What is Enterprise Architecture

What is Enterprise Architecture?

If your organisation is proactive about adopting digital transformation and being the most profitable version of itself possible, you’ve likely come across the concept of Enterprise Architecture, or EA. EA helps organisations prioritise their IT infrastructure to efficiently support business objectives, using the correct applications to support the right goals.

Let’s take a closer look at EA, what it is and how it helps build your business strategy.

Enterprise Architecture Definition

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is how an organisation aligns IT infrastructure and business processes with its overall strategy and goals. It involves an analysis of IT assets, business processes and flows of information while documenting and mapping the entire tech environment.

By getting a comprehensive view of the organisation, IT projects and policies can be structured to get better results. This means better decision-making, as well as enhanced agility and resilience in the face of changing market conditions.

What Enterprise Architecture is Designed to Achieve?managed voice services brisbane

Your industry is constantly evolving and innovating, so your organisation is faced with a constant challenge of keeping up with the latest market trends and adapting to what customers and other stakeholders expect. This is especially important with regards to the relentless progress of new technologies such as AI, automation, IoT and the cloud. You need to be in a position to take on complex and fast-moving change, and EA helps you get there.

It’s intended to provide a holistic picture of your enterprise, a visual representation of how your different components work together. It will identify and address the gaps between what you’re aspiring to achieve and the reality of what’s in place to achieve those goals. EA is the groundwork for deliberate change that closes those gaps, because knowing your future desired state and the state your business is currently in helps you understand the resources required to get there.

The Four Primary EA Layers

There are four commonly accepted domains to enterprise architecture, usually referred to as layers. These are:

1. Business Architecture: This layer focuses on the organisational structure of an organisation. It defines the business model, looking at strategy, governance and key processes, determining what’s necessary to deliver the desired business vision.

2. Application Architecture: This layer dives into the individual applications and their relationship with core business processes. It helps define how main business services and capabilities are achieved, and whether the applications are supporting them in the best way possible.

3. Data Architecture: Describes how data and information is managed and used within an organisation. Data is essential to understanding your industry, market and customers, helping make better decisions and continuously evolve processes. It needs to be captured, stored and accessible when needed.

4. Technology Architecture: This is the foundation upon which the other layers are built, and includes the hardware, software, networks, and other technology infrastructure necessary to implement the three above architectures.

Key EA Frameworks

EA has been growing in stature as more tech-progressive organisations are looking to harness how they use IT. As this happens, more frameworks that define how to create and use EA are appearing. Here’s a quick rundown of the three main ones you’re likely to encounter:

1. The Zachman Framework: One of the earliest frameworks for enterprise architecture, it provides a structured way of viewing and defining an enterprise. The matrix it uses intersects six communication questions (What, How, Where, Who, When, Why) with six levels of reification (Scope, Business Model, System Model, Technology Model, Detailed Representations and Functioning Enterprise) to help standardise and define the IT architecture.

2. TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework): TOGAF is a widely used methodology that provides a detailed approach to designing, planning, implementing and governing an enterprise information architecture. It’s heavily modelled on the four architecture layers we talk about above, while relying on modularisation and standardisation.

3. FEAF (Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework): This is the EA used by US federal government agencies, but it can also be applied to private companies wanting to use the framework. It integrates strategic, business and tech management into organisational design, improving on performance that way.

What is a VCIOThe Benefits of Enterprise Architecture

The benefits of effective enterprise architecture can help an organisation remain competitive in rapidly changing industries and markets. They include:

1. Improved Alignment: IT is a significant investment in modern businesses, from which solid ROI is expected. EA ensures the investment, and the technology in question, is solidly aligned with an organisation’s strategic objectives.

2. Enhanced Agility: It’s not just about boosting resilience and adaptability. Effective EA can support your business as it goes through a redesign or reorganisation, while also helping manage challenges like supply chain disruptions, staff retention and unconsolidated processes.

3. Cost Efficiency: Processes that positively contribute to their bottom line are always going to catch the attention of businesses. When implemented properly, EA reduces redundancy of your IT solutions, optimising what’s in place and improving on resource utilisation.

4. Enhanced Decision-Making: EA gives you a deep understanding of how IT is used in your business. Knowing how it interacts with other business units, and its contribution to your business goals, informs your high-level decision-making around the direction the business is heading.

5. Compliance: When you have an organised an articulate overview of the systems and processes in your organisation, it’s easier to ensure they’re compliant with the relevant regulations and standards.

Get in Touch with Smile IT

We hope this overview of enterprise architecture gives you an understanding of what it is and how it can be leveraged for your business success. We’re here to help you ensure your IT is implemented and optimised to contribute to your business success. If you have any questions regarding that or would like to know more about Enterprise Architecture, get in touch with our team here!

peter drummond

When he’s not writing tech articles or turning IT startups into established and consistent managed service providers, Peter Drummond can be found kitesurfing on the Gold Coast or hanging out with his family!