Why is Enterprise Architecture Important?
The most critical issue facing Government, Defense and Commercial enterprises today is the rapid pace of change in almost every industry. With the rate of technological change increasing, together
with today’s budget and competitive pressures, enterprises must be able to change rapidly … often just to survive – let alone succeed.
The need for transformation from today’s inflexible business environment to an agile enterprise that can change direction rapidly has never been greater. Yet the structures, processes and systems
that we have today are inflexible: they are incapable of rapid change. More computer hardware, or software, or packages, or staff, or outsourcing are not the solution. They are part of the problem.
The solution needs methods for rapid business change – with systems that also change in lock-step. This is not a computer problem. It is a business problem. It needs strategic direction from senior
management and strategic planners, with these directions then translated into rapid action by business experts working with IT experts.
The solution needs skills that enable senior managers, together with their planners, business managers, business experts and IT staff to work together to determine how to transform your enterprise
– as each group has its specific expertise to contribute.
The methods to achieve this are being successfully applied by many enterprises today. As we will see in case studies over the coming months, these methods require new thinking. The tried and true
ways no longer work. We need new ways to make the required business transformations.
Our current systems development methods have served us well in building, analyzing and drilling down through existing data resources with data warehouses, using OLAP and data mining tools. They
have also served us well in developing operational information systems in the period of managed change that we had up until the 90s. But now the pace of change is much, much faster than we ever
anticipated when those systems and data warehouses were first built.
Historically these systems and warehouses have been difficult to change. The systems and databases that we built in the early years of the Information Age to enable our organizations to be more
responsive to change are now monolithic and resistant to change. Today, they inhibit the ability of our organizations to change rapidly in order to compete … sometimes even to survive. We are
chained to inflexible systems that can no longer respond to the rapid change environment of today – let alone the even greater change environment that we will soon find ourselves in tomorrow.
We need to build more flexible systems for the future that can change easily, rapidly, and often. To achieve this, the systems development methods that we use should take a different focus for the
future. They must be able to identify potential future changes early. We must also build systems and databases differently … so that they can be changed rapidly to support vital business changes.
These changes must be capable of being made within weeks, even days – not in years as is the case today.
I will discuss some of the reasons for the dilemma that most enterprises find themselves in today:
Systems Development for the 21st Century Enterprise
Our systems development methods have served us well so far, but we have now reached a point where we need to decide whether to take a different focus for the future of the 21st Century Enterprise.
The Need for Business Transformation Enablement
There are fundamental issues that we need to address in the enterprise. An understanding of these will help us to determine whether the enterprise needs to be transformed, and if so … how to
achieve this transformation.
Enterprise Architecture Concepts
I will discuss the concepts and methods of Enterprise Architecture and we will see how this discipline can assist business and IT in deciding how to go about business transformation.
Systems Development for the 21st Century Enterprise
I will first discuss some typical systems development problems. The approach used to design and build enterprise systems with traditional systems development methods is summarized below and
illustrated in Figure 1:
- Systems Requirements have typically been defined by IT staff, by interviewing users to determine their operational business needs.
- The designs that are established are then based on Technology, with Application Design, Database Design and Object Design reflecting that technology. The technology is used to deliver the
desired business benefits.
- These designs are then implemented to meet desired business Performance Requirements.
- This traditional approach to systems development has been Technology-Dependent.
But the traditional approach to systems development has resulted in problems:
- The Business Needs have been difficult to determine. If these needs are not understood or expressed clearly, the designed systems may not address the real needs of the users and
- The systems that are developed are typically not aligned with corporate goals that set directions for the future. This is one of the main problems with systems development today.
- But the strategic directions are not clear; yet they must be understood if IT is to design flexible systems that support the strategic directions.
Problems with traditional development methods are even greater than suggested earlier. The business needs have traditionally been decided by reviewing the operational processes of the business.
These processes were determined based on strategic plans typically defined many years ago, sometimes more than a decade ago.
