The Open Group Conference - San Diego 2011

Does Enterprise Architecture matter? A Lean Enterprise Architecture Foundation (LEAF) for the Cloud Computing era
Ahmed Fattah
Executive IT Architect, IBM Financial Sector, Australia

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a valuable tool that aligns business and IT service implementation with business strategy. However, it suffers from perceptions of being complex, needing a large up-front effort, and having limited business value. Cloud Computing seems to have exacerbated such negative perceptions with some even suggesting that EA may become irrelevant in the CC era. In spite of such claims, I personally suspect that EA will thrive with the growth of CC. We can see already some of its influence on EA, such as the enhanced role of Business Architecture and reduced role of Technology Architecture, but the full consequences are yet to be seen.

Anticipating some further impacts of CC on EA, an approach based on my experience applying EA discipline to specific business problems may perhaps refine EA and help to accommodate CC. Benefits of such approach include an EA that is leaner, more grounded in economics and better linkage with business and Solution Architects. I refer to this approach as Lean Enterprise Architecture Foundation (LEAF).

LEAF separates EA into a minimal foundation that is applied at whole enterprise level plus a set of programs with positive ROI that are selectively applied to enterprise subunits. LEAF’s foundation though slim, still has to perform key EA functions such as defining an EA charter, communicating its value and enabling the planning, initiation and governance of positive-ROI business programs. A key element of enabling the successful implementation of these programs is the definition and governance of a high-level Enterprise Service Model. The LEAF approach outlined here, while compatible with TOGAF and IBM EA Method, will nevertheless require some adjustments: only Business Architecture activities are conducted at the whole enterprise level while other activities are conducted at a subunit level. Such adjustment is in line with EA’s aspirations, especially with the rise of CC.

Ahmed Fattah

Ahmed Fattah is an Executive IT Architect in IBM Financial Services Sector. His role is to develop and maintain trusted, technically consultative relationship with IBM Financial Sector™ clients working across all IBM brands and divisions including products and services. He focuses on leading large-scale enterprise solutions and advising on leading practices in developing, deploying and governing enterprise-wide business solutions and Enterprise Architecture.

Ahmed has more than 30 years experience in the information industry, primarily in enterprise solution development. He is an Open Group Certified Distinguished Chief IT Architect and has two software patents. Ahmed has presented at many IBM and industry conferences on SOA, EA and Cloud Computing.

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