Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Mehdi Daoudi, Pat Romanski, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

The State of Enterprise Architecture

Vast promise or lost opportunity?

Coming to you from The Open Group’s Security Practitioners Conference in Boston, we’ve assembled a panel this week to delve into the advancing role and powerful potential for enterprise architecture (EA).

The economy’s grip on IT budgets, and the fast changing sourcing models like cloud computing, are pointing to a reckoning for EA -- of now defining a vast new promise for IT business alignment improvement or, conversely, a potentially costly lost opportunity.

The need for EA seems to be more pressing than ever, yet efforts to professionalize EA do not necessarily lead to increased credibility and adoption, at least not yet.

We’ll examine the shift of IT from mysterious art to more engineered science and how enterprise architects face the unique opportunity to usher in the concept of business architecture and increased business agility.

Here to help us better understanding the dynamic role of EA, we're joined by Jeanne Ross, Director and Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research and noted author; Dave Hornford, an architecture practice principal at Integritas Solutions, as well as the Chairman of The Open Group Architecture Forum, and Len Fehskens, Vice President for Skills and Capabilities at The Open Group. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Fehskens: [Enterprise architecture] is really just a gleam in many people’s eye at this point. If you look at the discipline of EA and compare it to mature professions like law and medicine, we’re back 200-300 years ago. We’ve been doing a lot of research recently into the professionalization of other disciplines.

Most of the people studying the subject come up with a fairly short list of characteristics of professions. They usually include things like a well-defined body of knowledge, and well-defined educational program and particular degree programs, often offered by schools that are specifically focused on the discipline, not just the department within a larger organization.

There's some kind of professional certification or vetting process and often even some kind of legal sanction, a right to practice or right to bear the title. We don’t have any of those things right now for EA.

Proprietary knowledge

The body of knowledge is widely distributed and is largely proprietary. We’re at a state similar to going to a lawyer, and the lawyers try to sell themselves based on secret processes that only they had that would allow you to get a fair shake before a judge. Or similar thing with a doctor, who would say, "Come to this hospital, because we’re the only people who know how to do this particular kind of procedure."

So, we’ve got a long way to go. The big thing we’ve got going for us is that, as Jeanne pointed out, the stakes are high and so many organizations are becoming dependent upon the competent practice of EA as a discipline.

There's a lot of energy in the system to move forward very quickly on the professionalization of the discipline, and in addition to take advantage of what we’ve learned from watching the professionalization of disciplines like law, medicine, engineering, civil architecture, etc. We’ve got long ways to go, but we are running really hard to make some progress.

Ross: The stakes are high, because organizations are becoming more digital out of necessity. It’s a more digital economy. Thus, IT is more strategic. I think people see that, but outside of people who have already embraced architecture, there is some reluctance to think that the way we get more value from IT is basically by taming it, by establishing a vision and building to standards and understanding how that relates back to new ways of doing business, and actually developing standards around business processes and around data.

... The architect’s role is to make sure that there is a vision. You may have to help provide that vision as to what that process is, and how it fits into a bigger vision. So there is a lot of negotiation and envisioning that becomes part of an architect’s role that is above and beyond just the technology piece and the methodology that we’ve worked so hard at in terms of developing the discipline.

... We’ve learned a lot about methodologies, disciplines, and tools, but there is an art to be able to take the long-term vision for an organization and not just say, "It’ll come guys, be patient," but rather, "I understand that starting tomorrow, we need to begin generating value from more disciplined processes."

... There is a piece of it that’s just not appealing [across the organization]. Besides, we feel like this should all be about innovation, which should be all exciting stuff. Architecture just doesn’t have the right feel for a lot of businesspeople.

Hornford: The stakes are high in the sense that should someone in your industry figure this out, they will change the game on you, and you will now be in a serious trouble. As long as all of your competition is struggling as long as you are, you’re okay. It’s when someone figures it out that they will change the game.

Where people are doing it well is where they are focused on business value. The question of what is business value is highly dependent. People will mention a term, “agility.” I work with a mining company. They define agility as the ability to disassemble their business. They have a mine. Someone buys the mine. We need to remove the mine from the business. A different organization will define agility a different way, but underpinning all of that is what is the business trying to achieve? What is their vision and what is their goal?

Practitioners who are pursuing this have to be very clear on what is the end state, what is the goal, what is the business transformation, and how will the digital assets of the corporation the IT asset actually enable where they’re going, so that they’re able to move themselves to a target more effectively than their competition.

... The fundamental with leadership in EA is that architects don’t own things. They are not responsible for the business processes. They are not responsible for the sales results. They are responsible for leading a group of people to that transformation, to that happy place, or to the end-state that you're trying to achieve.

If you don't have good leadership skills, the rest of it fundamentally doesn’t matter. You’ll be sitting back and saying, "Well, if I only had a hammer. If I only had authority, I could make people do things." Well, if you have that authority, you would be the general manager. You’d be the COO. They're looking for someone to assist them in areas of the business at times that they can't be there.

... If you do not lead and do not take the risk to lead, the transformation won’t occur. One of the barriers for the profession today is that many architects are not prepared to take the risk of leadership.

Fehskens: A phrase that you’ll hear architects use a lot is "compelling value proposition." The authority of an architect ultimately comes from their ability to articulate a compelling value proposition for architecture in general, for specific architect in a specific situation. Even if you have a compelling value proposition and it falls on deaf ears, for whatever reason, that’s the end of the road.

There isn’t any place you can go, because the only leverage an architect has is the ability to articulate a compelling value proposition that says, "I’ve recognized this. I acknowledge this is promise, but here’s why you have reason to believe that I can actually deliver on this and that when I have delivered on this, this thing itself will deliver these promised benefits."