Yet in the early 90s we had no idea – not even in our wildest predictions of the future – that we would today be able to communicate instantly with customers, suppliers and business partners
anywhere in the world, through the Internet. The environment that we accept today as the norm was way beyond our most fanciful imagination. Fact has indeed been stranger than fiction, here.
The strategic plans defined in the 90s did not anticipate that these organizations would today communicate with each other in seconds. They assumed communication would be as it had always been, by
mail – or later by fax – with responses received days or weeks later. The most rapid response these business processes assumed was at best in hours. The business processes we still use today were
never designed to respond in seconds.
Competition today – in Government or Defense such as for funding resources – demands systems that can change easily to support rapid business change. Many of these business changes may need
significant change or redevelopment of systems. Yet most of those systems were not designed for change. Existing systems may need massive modification to support essential business changes. Often
it is faster to throw the existing systems away and start over again by developing new systems from scratch. This is slow and very costly.
The advantages and benefits of technology were not clear in the early 90s to many senior managers. It was sometimes difficult to get funding approval for new projects and funding for the resources
that are vital for success. But the Internet and the Year 2000 problem in the late 90s both demonstrated to management the dramatic impact that Technology can have on the enterprise.
- We must build systems that are designed to provide support for a future where the only thing that remains constant … is change itself.
Businesses must change, to compete with other organizations in their relevant markets. This is true for Commercial organizations, which compete with other organizations. It is true for Government
Departments that compete with other Departments for government budget funding. And it is also true for Defense, which competes with hostile Defense forces, and also with friendly Defense forces for
This brings us to three very important principles for change:
We must design for tomorrow based not on operational processes still used today. We have to design for tomorrow by using new activities and processes based on the strategic plans that define
what tomorrow will be.
- Our systems must be tailored for the environment of the Internet – which represents our present and our future – so that enterprises can respond in seconds or minutes, not in days or weeks.
- Our systems must be designed and built so they can accommodate rapid change, if they are to be able to support the rapid pace of change that enterprises are experiencing today and tomorrow. Our
systems need to be composed of “logic leggo building blocks” that can be assembled by point and click methods as process models or workflow models to generate executable code automatically. This
will enable process changes to be made easily to accommodate changes in the business.
The Need for Business Transformation Enablement
Technology alone is not the answer. To achieve any degree of success in enterprise integration requires that Technology Integration be used within a coherent, integrated enterprise,
through Business Integration. But we still have a long way to go in most enterprises to realize business integration.
To appreciate what still has to be achieved, we need to review what I call the “Process Engineering Bible”. I describe the book in this way as it has had a dramatic effect in the way
that organizations function. To consider its impact, we need to review its message. But first:
- What is its title?
- Who was the author?
- When was it published?
Perhaps we can identify the book by first considering its author:
- Was it Michael Hammer or James Champy: of Reengineering the Corporation fame? No, it was neither of them.
- Was it Ken Orr, Ed Yourdon or Tom de Marco: of Software Engineering fame? No, it was not them either.
- Well, was it Peter Drucker: of Management and Strategic Planning fame? No, not him.
- Was it Edwards Demming: of Quality Control fame? No, not him either.
- Was it Alfred Sloan, or Henry Ford? No, the book I am referring to was published long before all of these eminent people.
I have provided an extract in Box 1 from the initial pages of the book, in his own words – a quaint writing style, based on today’s books. I have included in brackets the technical terminology
that we use today when referring to the environment he is talking about. He is using different words, but he is also talking about concepts that today are associated with Object-Oriented methods.
scarce … make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. (today’s terminology: serial operation)
But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar
trades. (today’s terminology: object-oriented methods)
One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct
operations (object-oriented encapsulation); to put it on is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important
business of making a pin is … divided into about eighteen distinct operations … (object-oriented methods)
I have seen a small manufactory of this kind where ten men only were employed … they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day … upwards of
forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore … might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. (object-oriented reusability)
But if they had all wrought separately and independently… they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day (through serial operation) … ; that is,
certainly, not … the four thousand eight hundredth part of what they are at present capable of performing, in consequence of a proper division and combination of their different operations.
