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What is an Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise Architecture Practice
White Paper

Enterprise Architecture - the manner in which the computer system of a business entity are organized, integrated and managed to meet the needs of the business architecture

Introduction It’s not hard to imagine a city without a plan. All you have to do is look at the oldest sections of any city on the east coast of the US. These areas are full of “paved cow paths”, leaking water pipes, railway systems of different gauges and power systems, and communication systems that are not up to the needs of modern business. Now imagine the information systems of a company that has grown by acquisition, continued to maintain its legacy systems after their life cycle has past, and had no central IT organization. In both cases, it is likely that there will come a time when the populace will revolt and say “We need a plan.” Riverton calls the “city plan” for the IT organization an Enterprise Architecture. This white paper presents Riverton’s view of the components of an Enterprise Architecture. But what is an enterprise architecture? Riverton views it as a mechanism for assuring the IT resources of the corporation are in line with its strategy. Just as communities have certain goals and objectives (tax base, traffic, pollution, quality of life) that are used as input to the city plan, corporations have needs for information and communication that will drive the creation of the Enterprise Architecture. City Plans and Enterprise Architectures also operate within the resource constraints of their communities, so they cannot be implemented all at once, but rather over the course of a defined time line. This allows the city and the company to continue to operate while the plan is put into effect. The hope is that when the end of the plan is reached, the goals will be achieved. Of course, the goals or available resources are likely to change and the plans or architectures must be reevaluated or changed. Perhaps it is easier to describe enterprise architecture by what it is not: • • It is not the set of business applications that you use to run your business today; rather it is the framework that you want the applications that you are building tomorrow to fit into. It is not the framework (or patchwork) of components, platforms, and third party software that you are currently using; rather it represents the desired state of these components, platforms, and applications required to support the business strategy going forward. Enterprise Architecture (EA) is not a one year project to document the way in which your systems currently interact (although this survey can be an integral part of any EA project); rather it is an on-going activity of comparing the current state of computing within your organization with the strategy of the business and its implied business architecture.

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etc. Integration Architecture – the mechanisms used by the organization to interconnect applications within and beyond the four walls of the organization. The Technical Architecture can be extended further in the following areas: Application Architecture – for those applications built in house. Enterprise A rchitecture Infrastructure A rchitecture Information A rchitecture text Enterprise W ide Technical A rchitecture A pplication A rchitecture Integration A rchitecture The complete enterprise architecture consists of: • • • The Infrastructure Architecture – the collection of networks. The Enterprise Wide Technical Architecture – the set of supported technologies and third party tools upon which the application portfolio of the organization will be based.0070 Fax: 781.229. and management infrastructure that allows systems to effectively communicate.229. an Enterprise Architecture is a collection of interrelated architectures for the major elements of an organization’s information technology systems. language. The following diagram shows Riverton’s view of the major supporting architectures for an enterprise. transportation. The Information Architecture – the organization of the data consumed or produced by the organization while meeting its business objectives. MA 01803 Tel: 781. routers.1138 ©2002 Riverton Corporation .Overview Just as a city plan is a collection of interrelated plans for housing. industry. and business framework to be used. hubs. the programming model. - Riverton Corporation One New England Executive Park Burlington. The following sections explain these supporting architectures in more detail. application framework.

229. These technologies fall into several categories. . made in the other parts of the enterprise architecture. MA 01803 Tel: 781. This monitoring activity is tightly coupled with. will use. Bug Reporting) Messaging Systems Rules Engine Workflow Engine Knowledge Management/Collaboration Tools User Management Technical Architecture – the set of technologies upon which applications. cabling. Web Servers Management Tools (Application Management. The infrastructure architecture should also identify how the infrastructure (servers. Riverton Corporation One New England Executive Park Burlington.the resources (as personnel. Enterprise Wide Technical Architecture The Enterprise Wide Technical Architecture (EWTA) describes the set of technologies upon which applications purchased or built within the organization will use. either acquired or built internally. including: • • • • • • • • • • Platforms (Operating Systems. infrastructure architecture can be compared with the transportation plan created during the city planning process. It must consider: • • • • How information will reach all of its consumers What capacity will be required to get the information to its consumers at the right time How will access to the system be controlled How will bottlenecks be discovered and alternate routes developed before they become problems? The organization’s infrastructure architecture determines the pathways that information and requests for service will traverse in order to connect the systems required. Data Warehouses Application Servers. It accomplishes this by specifying network protocols. buildings. proxy servers. Content Management. or equipment) required for an activity Infrastructure Architecture To continue our city planning analogy. brands for hubs.1138 ©2002 Riverton Corporation • Reporting/Business Intelligence Tools Some companies may not be able to identify a single set (or profile) of technologies that are appropriate for every group within the company. Source Code Control.229. VPN’s as well as the network topology for the interconnected subnetworks.Infrastructure .0070 Fax: 781. routers. Hardware) Languages. applications) will be monitored and managed. this approach increases the importance of the Integration Architecture to be discussed later). and dependent on decisions. For example. Development Environments and Tools Databases. companies with very large divisions may require Divisional Architectures (however. network components.

