Demystifying Enterprise Architecture

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enterprise architectureThe history of Architecture in the IT world stems from the need to have scalable systems with  re-usable components that simply the process of building, deploying and maintaining enterprise systems, whilst taking care of all the major facets around data, security, interfaces and performance. Over the years, the role of Architecture has grown with more focus placed on bridging the gap between Business Strategy and IT Strategy.

In my working career, the best IT Architects I came across were from the US West Coast. This explains why a lot of design work happens in this area and development work completed in India, China or Philippines. Broadly speaking, Architecture in the tech world can be broadly categorised into Applications Architecture, Business Architecture, Data Architecture, Enterprise Architecture, Security Architecture and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Suffice it to say that SOA may also be viewed as a paradigm of Application Architecture with a mandate of providing principles that influence design decisions that provide robust and well-built IT systems. In layman terms, Application Architecture is to a system development team what a building blue print is to a team of construction workers. While there’s no limit into the level of detail required, some teams keep it simple providing only high level abstract physical and logical technical representations. Others may choose to delve deeper into granular details including data models, security standards and data flow diagrams just to name a few.

Enterprise Architecture has a more overarching role and tends to have a holistic view of an organization in its current and future states from a strategy, business and technology perspective. According to cio.com, Enterprise architecture focuses on four crucial C’s: connection, collaboration, communication and customers; with a primary concern of aligning a business’s strategic vision with its information technology. The enterprise architect must therefore map, define and standardize technology, data and business processes that will satisfy today’s and tomorrow’s business needs. With such a view, the Enterprise Architecture role is critical in mapping IT resources that will integrate the business needs and what technology has to offer. It’s critical to note that successful and effective CIOs often have world class Enterprise Architects as their right hand generals. Continuing with our earlier analogy, Enterprise Architecture is to an organization what a city master plan is to a city. It therefore follows that the initial inputs of an Application Architecture will come from the Enterprise Architecture, without which the Application might not be compatible with or fit within the organizations strategy.

Whilst most Universities have placed an emphasis in churning out technical focused IT personnel such as System Developers, Web Designers and Graphic Designers, very few Unis, especially in the emerging markets have taken note of the role of Enterprise Architecture as a critical and defining field in the IT world. This explains why typical IT environments in most public and even private sector comprises   a spaghetti and cob web of multiple systems, devices, cables, servers and interfaces that cost millions to maintain annually with no clear upgrade or replacement road maps. The value that organizations can yield from encapsulating Enterprise Architecture in their business processes is massive; top one being provision of an organization’s holistic view of how technology is designed, built, deployed and maintained. Lastly it’s imperative to emphasize that Enterprise Architecture goes hand-in-hand with IT Governance and collaboratively helps in establishing governance across the enterprise, which helps in building a controlled and well directed institution. It acts like a framework for leadership, organizational structure, business processes, standards, practices, etc.  For IT folks with a passion in Enterprise Architecture, TOGAF framework is the de facto global standard for Enterprise Architecture and is governed by the Open Group Architecture Forum. TOGAF comes with a certification program whose qualification is achieved through passing two exams, following a course of self-study or attendance at an Accredited Training Course. There is also an entry level qualification, TOGAF 9 Foundation, which is achieved by passing just the first exam.

 

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James Muritu

Senior IT Executive with a proven track record of transforming struggling business delivery processes, implementing large scale & complex IT Projects to increase ROI, reduce TCO, and increase internal/external customer satisfaction. Expert in identifying the most impactful and cost effective technology solutions that yield maximum business value through practices that promote Process Centrism, Innovation and Value Creation. An innovative thought leader whose valued for being passionately discontent with maintaining status quo while simultaneously converting resistant team members and partners into iterative change advocates for business and client benefit.Strong grasp of Alternative Channels design and implementation(mobile,web,social media). A passionate advocator of the need to balance “satisfaction of technology supported business strategic and operational needs against incoming stream of business opportunities, risks and regulatory requirements”. Vast International experience across Africa, Asia, North America, UK and Australia, with hands on insight across the following industries: Manufacturing, Banking, Insurance, Consulting, Telcoms and Non-profit. Driven by Passion, Integrity and Results.- Manager of the Year Award: 2014 - Jubilee Insurance Kenya - 2013 and 2014 Nominee for ICT Manager of the year award in Kenya - IT Association of Kenya - Key speaker and presenter in several Tech events in Kenya - Writer and commentator - Globe trotter with a strong appreciation of multiple cultures (have had the privilege to visit all the world's continents and 30 countries)

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