So which book am I talking about? As soon as I give you the author and its title – with its publication date – its significance will become apparent. The reference is as follows …
- The extract is from: Adam Smith, “Wealth of Nations”, (1776)
Adam Smith’s breakthrough was the foundation for late 18th Century – early 19th Century industrial age enterprises. With the focus at that time on manufacturing physical items, this period also
saw the same concepts applied to knowledge-based processes for bank loans and for insurance policy applications.
By the middle of the 20th Century, the Industrial Enterprise had evolved into a complex series of manual processes. The pace of progress had seen most enterprises evolve to use increasingly complex
business processes, with rapidly growing transaction volumes to be manually processed. And what was the result?
- These enterprises found they were operating in a continual state of Manual Chaos!
Starting from the late 1950s – through the 60s, 70s, and right up to today – we saw manual processes being automated by computer. The processes were automated, but we took the existing manual
processes and then automated them essentially AS-IS: without much change. That is, the automated processes were being executed as for the manual processes, but faster, and more accurately.
- In so doing, we moved from manual chaos … instead to automated chaos!
The problem is much worse than this! Most automated processes today assume that the technologies of the past still apply. The manual processes that they automate required paper-based forms that
were mailed, or later faxed. So their automated counterparts are based on forms that are also printed to be mailed or faxed. On receipt at their destination, the data in these forms are manually
reentered into relevant systems: with manual work; with extra staffing to do that reentry; with delays; with errors; and with associated costs.
The problem is that automated systems that assume inter-communication with printed forms and manual reentry over weeks and days do not work well when asked to inter-communicate with electronic
forms that bypass the need for manual reentry – and that complete in minutes, or seconds across the Internet. And the reason?
- Today we have 21st century enterprises that utilize 21st century technologies …
- Yet most enterprises today still use 18th century non-integrated business processes!
Enterprise Architecture Concepts
I will now discuss the concepts and methods of enterprise architecture and we will see how this discipline can assist business and IT in deciding how to go about business transformation, utilizing
the most effective rapid delivery enterprise architecture methods and SOA technologies.
Enterprise architecture was initially developed by John Zachman while with IBM in the 1980s, after observing the building and airplane construction industries and the IT industry. He saw
similarities between the construction of buildings, airplanes and the information systems used by an enterprise.
These industries manage the design, construction and maintenance of complex products by considering the needs of different people as illustrated in Figure 2 and discussed following the figure.
- The Owner in the Building industry uses Architect’s Drawings to determine if the building will address specific requirements. For Airplane manufacture, this is achieved by the
high-level Work Breakdown Structure of the plane. A Model of Business is needed for Information Systems.
- The Designer, however, needs a different set of diagrams: Architect’s Plans for the building; sets of Engineering Design diagrams for the plane; or Information
System Models for the enterprise.
- The Builder relies on still different types of diagrams: Contractor’s Plans or blueprints for construction of the building; Manufacturing Engineering Design for plane
construction; or Technology Models for information systems.
In addition, there are a number of different questions – called Primitives, Interrogatives or Abstractions – that need to be considered, shown as columns in Figure 3.
- WHAT is needed is important to know. This is represented above by Material, such as Bill of Materials for buildings and planes, and Data Models for information
- HOW these are used is indicated by Functions, such as Functional Specifications for buildings and planes, and Functional Models for information systems.
- WHERE is also important, as indicated by Location – in Drawings for building and plane construction and in Network Models for information systems.
Bringing these concepts together, the result is a Matrix of five Rows and three Columns as shown in Figure 3. These represent the perspectives for each of:
The Planner, who is interested in What, How and Where
The Owner, who is also interested in What, How and Where
The Designer, who is interested in What, How and Where
The Builder, who is interested in What, How and Where … and
The Subcontractor, who also is interested in What, How and Where
The last Row in Figure 4 addresses the Final Structure: the final product to be produced.
