Tuesday, February 08, 2011

What is an EA vendor?

#entarch I just asked an innocent question about enterprise architecture vendors on Twitter, partly to find out which companies identified themselves as such.

Some industry analysts focus on vendors selling software tools for use by architects. For example, I find a Gartner report on Cool Vendors in Enterprise Architecture from March 2009, highlighting two small vendors with what Gartner regards as fresh approaches: "one with metrics and innovative graphics, and the other providing an affordable entry point that leverages users' Visio skills".

Even some people who insist that enterprise architecture shouldn't be thought of as merely software architecture seem to think that "tools" only means "software tools". For example Ian Louw (@bpmfundamentals) approvingly repeats @joemckendrick's headline "EA still too fixated on technology, versus business" but happily discusses Gartner's EA Magic Quadrant for 2009 without mentioning the possible contradiction.

But the EA market is much more than software. There are companies selling frameworks and methodologies and other intellectual property, which may be packaged as a knowledgebase or manuals or training. There are companies selling standard industry models, either as stand-alone products as IBM does, or embedded into application packages. There are consultancies and systems houses selling complete solutions, although this rather depends on one's notion of completeness.

Thus when an industry analyst classifies EA vendors in terms of "vision" and "ability to execute", we might reasonably expect these terms to refer to EA vision and ability to execute (thus probably having to do with frameworks and processes and collaborations as well as software) rather than solely the ability to envision and deliver lumps of software.

Who do you regard as EA vendors? Do you regard your own organization as an EA vendor or supplier?

No comments: