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Enterprise architecture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Enterprise architecture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Enterprise architecture (EA) is "a well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a holistic approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise architecture applies architecture principles and practices to guide organizations through the business, information, process, and technology changes necessary to execute their strategies. These practices utilize the various aspects of an enterprise to identify, motivate, and achieve these changes.".[1]

Practitioners of enterprise architecture, enterprise architects, are responsible for performing the analysis of business structure and processes and are often called upon to draw conclusions from the information collected to address the goals of enterprise architecture: effectiveness, efficiency, agility, and durability.[2]

In the enterprise architecture literature and community, there are various perspectives in regards to the meaning of the term enterprise architecture. As of 2015, no official definition exists; rather, various organizations (public and private) promote their understanding of the term. Consequently, the enterprise architecture literature offers many definitions for the term enterprise architecture; some of which are complementary, others nuances, and others yet are in opposition.[3]

The MIT Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR) in 2007 defined enterprise architecture as the specific aspects of a business that are under examination:

The Enterprise Architecture Body of Knowledge defines enterprise architecture as a practice, which

IT analysis firm Gartner defines the term as a discipline where an enterprise is led through change. According to their glossary,

Each of the definitions above underplay the historical reality that enterprise architecture emerged from methods for documenting and planning information systems architectures, and the current reality that most enterprise architecture practitioners report to a CIO or other IT department manager. In a business organization structure today, the enterprise architecture team performs an ongoing business function that helps business and IT managers to figure out the best strategies to support and enable business development and business change – in relation to the business information systems the business depends on.

The term enterprise can be defined as describing an organizational unit, organization, or collection of organizations that share a set of common goals and collaborate to provide specific products or services to customers.[7]

In that sense, the term enterprise covers various types of organizations, regardless of their size, ownership model, operational model, or geographical distribution. It includes those organizations' complete socio-technical systems,[8] including people, information, processes and technologies.

The term architecture refers to fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment embodied in its elements, relationships, and in the principles of its design and evolution.[9]

An enterprise, understood as a socio-technical system, defines the scope of the enterprise architecture.

Current perspectives, or beliefs, held by enterprise architecture practitioners and scholars, with regards to the meaning of the enterprise architecture, typically gravitate towards one or a hybrid of three schools of thought:[10]

One’s belief with regards to the meaning of enterprise architecture will impact how one sees its purpose, its scope, the means of achieving it, the skills needed to conduct it, and the locus of responsibility for conducting it[10]

According to the standard ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010,[9] the product used to describe the architecture of a system is called an architectural description. In practice, an architectural description contains a variety of lists, tables and diagrams. These are models known as views. In the case of Enterprise Architecture, these models describe the logical business functions or capabilities, business processes, human roles and actors, the physical organization structure, data flows and data stores, business applications and platform applications, hardware and communications infrastructure.[citation needed]

The architecture of an enterprise is described with a view to improving the manageability, effectiveness, efficiency or agility of the business, and ensuring that money spent on information technology (IT) is justified.[citation needed]

Paramount to changing the enterprise architecture is the identification of a sponsor, his/her mission, vision and strategy and the governance framework to define all roles, responsibilities and relationships involved in the anticipated transformation. Changes considered by enterprise architects typically include:

A methodology for developing and using architecture to guide the transformation of a business from a baseline state to a target state, sometimes through several transition states, is usually known as an enterprise architecture framework. A framework provides a structured collection of processes, techniques, artifact descriptions, reference models and guidance for the production and use of an enterprise-specific architecture description.

The benefits of enterprise architecture are achieved through its direct and indirect contributions to organizational goals. It has been found that the most notable benefits of enterprise architecture can be observed in the following areas:[12]

Documenting the architecture of enterprises is done within the U.S. Federal Government[23] in the context of the Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) process.

The Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) reference models guides federal agencies in the development of their architectures.[24]

Companies such as Independence Blue Cross, Intel, Volkswagen AG[25] and InterContinental Hotels Group use enterprise architecture to improve their business architectures as well as to improve business performance and productivity.

For various understandable reasons, commercial organizations rarely publish substantial enterprise architecture descriptions. However, government agencies have begun to publish architectural descriptions they have developed. Examples include:

According to the Federation of EA Professional Organizations (FEAPO), Enterprise Architecture interacts with a wide array of other disciplines commonly found in business settings. According to FEAPO:

As Enterprise Architecture has emerged in various organizations, the broad reach has resulted in this business role being included in information technology governance process in many organizations. While this may imply that enterprise architecture is closely tied to IT, it should be viewed in the broader context of business optimization in that it addresses business architecture, performance management and process architecture as well as more technical subjects.

Discussions of the intersection of Enterprise Architecture and various IT practices have been published by various IT analysis firms. Gartner and Forrester have stressed the important relationship of Enterprise Architecture with emerging holistic design practices such as Design Thinking and User Experience Design.[27][28][29] Analyst firm Real Story Group suggested that Enterprise Architecture and the emerging concept of the Digital workplace were "two sides to the same coin."[30] The Cutter Consortium describes Enterprise Architecture as an information and knowledge-based discipline.[31]

The enterprise architecture of an organization is too complex and extensive to document in its entirety, so knowledge management techniques provide a way to explore and analyze these hidden, tacit or implicit areas. In return, enterprise architecture provides a way of documenting the components of an organization and their interaction in a systemic and holistic way that complements knowledge management.[32]

Enterprise Architecture has been discussed, in various venues,[33] as having a relationship with Service Oriented Architecture, a particular style of application integration. Current research points to Enterprise Architecture as a key enabler to the success of efforts to use SOA as an enterprise-wide integration pattern.[34][35]

The following table lists the most notable enterprise architecture tools as recognized by Gartner and Forrester Research in their most recent reports.[36][37][38]

Despite the benefits that enterprise architecture claims to provide, for more than a decade a number of industry leaders, writers, and leading organizations have raised concerns about enterprise architecture as an effective practice. Here is a partial list:

A key concern about EA has been the difficulty in arriving at metrics of success, because of the broad-brush and often opaque nature of EA projects.[44]


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En staff, “Enterprise architecture - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,” Continuing Education on New Data Standards & Technologies, accessed July 22, 2018,