Enterprise Architecture

Information Systems Research

The purpose of this article is to discuss what I believe to be a commonly misunderstood gap in analysis of enterprise architecture as strategy. Analysts are apt to put up a slide that depicts hierarchies of silos as vertical disconnected lines on the left, process as horizontal lines in the center, and rows of boxes on the right. The purpose of the boxes is to help visualize componetization of business process, progress toward more modern enterprise systems that emphasize collaboration, sharing, and integration of common functions across silos and across lines of business.

Analysts speak of a journey and the time it takes to move from one path to the other. I would like to respectfully suggest that this diagram represents a mainframe and that the journey can move very quickly if the lines of business adopt mainframe virtualized and mainframe security technology, otherwise known in academic circles as large enterprise servers. The large enterprise servers manage across silos and implement collaboration and integration seamlessly.

The journey is slow because the lines of business, the executives fail to understand how the technology supports or in most cases impedes the journey to modernization.

The distributed servers are forever stuck in silos. The distributed servers are organized by email, web services, application delivery, ERP, and industry specific applications – silos. So long as the technology is organized as silos it is impossible to migrate the business into an efficient, highly utilized systems approach to business automation. If you interview skilled mainframe users who have achieved competitive advantage, they will tell you that the mainframe provides economies of scale at least 10x better than distributed systems. This mainframe advantage is poised to become an even larger gap with the new zEnterprise 196 which is industry transformational because of the speed and power it offers along with the magnificent OS that truly implements automated process in a way nothing has ever done before.

Automated process is the essence of enterprise architecture.

The point is that to modernize, the enterprise must move away from silos and if the systems architecture implements silos, then there is no way to move away from the silos. The silos are inside the technology, then of course the journey will go on and on. If instead, your CIOs adopt highly virtualized systems that permit integration, systems modernization, and very high systems utilization because many processes run simultaneously as components on the large enterprise server system, then the migration is facilitated by the existing infrastructure.
WinterGreen Research has very sophisticated ROI models where we have worked out the metrics for the systems in detail and would be happy to take anyone through those at a later time if anyone is interested.


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2 Responses to Enterprise Architecture

  1. Bernard says:

    You have got key points here. The switching from an equipment economy to a replacement economy in the late 1970s or early 1980s in our then called “industrialized countries” started a long term transformational journey for the enterprise going the 19th / 20th century silos to the Digital Component, ecosystem based enterprise of the 21st century.

    Enterprise Architecture (EA) is really a business issue, i.e. EA is an operational model that can be seen as one dimension of the enterprise strategy (GTM is an other one), and not an IT issue, though IT has to derive at least 4 architectures from EA : business process, data / information, applications and infrastructures.

    You say “automated process is the essence of EA”, I think it is interesting to specify that “automation” should be understood in 2 dimensions: standardization and integration.

    • susan says:

      I think of automated process as core to all enterprise endeavors, and as a core IT task. If you have a small garage, you can deliver goods and services using manual process, but to create a large distribution center you need automated process at every level of the distribution. Standardization and integration are aspects of the automated process, because you need repeatable process and you need to be able to communicate and collaborate across silos, but I see these as basic to the automation. Automation is implemented using different architecture and architecture does make a difference in the type of process to be delivered, and the type of quality of architecture that can be achieved. Fewer or no silos are good when you try to implement a digital component architecture.

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