Click here to close now.


Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Ian Khan, Jason Bloomberg, Liz McMillan, Anders Wallgren

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 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
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
One of the most important tenets of digital transformation is that it’s customer-driven. In fact, the only reason technology is involved at all is because today’s customers demand technology-based interactions with the companies they do business with. It’s no surprise, therefore, that we at Intellyx agree with Patrick Maes, CTO, ANZ Bank, when he said, “the fundamental element in digital transformation is extreme customer centricity.” So true – but note the insightful twist that Maes adde...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Su...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningf...
This morning on #c9d9 we spoke with two industry veterans and published authors - James DeLuccia and Jonathan McAllister - on how to bake-in security and compliance into your DevOps processes, and how DevOps and automation can essentially help you pass your next audit.
Using any programming framework to the fullest extent possible first requires an understanding of advanced software architecture concepts. While writing a little client-side JavaScript does not necessarily require as much consideration when designing a scalable software architecture, the evolution of tools like Node.js means that you could be facing large code bases that must be easy to maintain.
The annual holiday shopping season, which started on Thanksgiving weekend and runs through the end of December, is undoubtedly the most crucial time of the year for many eCommerce websites, with sales from this period having a dramatic effect on the year-end bottom line. Web performance – or, the overall speed and availability of a website or mobile site – is an issue year-round, but it takes on increased importance during the holidays. Ironically, it is at this time of year that networks and i...
Countless business models have spawned from the IaaS industry – resell Web hosting, blogs, public cloud, and on and on. With the overwhelming amount of tools available to us, it's sometimes easy to overlook that many of them are just new skins of resources we've had for a long time. In his general session at 17th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, an IBM Company, broke down what we have to work with, discussed the benefits and pitfalls and how we can best use them ...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem"...
In today’s pharmaceutical supply chain, counterfeit activity is thriving. As pharma companies have expanded target markets and outsourced production over the last decade, the supply chain has become increasingly global, virtual, and vulnerable. Illicit activity has thrived, and patients have suffered, with hundreds of thousands dying each year from counterfeit and contaminated drugs. More than 40 countries have responded with new laws that regulate prescription medications as they travel throug...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
Naturally, new and exciting technologies and trends like software defined networking, the Internet of Things and the cloud tend to get the lion’s share of attention these days, including when it comes to security. However, it’s important to never forget that at the center of it all is still the enterprise network. And as evidenced by the ever-expanding landslide of data breaches that could have been prevented or at least their impact lessened by better practicing network security basics, it’s ...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNu...
Put the word continuous in front of many things and we help define DevOps: continuous delivery, continuous testing, continuous assessment, and there is more. The next BriefingsDirect DevOps thought leadership discussion explores the concept of continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications and systems. Put the word continuous in front of many things and we help define DevOps: continuous delivery, continuous testing, continuous assessment, and there is more.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facin...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.