What is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise Architecture represents a link between the enterprise business and IT strategies and the operational systems being developed and executed in production.

The Business Principles are the most important drives that shape and govern the Enterprise Architecture and Solutions built by delivery projects.
The Architecture Principles concern the Enterprise Architecture and there will be separate architecture principles for each Architecture Domain (e.g. Business Services, Process Architecture, Information Architecture, Application Architecture and Technology Architecture).

The EA Vision is a statement of the primary goals and objectives desired in the future.

Application Development projects are normally aimed at fulfilling the business requirements which are themselves part of the target Operating Model, although some tactical projects may be undertaken.

The Target Enterprise Architecture realises a to-be architecture that embodies the target Operating Model, Business and IT strategies, enterprise vision etc. It represents a bridge between the enterprise vision and the application development projects.
Once the work in an application development projects is completed, the solution architecture becomes part of the overall Current Enterprise Architecture models.

The Purpose of Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture is often misunderstood as the process of designing IT systems.

In fact, Enterprise Architecture is the art/science of "architecting" the enterprise.

It is the process of modelling and documenting all aspects of the organisation (i.e. the enterprise) to ensure that services, processes, applications, information, data, technology, locations, people, events and timelines are all aligned with the enterprise goals and objectives.

Definition of Enterprise Architecture

A definition of Enterprise Architecture is addressed in 2 constituent parts – enterprise and architecture.

The Open Group defines ‘enterprise’ as follows:
An ‘enterprise’ is any collection of organisations that has a common set of goals and/or a single bottom line. In that sense, an enterprise can be a government agency, a whole corporation, a division of a corporation, a single department, or a chain of geographically distant organisations linked together by common ownership.
Gartner define ‘architecture’ as follows;
1. The grand design or overall concept employed in creating a system, as in the architecture of a city or a customer information system; also "an abstraction or design of a system, its structure, components and how they interrelate"
2. A family of guidelines (concepts, policies, principles, rules, patterns, interfaces and standards) to use when building a new IT capability.
Enterprise Architecture is designed to ensure alignment between the business and IT strategies, operating model, guiding principles, and the software development projects and service delivery.

By taking a global, enterprise-wide, perspective across all the business services, business processes, information, applications and technology, Enterprise Architecture ensures the enterprise goals and objectives are addressed in a holistic way across all the application development projects and their deployment into production.

Objectives of Enterprise Architecture

The following are management objectives for the Enterprise Architecture:

  • Help the Enterprise Architecture team to define and explain gaps (between the principles and practice)
  • Help for consistent application design across all delivery projects in the organisation
  • Provide reduction in costs and effort for the delivery projects
  • Help to achieve the organisation's strategies, vision and Target Operating Model
  • Help to communicate the “Big picture” to the Architecture Review Board
  • Provide the flexibility to include new ideas in the future (for example, the introduction of a service oriented architecture approach)
  • Enable faster decision making, avoiding the need for long studies
  • Enable the understanding of strategic versus project deliverables
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