Different documentation, models or representations may also be utilized in each cell of the Zachman Framework as shown in Figure 5. For example, reading down Column 1 – WHAT (Data) we see that:
- The cell formed by intersection of the Objectives / Scope row (of interest to the Planner) and the Data column shows that a “List of Things” is relevant to
- The cell intersected by the Owner row and Data column is the “Enterprise Model” – also called the Strategic Model. We will discuss strategic models in next
- The cell for the Designer row and the Data column shows that “Logical Data Model” documentation is appropriate for this cell.
- The Builder row and Data column cell contains the “Physical Data Model”
- The Subcontractor row and Data column cell contains physical “Data Definition” scripts for installation of databases.
Reading down Column 2 – HOW (Process) and Column 3 – WHERE (Network), we also see in Figure 5 that each row in these columns has various representations in the cells for those
columns as well. Several types of models may also be relevant to each cell.
John Zachman makes the point in Figure 6 that for all things we consider in business or day-to-day life – whether for buildings, for planes or for complex enterprise systems – there are actually
six independent variables. These are based on six Primitive Interrogatives: What, How, Where, Who, When, Why.
There are therefore a further three columns: WHO; WHEN; and WHY in the complete Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture. These questions are shown in Figure 6 by all six columns in
the Zachman Framework.
The Perspectives of the Owner, Designer and Builder were discussed earlier. The Perspective of the Planner defines the scope, while the Subcontractor’s
Perspective is to focus on components.
• The result is a matrix of five rows and six columns, for a total of thirty cells as shown above in Figure 6.
Figure 7 shows examples of typical model contents for each cell. For example, the How column (Col 2) shows that an Activity Model is relevant to the Owner row (Row 2). As a further
illustration, Col 2 Row 3 – a cell of interest to the Designer – shows that a Process Model is relevant for this cell.
These are defined ideally in the sequence indicated by the numbered columns in Figure 7:
- Col 6 (Why) focuses on the business plans for the future, to understand the directions for that future.
- Col 4 (Who) identifies managers in the enterprise responsible for implementing the business plans. It identifies the staff who will help them (as business experts) to transform the enterprise
for that future.
- Col 1 (What) uses the managers and business experts from Col 4 to help identify the data and information needed to support the enterprise based on its transformation plans for the future.
- Col 5 (When) identifies major business events that initiate business activities. This focus on business events based on the business plans can be used to identify reusable business activities.
These can have the greatest potential transformation impact on the enterprise.
- Col 2 (How) addresses business activities identified from Col 5 and also Col 1. It defines activity models and then uses activity based costing to evaluate costs and other benefits of
alternative strategies for business transformation that were defined in Col 6.
- Col 3 (Where) then addresses the locations of the enterprise to participate in this transformation.
In summary, the Framework rows indicate different Views (or Perspectives) of people in the Enterprise, from the Perspectives of the: Planner, Owner, Designer, Builder, and
Subcontractor. The Framework columns also address different primitive questions (also called interrogatives or abstractions) of WHAT, HOW, WHERE, WHO, WHEN and WHY. An
understanding of these perspectives and primitives is essential to achieve managed and effective business transformation.
A high-level view of an enterprise is shown by a horizontal slice at the top 10% of each cell as shown in Figure 8.
- Col 6 (Why) addresses Business Plans with Row 1 (Planner) and with Row 2 (Owner). Business managers and business experts from Col 4 (Who) that are responsible for these high-level plans are
used to identify high-level data, activities and processes that are required to implement those plans within the enterprise.
- Col 1 (Data) with Row 1 (Planner) shows a “List of Things” as a high-level horizontal slice in that cell. Col 1 (Data) with Row 2 (Owner) further represents this data as an
“Enterprise Model”. A high-level horizontal slice of an Enterprise Model – called a Strategic Model – applies to this cell. I will cover strategic models next month.
- Furthermore, horizontal slices in Col 2 (How) for Row 1 (Planner) and for Row 2 (Owner) represent a high-level “List of Processes” and high-level “Activity Models”. This
list is then used to identify and define Activity Models in Col 2, Row 2.
