24
Sep
2021

What is Enterprise Architecture and Why It Matters

Organizations continually look for ways to streamline and secure their information technology (IT) infrastructure. After all, when systems or networks fail it severely reduces productivity and revenue. For instance, a random cyberattack on an organization’s IT structure costs them $200,000 on average.

There are ways to prevent these issues as well as maintain a robust IT environment. It’s called enterprise architecture (EA). Here is further information on the concept and why it matters to organizations.

Enterprise Architecture

The Concept Behind Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture is based on the standardization of a company’s IT infrastructure. The goal is to align its systems and purposes with the organization’s larger goals. Through this, the conversion to a digital environment is simpler as is the continuing growth and modernization of its framework.

The ideas behind EA aren’t new. They come from the Business System Planning (BSP) concepts devised by Professor Dewey Walker. One of his students assisted in the development of EA while they both worked at IBM. By the 1980s, Walker’s framework became the standard of IBM architectural design.

Enterprise Architecture In Modern Times

Today, EA goes beyond the scope of IT. Since systems, networks, and mobile devices are now prevalent in work environments, the concept focuses on the business as a whole. It’s most commonly utilized in large organizations as they progress through digital transformations.

Government agencies are also prime candidates for EA. Federal mandates continue to solidify the means and usage of digital frameworks. This helps maximize their productivity and greatly reduces the risk of cyberattacks. Hence, the reason these entities adopt a Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).

A FedRAMP authorized enterprise architecture relies heavily on IT contractors that thoroughly comprehend EA concepts. This is why organizations like Software Government Solutions exist. They provide subject matter experts who understand the current government guidelines and how to efficiently provide them to a federal agency.

The Goals Of Enterprise Architecture

The main goal of EA, according to Professor Walker, is to successfully combine people, technology, and data for a comprehensive view of their inter-relationships. An image of the complete infrastructure is put together through the perspectives of the company owner and the EA engineers. In a way, this is similar in scope to an IT audit, which attempts to view the success and gaps of an IT infrastructure.

While Professor Walker and his student created an EA “playbook” of sorts while at IBM, there isn’t a solid means of formal documentation. Instead, enterprise architecture takes a holistic approach. Considering the number of changes technology goes through in a given year, this concept makes sense. Formal guidelines would need constant updates.

When correctly implemented, An EA strategy considers the newest tech innovations. Then, it examines the company’s specific business processes and organizational structure. From this data, the EA extrapolates which processes should be integrated or removed to enhance proficiency.

Why It Matters

Enterprise architecture matters for several facets of an organization. Primarily, it helps maintain stability during major changes like acquisitions or mergers. Furthermore, EA is also utilized in conjunction with agile development to help release products promptly through small, achievable goals.

Other advantages of EA include:

  • Increased collaboration between the IT team and other departments.
  • It permits a business to prioritize its expenses for future growth.
  • It allows teams to evaluate an existing IT architecture to determine if it fits the company’s long-term goals.
  • It provides technology representatives with ideas to evaluate products and procure ones that will grow with the organization.
  • It helps set a benchmark to compare results against current standards or the operation of other businesses.

Shifting Into A Enterprise Architecture

Entering an EA environment isn’t as simple as adding new servers or upgrading a network. It requires research and planning for today and the future. Normally, this is placed on the shoulders of an enterprise architect. This individual normally reports to an organization’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and respective managers.

The enterprise architect works as a project lead to set the goals required by the company. They assign tasks to IT teams to procure new products, thoroughly test them, then apply the changes efficiently. Furthermore, the enterprise architect determines if the new setup is agile so it’s capable of handling the organization’s growth.

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