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Why is Enterprise Architecture Dying?

Can Market Forces Redefine the Meaning of EA?

Zachman wrote “This is what is killing Enterprise Architecture” and Sunil starter a discussion on it in Linked iCMG group. The result – 637 comments and counting. It is a lively discussion and could not resist the temptation to summarize it. Though it is a tough ask to summarize 35 pages of heated discussions into one blog post, I am going to be brave enough to try it.

The Starting Point of the Discussion
There is a dilution in the meaning of Enterprise Architecture. The term is loosely used for many IT related activities. Because of this dilution EA is losing its importance and dying.

There was NO disagreement about the proposition that “Enterprise Architecture IS dying”. There was no agreement on any other points. I have picked up points that I thought were most interesting.

  1. EA vs. E (IS) A vs. E (IT) A
  2. Has the term EA been hijacked – if so then should you care?
  3. Did ZF framework originate as Information System framework?
  4. Is TOGAF an EA framework?
  5. Can the market forces redefine the meaning of EA?
  6. Can somebody external to the enterprise play the role of EA?
  7. How to measure success of EA initiative – Are there enough success stories of EA?

Here are the details – what people have said on these points:

1. EA vs. E (IS) A vs. E (IT) A

Kirk Rheinlander: Enterprise architecture has little to do specifically with information technology

“… An Enterprise may elect to use information technology as an implementation option but the Enterprise can also be implemented with pencils, paper and file cabinets…”

“…the purpose of EA is to provide a governance mechanism for executive insight supporting decision making…”

“…What I DISAGREE with is the notion of enterprise architecture as the same thing as this IT architecture role…”

Deepak Berwal: EA definition

“…is the art and science of enterprise design…”

“…the hope for enterprise architecture is that applying systematic rational methods to the design of an enterprise will produce one that more effectively and efficiently pursues its purposes…”

John Gardner, CMC: Goal of EA

“…as per Zachman – the goal of enterprise architecture is to engineer the enterprise so it is as lean as possible and … can dynamically handle the demands upon it…”


Nya Alison Murray: Reverse technical snobbery

“…the concept that there is no need for any technical knowledge of IT to provide enterprise architecture… I think it is disrespect for technical and analytical knowledge of any kind… Do we really have to pretend we are ignorant of all IT disciplines to be respected in business circles…”


2. Has the term EA been hijacked – if so then should you care?

Kirk Rheinlander: Lack of understanding of what EA is

“…if you look at 100 EA jobs on any job board, 99 of them will be IT architects of one flavor or another… this makes it extremely tough for those that have been doing EA for 25+ years to find work, when their job title has been co-opted by techies…”

“…I wonder what a true enterprise architect does to find work…”

“…almost universal lack of understanding of 25 years of EA history (except for a select few EA evangelists that get it) and benefits, are what is killing EA as a profession. EA today, as typically practiced is a pale facsimile of what EA was designed and practiced as….”

“…Most of the people that I know they do EA work that spans the enterprise, and not IT focused, have struggled to find work in recent years…”

Isaka Traore: Enterprise Architecture misperceptions

“…confusion tends to be created by those who use or misuse concepts and frameworks… Zachman … TOGAF and various others give us prescriptive ways of addressing architectural concerns…”

“…the practice largely originated from work and musings by IT minded folks…”

Roy Bynum: Role of IT vendor in this confusion

“… it is the so called IT vendors that have messed up the concept of enterprise level architecture…”

David V. Corbin: Hijacking of the job title

“…do I really care if (the term) EA is hijacked? A resounding YES!…”

“…Titles in (most) other professions [and the debate is still open on if EA is/should be a true "profession"] are very well defined. One cannot simply claim to be an MD, Lawyer, etc…”

David Winders: Hijacking of the job title

“…it causes the meaning of EA to be diluted and misrepresented when people are trying to work towards understanding what it is and to communicating it correctly…”

Jayesh Nazre: Hijacking of the job title

“…is it does not bother me if the Technical Architect title is used by certain individuals who really are product specialist and not Technical Architects…”


3. Did ZF framework originate as Information System framework?

Kirk Rheinlander: Origin of the term EA

“…Zachman coined the term Enterprise Architecture in a published paper in 1987, although I believe Banning was already using that term inside GE prior to that point…”

Graham Berrisford: Origin of the term EA

“…For many years, John Zachman said his framework was for Information Systems Architecture. The framework has changed little since then – even though John Zachman later coined the term Enterprise Architecture – probably after the Clinger Cohen Act (1996) – which refers only to IT Architecture – does not mention Enterprise Architecture at all…”

“…The paper you quote is on the internet – A framework for information systems architecture, IBM SYSTEMS JOURNAL, VOL 26. NO 3. 1987. The abstract says “This paper defines information systems architecture by creating a descriptive framework. Please read the paper and tell me where it mentions enterprise architecture…”

“…There is a lot of wishful thinking in this discussion. Whether you like it or not – out there in the market place – EA remains rooted in thinking about IS and IT – because that is where it (mostly) started. Let’s get our facts straight. Today’s best-known EA frameworks did not start out as EA frameworks. They have their roots in thinking about Information Systems – rather than Information Technologies…”