The high-level focus of the horizontal “slice” at the top of each cell (as discussed above) enables priority areas to be identified by management for transformation – that need to be implemented
first; these are called “vertical slivers” that extend for the depth of each cell.
From the Planners’ and Owners’ perspectives in Rows 1 and 2 we can see that vertical slivers in each cell enable greater detail to be defined in priority areas, typically in the sequence as
numbered in Figure 7.
These areas progress to detailed definition: this is represented by the depth of the vertical sliver in each cell, for rapid implementation using appropriate tools and technologies as I will
discuss in later columns covering Web Services and SOA. Thus systems and processes for priority business transformation areas can be delivered early: before other, less important areas that can
wait until later.
Rows 1 and 2 – from the perspectives of the Planner and the Owner – are critical. These two rows are used to identify reusability opportunities for transformation within an enterprise. Figure 9
highlights these two rows for reusability using the Zachman Framework.
A number of cells in these rows of Figure 9 are vitally important, in the sequence below:
- Business Plans in Col 6 (Why) are Key to setting directions for the future.
- Col 4 (Who) identifies the Organization Structure in Row 1. This is also Key, as it enables key managers with Workflow knowledge to identify relative priorities based
on the Business Plans.
- The Business Plans from Col 6 are used to develop a high-level Strategic Model in Col 1 (What). This is a Key cell as it is vital in identifying high-level data and
information that are needed to manage the progress of the enterprise towards the future.
- Col 5 (When) shows that a List of Events and the Master Schedule are also Key. This can be used to identify potential reusable activities in Col 2 (How).
Activity Models in Col 2 (How) are also vital: these Activity Models are Key to identifying critical reusable activities that should be carried out by the enterprise in
- Col 3 (Where) representing the Business Logistics of the enterprise is also Key.
Rapid delivery of priority areas – represented earlier by “vertical slivers” – is realized by key technologies as illustrated by the highlighted, numbered bands in Figure 10, discussed after the
- Col 1 (Data) uses data modeling methods to develop an enterprise model as a strategic model in Row 2. This is expanded into greater data detail as a logical data model in Row 3. Today, most
enterprises use modeling tools to develop the physical database design in Row 4 and data definition language in Row 5 for installation using target DBMS products. Row 5 is now automatically
generated as DBMS DDL scripts by most modeling tools today.
- Workflow models in Col 4 Row 2 are the focus of an emerging class of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) business process management (BPM) languages. These include: business process execution
language for web services (BPEL); web services choreography interface (WSCI), business process modeling language (BPML) and ebXML business process specification schema (BPSS). These are all
XML-based executable languages that are automatically generated from workflow models for immediate execution. I will cover these BPM languages in later articles.
- Database code pattern generators are available today that automatically generate >80% of the code that previously was 100% written by hand. This code is generated from DDL scripts that
define the structure of a database. These database code patterns are generic for all programs that need to access and manipulate these databases. They can be generated in a variety of languages,
including Visual Basic (VB-6 and VB .Net), Active Server Pages (ASP and ASP .Net) and C# .Net for example.
The result is rapid generation and delivery of databases and systems into production in a fraction of the time that was previously required. These technologies enable priority business activities
or processes representing transformation areas (identified earlier in Figure 8 as vertical slivers) to be delivered typically in 3-month increments. I will cover all of these rapid delivery
technologies in later articles.
Further, the resulting systems are far more responsive to change than the traditional systems they replace. Business changes can be made by point-and-click changes directly to the data models and
workflow models, which are then regenerated, resulting in systems that can rapidly change to support required business changes. These utilize web services, which are the “logic leggo building
blocks” that I referred to at the start of this article.
I have now covered the fundamental principles that underpin enterprise architecture. In my article next month I will introduce the concepts of strategic modeling. I will follow that with a case
study of a rapid delivery enterprise architecture project for a bank in the next month. After that, I will describe another enterprise architecture project completed for a government department.