Enterprise Architecture?

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enterprise architecture

A client / friend of mine asked something of me a few months back.  He said Steven:

“how do I go from becoming an engineer to an architect like you?  I’d like to figure out how to take my career to the next level”.

Or something along those lines, I can’t remember the exact quote, but you get the point…

So, what is Enterprise Architecture?  That’s a pretty good question, it’s my job, and honestly, I don’t know if I can give you a solid definition that I really believe in.  However, google provided me with a pretty good answer I found here at techtarget.

“An enterprise architecture (EA) is a conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organization. The intent of an enterprise architecture is to determine how an organization can most effectively achieve its current and future objectives.

This article takes some concepts from Microsoft’s Michael Platt where he states Enterprise Architecture consists of four perspectives:

  1. The Business Perspective
  2. The Application Perspective
  3. The Information Perspective
  4. The Technology Perspective

The article on techtarget is a very short but good read; if you’re new to this concept I would recommend you read it.  In my experience, however I believe that there is certainly a fifth element I would call:

  1. The People Perspective

Maybe more accurately I should call it the “political perspective” …  It’s been my experience over the last 20 years in I.T. that dealing with the political aspect can be just as challenging if not more challenging than dealing with the business, application, information, or technology perspectives.

The reality is that getting the technology right for most applications is straight forward.  Almost every application vendor will give you their recommendations.  Data replication can remain a consistent challenge because there are cases where the speed of light and optical networks are not fast enough, but that’s about the only real technical challenge we can’t overcome.

The real challenge is trying to design a solution that meets the businesses needs that quite frankly doesn’t piss people off.  Technical folks are almost religious about their technology, and quite frankly they shouldn’t be.  Some people LOVE HP, some people LOVE Pure Storage, some people LOVE EMC.  Really does it matter?  Well if you’re a technical architect yes it does, because if you use something someone don’t love they will let you know about it.

Navigating these “political perspectives” can be the most difficult part of the job.  You have to try and convince someone that their personal preference about a storage platform shouldn’t matter, and that’s REALLY FRICKING HARD!

 

Then you have folks that are “on the way out”; I’ve had people tell me to my face:

“Hey, I’m going to retire in four years, so we’re not changing anything until I’m gone.”

In large organizations, these things really do happen!  What should be a very simple design job becomes a political mine field, all while trying to meet the business’s needs at a respectable price point.

What’s my point?  I guess in a way I’m writing this blog for my client and great guy Kevin.  I’ve been wanting to start writing again for some time and he pushed me over the edge.  In this blog, I’m hoping to put down everything I know about Enterprise Architecture, both technically, and inter-personally so that people in his position can learn and grow their careers.

Thanks Kevin for pushing me over the edge to start writing again, and I hope you and everyone like you find this blog helpful.

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