Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is Enterprise Architecture Dead?

I can't see much recognition or respect for the value of "Enterprise Architecture" except among the ranks of EA practitioners. In many organizations, the function of enterprise architecture is squeezed or marginalized, if not rejected altogether.

The attempt by the CAEAP to turn EA into a "Profession" is not going to address this problem. The desire for professional status is not coming from the demand-side (CEOs wishing to distinguish genuine practitioners from charlatans) but from the supply-side (like teenagers wanting to be taken seriously). People who think EA is a waste of space are not going to be reassured by the existence of a cartel of people with impressive-looking certificates.

Meanwhile the most experienced and able practitioners are getting on with the work, engaging with the business rather than worrying about preserving a label with such negative connotations.

I have been mulling on this post for a while, but I am now prompted to complete it by CBDI boss David Sprott, who has just produced a good post on The Death of Enterprise Architecture. Perhaps responding to the fuss about the Death of SOA, which exercised a few minds earlier in the year (see my post Has SOA Gone for a Burton?), he suggests that it is Enterprise Architecture that is dead - not just in need of a new label but in need of a new concept.

David proposes Smart Ecosystem Architecture. He refers to some of the CBDI reports I wrote about ecosystems in various industries (Airlines, Insurance, Public Sector) and argues that it's not about the enterprise any more.

"Various influences particularly Complex Event Driven Architecture and Smart Business and IT are strongly predicated on optimizing business design and processes involving all the ecosystem stakeholders."

 Not just engaging with the business, then, but looking beyond the business into the demand environment. See my paper (with Philip Boxer) Taking Governance to the Edge (Microsoft Architecture Journal, August 2006)


Jon H Ayre said...

Music to my ears - exactly where I am coming from as well. The irrelevance of certificates, the corruption of genuine beneficial architecture by those who attempt to formalise and embellish it (to support certification), and the failure to focus on future strategy and vision.

I posted on similar issues in Find me an EA and To Be or Not To Be

The Enterprising Architect

Paul Preiss said...

Interesting post though of course there are quite a number that have predicted the death of architecture in one form or another through the years.

As a side note, you should be aware that very few professions ever started on the demand side. Of those that did, they were almost always smaller professions driven by new government regulations (things like SARBOX which caused the development of the fraud examiners cert etc). A study of professions (ones where you do take certification seriously in your day to day life like medicine) will show that they were almost always driven by the practicioners themselves. I enjoyed the reference to whiny teenagers especially!

Believe it or not though the hype around EA is dying, to be replaced by a full understanding of IT architecture including software, infrastructure, information and business architecture. While you may not see many CEOs asking that question, you may not be looking in the right place. Ive had numerous conversations with CEOs on this topic and more importantly CIOs are asking more and more, "why do I hire architects (and dont give many any fancy reasoning around EA vs SA vs BA, etc). I want to know what is the point of any architect."

Now as to the CAEAP, CEAOE, AOGEA, and other EA only organizations, they will continue to have issues with practicing architects (including me) until they focus on the real work of architecture, technology strategy, and not just on the top 1% of 1% of architect roles.

Anyway, always one of my favorite conversations.

ailawadhi said...

With all due respect, this blog tickles me - why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

Just like everything else, there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. EA as a discipline is no different..

Granted that some of EA archetypes are ivory towered or misaligned, resulting in the "anarchy-tectures" that we have all seen, that does not imply that all EA archetypes are close to their demise.. Too much of a stretch of logical reasoning!

While I stoutly agree with the core notion that EA can not be supply driven only, the fact that there has to be *some* function providing line of sight across the "enterprise" - so that things don't get (sub)optimized at the BU level - underlines the need for a balance between various apparently conflicting needs of an organizational entity. Call it Enterprise Architecture or call it Metasystem Architecture or Overarching Cohesiveness or XYZ - the intent stays the same.