But, you have to be able to make that argument and you have to be able to do it in the language of the audience that you're speaking to. This is probably one of the biggest problems that architects coming from a technical background have. They'll tell you about features and functions but never get around talking about benefits.

... Architects are ultimately charged with making sure that whatever it is that they're architecting is fit for purpose. Fitness for purpose involves not doing any more than you absolutely have to. ... The architect’s approach to dealing with the architectural way of problem solving means that agility and cost cutting sort of are not short-term focuses. They are just built into the idea of why we do architecture in the first place.

... My experience with businesspeople is they don’t really care how you do something. All they care is what results you're going to produce. What you do is just a black box. All they care about is whether or not the black box delivers all the promises that it made.

To convince somebody that you can actually do this, that the black box will actually solve this problem without going into the details of the intricacies and sort of trying to prove that if I just show you how it works then you’ll obviously come to the conclusion that it will do what I promise, you can’t do that that. For most audiences that just doesn’t work. That’s probably one of the most fundamental skills that architects need in order to work through this problem -- getting people to buy into what they are trying to sell.

The thing to recognize about business agility is that it’s a journey. You don’t want to start making your compelling business values something you can't deliver for three years.



Ross: The thing to recognize about business agility is that it’s a journey. You don’t want to start making your compelling business values something you can't deliver for three years. Many times the path to agility is through risk management, where you can demonstrate the ability of the IT unit to reduce downtime to increase security or lower cost. The IT unit can often find ways to lower IT cost or to lower operational cost through IT.

So, many times, the compelling value proposition for agility is down the road. We've already learned how to save money. Then, it’s an easier sell to say, "Oh, you know, we haven’t used IT all that well in the past, but now we can make you more agile." I just don’t think anybody is going to buy it.

It’s a matter of taking it a step at a time, showing the organization what IT can help them do, and then, over time, there's this natural transition. In fact, I'm guessing a lot of organizations say, "Look, we're more agile than we used to be." It wasn’t because they said they were going to be agile, but rather because they said they were going to keep doing things better day after day.

Hornford: If we're going to look at our sourcing options, using the word "component" as opposed to "platform," I can acquire a benefit. I can acquire a benefits engine as a service or I can build my own and manage my own processes, whether fully manual or digitized. Those choices come down to my value in the business.

Different organizations will have different things that matter to them. They will structure and compose their businesses for a different value chain for a different value proposition to their customers.

If we get back to the core of what an architect has to deliver, it’s understanding what is the business’s value, where are we delivering value to my customers?

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
Most of the time there is a lot of work involved to move to the cloud, and most of that isn't really related to AWS or Azure or Google Cloud. Before we talk about public cloud vendors and DevOps tools, there are usually several technical and non-technical challenges that are connected to it and that every company needs to solve to move to the cloud. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Stefano Bellasio, CEO and founder of Cloud Academy Inc., will discuss what the tools, disciplines, and cultural...
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
With the rise of DevOps, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in Enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery for the business. When it comes to adopting containers in the enterprise, security is the highest adoption barrier. Is your organization ready to address the security risks with containers for your DevOps environment? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Van Tuin, Chief Technologist, NA West at Red Hat, will discuss: The top security r...
‘Trend’ is a pretty common business term, but its definition tends to vary by industry. In performance monitoring, trend, or trend shift, is a key metric that is used to indicate change. Change is inevitable. Today’s websites must frequently update and change to keep up with competition and attract new users, but such changes can have a negative impact on the user experience if not managed properly. The dynamic nature of the Internet makes it necessary to constantly monitor different metrics. O...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
The nature of the technology business is forward-thinking. It focuses on the future and what’s coming next. Innovations and creativity in our world of software development strive to improve the status quo and increase customer satisfaction through speed and increased connectivity. Yet, while it's exciting to see enterprises embrace new ways of thinking and advance their processes with cutting edge technology, it rarely happens rapidly or even simultaneously across all industries.
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
These days, APIs have become an integral part of the digital transformation journey for all enterprises. Every digital innovation story is connected to APIs . But have you ever pondered over to know what are the source of these APIs? Let me explain - APIs sources can be varied, internal or external, solving different purposes, but mostly categorized into the following two categories. Data lakes is a term used to represent disconnected but relevant data that are used by various business units wit...
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
Many organizations adopt DevOps to reduce cycle times and deliver software faster; some take on DevOps to drive higher quality and better end-user experience; others look to DevOps for a clearer line-of-sight to customers to drive better business impacts. In truth, these three foundations go together. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 21st Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, industry experts will discuss how leading organizations build application success from all...
The last two years has seen discussions about cloud computing evolve from the public / private / hybrid split to the reality that most enterprises will be creating a complex, multi-cloud strategy. Companies are wary of committing all of their resources to a single cloud, and instead are choosing to spread the risk – and the benefits – of cloud computing across multiple providers and internal infrastructures, as they follow their business needs. Will this approach be successful? How large is the ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
One of the biggest challenges with adopting a DevOps mentality is: new applications are easily adapted to cloud-native, microservice-based, or containerized architectures - they can be built for them - but old applications need complex refactoring. On the other hand, these new technologies can require relearning or adapting new, oftentimes more complex, methodologies and tools to be ready for production. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, Solutions Marketi...
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Today companies are looking to achieve cloud-first digital agility to reduce time-to-market, optimize utilization of resources, and rapidly deliver disruptive business solutions. However, leveraging the benefits of cloud deployments can be complicated for companies with extensive legacy computing environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, founder and CEO of Metavine, will outline the challenges enterprises face in migrating legacy solutions to the cloud. He will also prese...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...