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Enterprise Architecture - enabling an effective Business-IT alignment.

In today’s competitive, globalized and an ever evolving business environment, the business leaders have to plan out the forward looking strategies. In order to achieve the desired objectives or future state of the business, it is important to first understand the current state of the technology supporting the business. Enterprise Architecture approach helps to identify the gap between the current and desired future state of the technology to support the business to achieve its objectives. Enterprise Architecture is an approach or an on-going activity to study and analyse the current state of enterprise’s technology and design, plan, implement, monitor and support the future state of the firm’s technology. It applies the architecture principles and practices to enable the organizations to implement the changes across business, information, application and technology perspectives in order to successfully execute the strategies.

The above exhibit shows the 4 main layers of an Enterprise Architecture, namely: Business Architecture, Information Architecture, Application Architecture and Technology Architecture. The business architecture defines the various business processes and activities that an enterprise performs on a day-to-day basis. It also determines the policies and standards the business activities must adhere to. The application architecture defines the structure and behaviour of various custom or commercial off-the shelf (COTS) software applications used by an enterprise to streamline its business activities. Application Architecture is specified based on the business requirements and involves structuring the interaction and integration between various applications, databases and middleware systems. The Information architecture refers to the data generated from the business activities and used by the applications to derive the valuable information and thus to make an informed business decisions. It states the rules and standards that governs which data is collected, how it is stored, processed and utilized in an information system. The fourth main layer of an enterprise architecture is the Technology Architecture. Technology architecture identifies the hardware, operating systems, networking solutions used by an organization. It is the logical design and/or arrangement of the various technologies used by an organization to runs its applications and distribute data. Enterprise Architecture as a field came into existence about 20 years back. Since then, it is rapidly evolving and gaining the importance as a prominent practice to achieve the strategic business objectives. There had been many enterprise architectural methodologies recommended as well as evolved in the last 20 years. The four most practiced Enterprise Architecture methodologies by the IT leaders are:

A) The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architectures

B) The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF)

C) The Federal Enterprise Architecture

D) The Gartner Methodology

Tongue-in-cheek I must say, enterprise architecture approach might be derived out of the divide and conquer approach. First you logically divide the various aspects such as information, applications, processes and technology that drives the business of the enterprise. Next, you conquer it by identifying and implementing the changes/updates when and where required to achieve your forward looking strategies. I will be discussing in detail about Enterprise Architecture methodologies in my later posts. If you have any questions and/or suggestions, please do not hestiate to contact me. Keep checking this space for more interesting topics related to IT and Business world.

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