229. The part of an application architecture that must be completed first is the selection of the architectural model to be used. Application Architecture An Application Architecture describes the approach used to create new applications.229. a hodgepodge of technologies that cannot be effectively managed will result. For organizations that elect to build a significant portion of their application portfolio. different profiles might be used to solve specific computing problems.1138 ©2002 Riverton Corporation . MA 01803 Tel: 781. For example. the EWTA should provide guidelines on when to use each profile. Finally. a choice of Riverton Corporation One New England Executive Park Burlington. In this situation.0070 Fax: 781. if numerous profiles are allowed to pervasively exist in an organization. different profiles may be appropriate when there is a wide separation in the costs of different technologies or the skill sets of the implementation groups differ widely. Common models include: • • • Client/Server Thick or Thin client Distributed component . Improve employee effectiveness by allowing them to be shared across projects and reducing the training time required on new projects Increase reuse across development projects Improve the likelihood that applications will be able to communicate with a minimum amount of effort. The definition of an EWTA can help organizations: • • • • • Reduce costs by placing the organization in a stronger position during contract negotiations while reducing maintenance fees Reduce the implementation time for many projects by eliminating the need for a platform identification phase for each new project. special attention should be placed on determining the Integration Architecture that will allow those applications to communicate seamlessly. extra attention should be placed on the Application Architecture component of the EWTA. For those choosing a best-ofbreed approach to the selection of enterprise applications. Net Java/EJB CORBA Application Architecture – the software components and their organization that provide the infrastructure of an application • Web Services (either hub and spoke or peer to peer) The selection of an appropriate model will depend on many of the platform choices made earlier in the EWTA. However.In some cases.

One model may be selected for Web based applications that are to be accessed via the public Internet. interfaces and helper classes could all be developed to provide these services allowing more rapid solution development. mobile clients. multiple architectural models may be chosen if appropriate for the organization. Once an architectural model is selected. HTML only clients. The integration architecture supports the organization by allowing it to move from the current state to the future state. The most common model in use today is a distributed component based back end architecture that provides services to a number of front-end presentation models (thick and thin clients. base and abstract classes. the description of an application architecture stops at this point. Good integration architecture can also support significant changes to the EA when it needs to be updated to reflect changes in the business strategy or technology space. etc. the next step is to identify common services that will likely be shared across all applications built within the architectural model. One mechanism used to achieve flexibility in an Riverton Corporation One New England Executive Park Burlington. As with the EWTA. Some services that might be built include: • • • • • • Logging Security Session Management Application Management Naming Service Transaction Service • Event Service Depending on the language selected for the product. It also captures all of the pertinent domain information and attributes of the organization. Frequently. a good architecture must be flexible. For example.).Net architecture is incompatible with a selection of Sun Servers and Solaris as the Hardware Platform and Operating System.0070 Fax: 781.1138 ©2002 Riverton Corporation . companies that have selected Message Oriented Middleware as the basis of their integration architecture have been able to easily incorporate new hardware and operating system platforms as they became popular.229.the . Other organizations (including Riverton) take application architecture a step further by creating an Enterprise Object Model. As discussed in “Principles of a Good Architecture”. This model has been selected because of its flexibility and the amount of reuse that it supports. while another may be selected for internal applications. Integration Architecture No EA is complete without an integration architecture.229. This model can encapsulate all of the storage and access requirements of the Information Architecture and protect developers from changes in the implementation of the Information Architecture. MA 01803 Tel: 781. Integration Architecture – the set of process and components that allow the applications used by the enterprise to communicate.

The physical level of the IA includes how the logical structure of the information is maintained. A common integration strategy used is the deployment of Enterprise Application Integration Toolsets. Other integration approaches include: • • • Information . CRM. These tools provide adapters to the popular ERP. The physical level also identifies the storage characteristics of the entities and their attributes. etc. MA 01803 Tel: 781. and SCM products as well as message transformation and reliable messaging services that can distribute data changes among other systems. where is it located? Riverton Corporation One New England Executive Park Burlington. document management systems. etc. This can occur by design (information moves from an operational database to a data warehouse used for business intelligence) or by happenstance (acquisition of other organizations or applications). The entity attributes are frequently gathered into a Data Dictionary that allows for the standardization of attributes across the organization.1138 ©2002 Riverton Corporation • how is it moved from location to location.229. party. the applications can then be brought together via an integration strategy.0070 Fax: 781. information is replicated in many information stores. The Information Architecture deals with this problem by identifying the system of record for all information types and the required data flows for the movement of data from source systems to the system of record and from the system of record to target systems. external sources. purchase order. This structure takes on three dimensions: • • what is stored?. Examples of business entities might include employee. trade.229. Information can be stored in relational databases.Enterprise Architecture is to decouple applications from each other (to reduce dependencies) and to provide clean interfaces among the components built or bought. Information architecture is generally discussed at the logical and physical levels. In many companies. Entities are composed of attributes that when given value completely describe the entity. or instruction Data Level Integration using Extract. Once this clean decoupling is complete. study. account. . The logical information architecture represents the business entities used by the organization and their relationships to each other.knowledge obtained from investigation. Transform and Load (ETL) tools Message and/or Event Brokers Web services Information Architecture An organization's Information Architecture (IA) details the structure of all the information used by the organization. data warehouses. When the information is stored in relational databases the key structure of the information entities is specified as well as the foreign keys used to relate entities to each other.

riverton. It provides enterprise architecture.229.229. and business intelligence solutions.0070 Fax: 781.1138 ©2002 Riverton Corporation . custom application development. For more information on Riverton service offerings go to www. It has strong expertise with open standards such as J2EE and XML and incorporates industry best practices like RUP and UML in its delivery lifecycle. A companion article “Principles of a Good Architecture” presents some guidelines for assessing the completeness and utility of the architecture or send e-mail to Riverton Corporation One New England Executive Park Burlington. MA 01803 Tel: 781.Conclusion This white paper has presented a taxonomy for discussing Enterprise Architectures by outlining the parts of an EA and how they interrelate. Other issues surrounding Enterprise Architectures will be addressed by other white papers in this series. About Riverton Corporation Riverton is a specialized consulting and integration company focused on helping companies solve business challenges through the effective application of advanced technology since 1995. cross-enterprise integration.