I'm going to scribble down some definitions and concepts that will serve as the foundation for this series of posts I'll be publishing here. Many people frequently ask about Enterprise Architecture. For example, What is architecture? And the most frequently asked question is, "What is enterprise architecture?"
Assume you would like to build a new house. So where would you kick it started? Most likely, an architect should be the first person to contact. An architect would ask you probing questions over what you require, desire, and wish for. The architect may also inquire about your constraints, such as budget and time. The architect will then sketch multiple conceptual drawings of your home and continue to tweak them until they are right for you. In addition to academic knowledge and professional experience, the architect you are dealing with is most likely following a set of patterns, techniques, and/or frameworks. In IT context, TOGAF® is one of those frameworks that aids in the establishment of Enterprise Architecture and maturing it through time. So, let's define some terminologies, concepts and basics.
Throughout this analogy, your architect will collaboratively sketch is a “blueprint” that contains more information about your home. Such as the materials to be used and some infrastructure details. A blueprint usually describes how to construct a house. My statement is really about the role of the architect and how the work of an architect can provide assurance about quality and accuracy and completeness of construction in this context.
Target State Architecture
Blueprints tend to show what the finished house will appear, which is what enterprise architecture refers to as target states. In our house analogy, arranging the goods may be one target state, building infrastructures like water pipes and cabling could be another target state, and so forth. All the aforementioned instructions for putting everything together should be included in the blueprint, and if you ever want to expand your house’s buildup in the future, you will have the initial blueprint as your beginning point. This is what architects call the "current state". It is good to know that the transition from current state to target state will continue until the house is completed as you aimed for.
The current state of an enterprise is frequently scattered and siloed. It'd be like having a house with all of the piping and wiring just lying around. The reality is that this is how several companies are. They have scattered processes and operating units that work in silos, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the business to achieve its goals and objectives.
Transition Architecture & Roadmap
An Enterprise Architect (EA) works with architects’ workgroups and needs to comprehends the business's strategy. Then EA will hand holds the teams through the lower-level architectural processes. Furthermore, EA keep oneself fully updated on the enterprise's current state architecture. Architectural techniques iteratively (due to the dynamic nature of business) evaluate and construct gradual target architectures which are aligned with the business vision, mission, objectives, as well as external and internal factors such as governance and standards. Then, through a series of transition architectures that are part of an architectural roadmap, EA will focus on closing the gap between the current state and the target state. This is the "roadmap" that will lead the enterprise to the next target point.
Okay now let’s get back to the basics and agree on organization definition. An organization is essentially a group of people who share a common goal and set of objectives that are centered on a business need.
What is an Enterprise?
Using the organization definition, an enterprise is a collection of organizations that share a common set of goals and are not limited by corporate boundaries. Based on TOGAF definition an Enterprise is
The highest level of description of an organization and typically covers all missions and functions. An enterprise will often span multiple organizations.
In an enterprise, there are a huge number of moving parts which often are complex. Each enterprise has been composed of a variety of tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets include, but are not limited to, products, technology, cash, people, and premises, whereas intangible assets are frequently represented in process, knowledge, or skillset formats, all of which work together to ultimately fulfil some set of value propositions with the goal of producing some revenue.
It goes without saying that an enterprise's assets are forever evolving in response to customer needs possibly the business units' strategies. When these change, it creates a healthy sort of chaos that can drive innovation, especially if your enterprise culture recognizes the value of change.
What is Architecture?
TOGAF defines architecture in a couple of ways.
A formal description of a system or a detailed plan of the system at component level to guide its implementation.
The structure of components there in a relationship and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time.
An architecture is essentially a blueprint as to what a system could perhaps look like once it is functional. Architecture, is not concerned with the smallest details of how a system is organized and constructed. It is more concerned with the core ideas or characteristics which can be noticed in systems, elements in their relationships to one another, and the environment.
There are numerous definitions but think of it as a blueprint for a business. Though, I like this definition more:
A conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organization. The intent of the enterprise architectures is to determine how an organization can most effectively achieve its current and future objectives
Or Gartner defines it as:
Enterprise architecture (EA) is a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes. EA delivers value by presenting business and IT leaders with signature-ready recommendations for adjusting policies and projects to achieve targeted business outcomes that capitalize on relevant business disruptions.
Consider enterprise architecture to be a set of best practices for doing enterprise assessment, design, planning, and execution. To help streamline the preceding statement for the successful development and execution of the strategy, EA always employs a comprehensive approach. And according to TOGAF
Enterprise Architectures is the structure of components there in a relationship and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time
EA is a visual representation of current and a desired future state, with very rational definition, collective, and actionable.
Simply put, EA will assist enterprises in more effectively reacting and taking advantage of constantly changing technological capabilities. Furthermore, it will assist enterprises in ensuring that operational activities are in line with the enterprise's vision.
You may notice that the enterprises are very siloed. I assume this is due to business policies that gave the business units the authority to authorize their own changes without regard for the larger picture. It's a common occurrence (hairball architecture), and the results are a slew of slight as well as completely irrelevant decisions and actions, along with widespread blaming culture. EA and its methodologies arose in response to situations like this, ultimately assisting business operations in becoming more effective and efficient.