Alan Dyer: Origin of the term EA

“…Zachman used the term EA in relation to the ZF around 1996 in a series of three papers…”

Nic Harvard: BPR and EA

“…BPR was not a world away from what we now term EA, and a lot of people in these forums have seen great concepts crash and burn by being hijacked in various ways…”

“…Speak to any 55-year old+ CIO / CFO / CEO about BPR however, and he will have security escort you out the building in 5 minutes flat…”


4. Is TOGAF an EA framework?

Ron Segal: NO

“…TOGAF’s pedigree is technical architecture, it has shifted towards a more modern, business driven approach, but the whole thrust remains IT architecture…”

Kirk Rheinlander: NO

“…TOGAF is IT architecture, not Enterprise Architecture – they got it wrong, and they continue to perpetuate the myth…”


“…TOGAF is a comprehensive framework for enterprise architecture, i.e. it is NOT only Information System Architecture… The artifacts produced so far in TOGAF belong to first four rows of Zachman EA classification framework…”

Van Luu: YES

“…all the questions raised here have associated answers in TOGAF…”


5. Can the market forces redefine the meaning of EA?

Kirk Rheinlander: IT folks messed it up

“…we already HAD the EA demand and market well defined, until the IT and software people decided that they could abscond with the title, probably out of ignorance…”

Jayesh Nazre: Market will drive the demand

“…The market will drive the demand and the need. That’s why you see 99% of the jobs with IT as a focus…”

Donald Tiffany Jr.: Who defines the term?

“…the truth is that Oracle (Sun, BEA etc), Microsoft, and IBM along with government bureaucracies and other large contractors will define EA, are defining it…”

“…the market is not demanding the chief architect of architects, the CEO’s right hand man above all his VPs, it is a fantasy…”

Sanjib Talukdar: Understanding need for EA

“…As long as the business side of an enterprise does not realize that a UNIFIED long term view [including business strategy and IT strategy] of the Enterprise should be defined and then enforced through flexible governance, Enterprise Architecture will always be a mirage…”

Mark Brennan: Need to evolve

“…A discipline always needs to steer a good course between evolved theory, where ideal scenarios play out to a best case ROI, and the real world constraints of time, budget, competing imperatives…”

“…The end product – though forever evolving and iterative – must be perceived as effective, fluid, intuitive and “made for humans”…”


6. Can somebody external to the enterprise play the role of EA?

Roy Bynum: Skill vs. Talent

“…Whether Enterprise Architect refers to a Business process architect, or an Information process is somewhat irrelevant if your target customer base does not understand that what he is looking for is talent and not necessarily someone who knows a methodology…”

Donald Tiffany Jr.: Skill vs. Talent

“…Individuals that fill these roles well don’t really fit into the mold of one discipline… most only fill these roles at a single organization for a temporary period…”

Donald Tiffany Jr.: Enterprise Architects within the business

“…instead of trying to have the Enterprise Architect supplant existing enterprise roles that already hold the types of responsibilities that many here assign to Enterprise Architect in its broadest definition, we should instead try to incorporate these high level approaches and principles into those other disciplines from which those other roles spring…”

“…The CEOs and Board of Directors out there, I don’t think want to or feel the need to be replaced by EAs and their formal systematic approaches. That is one of the reasons why I think EA has been redefined over the years…”


7. How to measure success of EA initiative – Are there enough success stories of EA?

Kirk Rheinlander: Yes, it has worked in the past

“…There is no role in a corporation that has nearly the impact of the EA – not even the President. An effective EA influences everything, changes everything, and, in the end, makes a major difference. I do love it, and miss the role dearly, but in the end, the overwhelming IT bastardization of the term, won out. Eating became more important than my ideals, however noble…”

Donald Tiffany Jr.: If EA was so successful then why no demand?

“…If EAs were so successful at improving enterprises in their roles at the highest levels with the broadest scope in terms of their responsibility, then why are they not hired for this purpose as a first matter of course by every enterprise in existence…”

Ron Segal: Lack of measure

“…what is the definition of a – successfully implemented enterprise architecture – How do you recognize one…”

David V. Corbin: Measurability

“…lack of measurability and metrics is major issue…”

“…it is very difficult to establish something that applies well to an automated manufacturing facility for retail products (hundreds of products/customers, very little innovation) and also applies to something extremely specialized such as development of space borne systems (single product/customer, very little “off-the-shelf”)…”

Mark Brennan: 2.0 Enterprise

“…I provide my customers verifiable goals, metrics and milestones in the evolution toward a 2.0 enterprise, capable of covering so much more ground with the same number of people, than a traditional legacy enterprise. 
If my stuff only runs on diagrams, it’s a FAIL. My stuff runs in the real world, and it is judged daily by some very hands-on business leaders…”

Steve Towers : Sustainable results

“…If we all focus on sustainable results we will justify the investment and help move EA to a new level…”

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting

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