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Monday, January 28, 2008

The end of Enterprise Architecture as we know it

Did you already be part of an enterprise Architecture (or city planning or IT urbasnism) program in your company?

If yes, then you already experienced the numerous meetings around which framework to use (TOGAF, DODAF, etc.), the architecture views to propose, the tool to find, buy and deploy (Mega, Casewise, etc.), the documents to produce, the web site to generate, etc.

And when everything is ready (tool, process, organization) then the most difficult part has to be done: data in context should be loaded in the tool by stakeholder or automatically through specific interfaces. And this part is taking time.

Making different people do cartography and following the same modeling techniques, the same naming conventions, the same granularity is very difficult. Of course, you can do it. It takes time and money and when it's done ... it is generally no more accurate.

Loading data in a tool is not the issue. making drawing to show some particular view of the system is also not an issue. The main problem arise when you try to be exhaustive in linking objects (a server to an application, a server to an environment, etc.).

I think that this way of doing enterprise architecture is a dead end! The end of Enterprise Architecture as we know it.

We should think of enterprise architecture as a social network. The idea is to create process and tools to let users create the global view by collaborating and bringing for each of them part of the reality. But what is new, is that you do not force the user to follow a particular format or view. The user describes its vision of business processes or IT in its own "Domain language".

Behind the collaboration tool, a semantic engine, should look at all created models and data and try to build the semantic relationships. Then you can leverage knowledge management and look at enterprise architecture from an associative point of view (instead of declarative and normative).

Of course today no tools exist on the market. But When I see what "web 2" is bringing and how it changes how people work, I do think that this will also change the way we make enterprise architecture. So instead of buying monolithic proprietary tools for enterprise architecture, I will rather like to have a great new set of collaborative tools that let me relate information in context and let the tool build the network of relationships and dependencies. Displaying those dependencies can be done using SVG or rich application framework like Flex and Silverlight.

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