Architectural Building Blocks
Architectural Building Blocks are a notion used by enterprise architects which are functional bundles. Building blocks are used by architects to build the architectural landscape to solve particular problems. Before defining what all those building blocks are, an architect should always first have a concise understanding of the business requirements. Various building blocks often would be used to facilitate systems in an enterprise. The building blocks will be organized into categories such as applications, data, technology, and all would be mapped to business entities and policies or business area of interest.
Architects get the freedom to concentrate on particular areas of demands. This splendid concept (building blocks) motivates scalability and asset re-usability.
A building block can be defined to meet the needs of multiple organizations. The blueprint, in house analogy, needed to define the plumbing, electricity, carpentry, flooring and so on. Similarly, an enterprise's architecture must characterize the functionality and integration of applications, business, data, and technology, among other components which operate in the enterprise.
Enterprise Architect Frameworks
Another phrase we may need to define is Enterprise Architect Framework. Which is essentially a series of guidelines for constructing multiple kinds of architectures. Those architectures would likely include the business architectures, data architectures, application, and technology architectures. It assembles the architect's mindset by splitting the architecture description into domains, layers, or views, and it provides models in the form of matrices and diagrams. This enables structural design changes to all system components as well as long-term decisions about new design requirements, sustainability, and support. An EA Framework should include a list of compliant products and approved standards which can be used to implement the building blocks. It should also describe an approach for designing a target state of the enterprise in consists of a series of building blocks and showing how well the building blocks integrate. Not to note the importance of including in the framework a set of tools and a common language.
A sound EA Framework fosters an organizational climate in which individuals think and act independently while working together to achieve common goals. As a result, frameworks must restore order, orientation, and consistency to overly complex systems, allowing an enterprise to characterize its culture, events, technologies, processes, organizational structure, and needed qualifications for attaining the business's aspiration.
In other words, EA Frameworks specifying processes, concepts, methods, and the language of an enterprise architecture's domain, allowing all stakeholders to identify and interpret it consistently. (Which is the value preposition of an EA Framework)
EA Framework “usually” offers various templates that can be adapted to a variety of types of enterprises.
Generalizing to TOGAF
EA addresses enterprise complexity on multiple levels and cuts down complexity by dividing enterprise business data systems and IT into logical but interconnected components. It also, provides stakeholders with a comprehensive view of how activities, processes, and technology all interact across the enterprise's organizations.
Architectural partitions are one sort of dividing and conquering. Consider a partition to be the enterprise's layer of abstraction. TOGAF defines partitions using three levels of abstraction: the entire enterprise, which is known as the strategic partition, business units, and the capability level, which is the lowest level.
TOGAF specifies additional divisions known as architecture domains within each of these partitions. TOGAF categorizes each partition into four architectural domains: business, data, applications, and technology which are constructed into to the architectural stream and will aid in the formation and upkeep of enterprise architectures.
Main Areas of Architects’ Concerns
Architects are generally focused on two key areas of supervision and control, which are Vision and Stakeholder, in that order. Let’s have a review on their definition too.
Architectural vision is a strategic view of the enterprise architecture's target state. It is aligned with the strategic vision of business.
A stakeholder is anyone who is impacted by or has an interest in the outcome of a business initiative. Stakeholder concerns are actually a bunch of various operational and tactical factors and objectives corelated with transitioning from current state to a target state. We are talking about some factors like operational and commercial risk, preferences, business pain points, suggested improvements, transitional concerns, and so on.
Now we’re set for couple of more useful concepts.
Architecture View and Viewpoint
TOGAF, defines the Architecture View as below:
A representation of a system from the perspective of a related set of concerns.
While viewpoints depict an aspect or a perspective, they are articulated through views. Views represent the architecture from a particular viewpoint and minimize architecture complexity by breaking down enterprise business, data, systems, and IT into perfectly rational but nevertheless interconnected components that are customized to a specific audience.
This entails providing architecture, work products, and results to stakeholders that portray their standpoint and identify areas of interest to which stakeholders can relate. Think of a blueprint of a house, there are many viewpoints from electrician, plumber, carpenter, and owner.
TOGAF defines an architectural deliverable as
A work product that is contractually specified and in turn, formally reviewed, agreed and signed off by the stakeholders
Architectural Deliverables are signed and agreed work products which might define one or even more views which it represents one or more architectural building blocks and their relationships. Deliverables represent the output of projects. Views and deliverables are built with a variety of architectural artefacts, that are traditionally classified as catalogues, diagrams, or matrices.
Putting All Together
We stated that
- though viewpoints portray an angle, it is expressed through views,
- views represent architecture from a specific viewpoint,
- and views realize architectural representations that are customized to a particular audience.
Based on that we can expand a bit further. Because the architecture landscape is made up of components, we refer to architectural building blocks. A given building block may be formed by two different stakeholders mostly through viewpoints customized for their requirements. Viewpoints are expressed through the various views, which seem to be essentially a set of various artefacts. Also, as previously stated, artefacts can be catalogues, matrices, or diagrams:
Read about TOGAF ADM Here.
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