If everyone having a gym membership is not getting the results they want, then maybe the concept of the gym is close to it's death :)

Just like everyone's age, body type, metabolism etc. dictates the type of regimen they would benefit from the most in the gym, similarly, different EA styles are needed for different organizational contexts – it would be na├»ve to assume that one size fits all. Strategy, functional models, maturity, leadership, culture – all play a critical role in dictating the “best fit” EA to give a given enterprise the results they need.

Incidentally Osterwalder et al also highlight the need for an EA discipline to drive alignment with Business Models and paired the EA concept with their Business Model canvas.

"IT Doesn't Matter" had made Nicholas Carr famous (he made a valid argument about the commoditization of IT) and the trend of apocalypse-oriented blogs continued with the “Obituary: SOA” Manes blog earlier. I sincerely hope that sensationalism is not the intent of this posting.. Perhaps it’s more about an EA Metamorphosis?

cvv said...

In my country Enterprise Architecture is predefined by law. There are some free for customization, but only some ...

Mridul said...

EA, will not die. As enterprises are realizing a need for business and IT alignment. There is a need of resources who are well versed with business and technology and also the roles are distributed over the LOB managers to IT managers.These roles can not fall under IT, therefore they are coming out as independent EA group. more at. http://www.thakursahib.com/2009/11/need-of-ea/

Pylon said...

The battle rages on... After about 15 years as a practicing Enterprise Architect who has never been out of work, or for want of a next gig, I gotta say like Rosanne Rosannahdanah, "What's all this buzz I keep hearing about EA being dead?" The practice and profession of EA is growing and getting stronger every day. Whether CAEAP or a myriad of other organizations claiming dominion over the practice and profession (yes it has become a full profession)will succeed in more formalization of certification criterion or curriculums remains to be seen. What I can tell you is that increasingly world wide the practing of EA is growing and not from the supply side. Go to any on-line job listing and type in a query on Enterprise Architects and see what you get. Go to salary.com and check out what an EA Director's average salary rate is. Survey the internet for EA topics or articles (5 or so years ago you couln't find but a few)and you get 100's of pages. So I gotta say rave on...because EA is not even close to dead. There may be an identity crisis or two and certainly things like SOA and the now popular Cloud are confusing the overal issues but they will all sift out. Whether you call EA "EA" or you call it frog gigging the bottom line is whether it is a process, project or program adding valuable insight to business mission performance. Where done right -many times now by certified architect as opposed to self appointed grurus - it does add attributable value to the missions of enterprises (not ecosystems). So all I can say to everyone in this discussion supporting a premise that EA is dead...is..."nevermind".

neerkr said...

This is a pretty strong statement to make and not sure if this is true anyway. My view is that EA function may take some other form and shape but is far from dying. While I do think there is a great deal of hype created by the consulting companies, recruitment agencies, media to some extent and huge misunderstanding about this subject do make the matter even worse.

Firstly, I do not think that EA is such a novelty anymore. It, as a function, has existed for quite a while but has changed its forms as organisation became more complex, dynamic and agile (e.g. globalization, M& A's, etc), there has been increasing need to ensure the alignment between the business and IT strategy. Which is one of the strong selling point of EA. Enterprise Architecture (or any architecture for that matter) will not die (would rather prevail) due to the following reasons -

1. Risk Management - By developing Architecture at several levels (i.e. EA then solution architecture, then design/development) we are essentially trying to reduce the risk, eliminating the uncertainties and improving the changes of success. Can business really live without this?

2. Costs - Fixing problems early at the blueprinting stage is cheaper than demolishing the building and erect another one. This analogy equally applies to the IT world.



Kevin "PEAF" Smith said...

The death of Enterprise Architecture?

The death of Architecture?

Are you all mental!

What a totally absurd and stupid thing to say.

Just becasue something is difficult does not make it wrong or worthless. Quite the reverse actually.

Proper EA's continue the battle to make organisations aware of the profound beneifts a correctly executed EA initiaive can bring, instead of writing sensationalist claptrack.

Personally I think that blogs are one of the biggest problems EA has.

Before, EA had only to battle the confused IT centric views of TOG and TOGAF, now EA also has to battle a multitude of blogs which look very professional but usually contain confused or completely wrong views of what EA really is.