Evolving into an Actionable Architecture Environment
<ul><li>The concept of Enterprise Architecture (EA) and its implications on the way a business and its operations are organized, have gained a major increase in corporate awareness. </li></ul><ul><li>More and more, IT is faced with justifying to the business group how technology can support its business goals -- both now and in the future. </li></ul><ul><li>An EA gives IT a way to incorporate best practices and experiences into decisions about technology investments, compliance, and emerging technologies, such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web Services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business Process Management (BPM). </li></ul></ul>
<ul><li>Let’s explore, the basic ideas of EA, the areas where it adds value to the decision making process, and its evolution towards an Actionable Architecture: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The "build and deploy" world of IT is disappearing as organizations seek ways to leverage technology as a strategic asset. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We must understand how IT projects are transitioning into broader enterprise initiatives and leverage that knowledge in our drive for success. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An EA has a direct impact on our agility in meeting regulatory challenges and adapt to changing economic environments. </li></ul></ul>
This has fostered a dramatic growth in EA, which is emerging as a key enabler for action. A comprehensive EA assists in understanding the relationships of systems, data, and resources -- to the broader business goals. The next evolution, an “Actionable Architecture”, takes this enterprise information and makes it useable, helping to understand its context, and how to use this knowledge to improve flexibility and responsiveness.
<ul><li>EA acts as a central access point for the capture and dissemination of IT and business process information, throughout all levels of the enterprise, as a means to improve decision making. </li></ul><ul><li>The term Actionable Architecture moves the EA from a static project to a central platform for the capture and dissemination of IT and business process information. </li></ul><ul><li>In essence, EA becomes a strategic foundation for knowledgeable decision making and is based on traceable facts in a repository. </li></ul>
<ul><li>This ability to share information for analysis and decision making has given rise to the concept of Actionable Architecture. In this view, the role of the EA is to act as a central access point for the capture and dissemination of IT and business process information throughout all levels of an organization as a means to improve how decisions are made. </li></ul><ul><li>The idea of Actionable Architecture takes EA and molds it into a communication platform that can bridge IT and business, moving an organization from “analysis paralysis” into action. </li></ul>
New advancements in tools and methodologies, such as visualization and Web publishing, provide improved IT analysis and communication. A repository acts as a central place where data is stored and maintained. It includes information about business processes, data and systems (including data elements, processes, inputs, outputs and interrelationships). Most importantly, the repository forms an integrated strategic information-base that supports traceability of data down to the technical or source level. Using a central repository shifts emphasis away from architecture and information ownership by a few IT resources - to - broad information sharing throughout the enterprise. This can take place via the Web, spreadsheets, or XML, and is generated from the same repository of data. Published information can be packaged and disseminated to different user groups for analysis and action.
<ul><li>Generally, information users or stakeholders are divided into three different interest levels: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategic (for asset strategy/portfolio management) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operational (for business process support) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical (for systems and applications, Web Services support). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A key part of the dissemination process is visualization. All data is captured in a central repository, from which relationships among systems, people, processes and data can be analyzed and visualized in graphic format. This enables us to access knowledge tailored to our needs and knowledge level. This in turn, drives an effective use of the information. </li></ul>
<ul><li>By integrating these diverse realms into a variety of views, better decisions can be made about areas ranging from technology investments and gap analysis -- to cost reductions and process efficiency. Information is now placed in the broader enterprise context. </li></ul><ul><li>Today's trend toward Actionable Architecture offers a tremendous advantage. This architecture can be used to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Capture and share best practices and experiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Streamline implementations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foster a full life cycle sharing of information to improve IT practices </li></ul></ul>
Driving this trend is the rise of architecture standards and methods, including Frameworks and Reference Models. These standards enable interoperability, communications, and collaboration at the enterprise level. Frameworks are a key part of any EA environment. They offer a commonly accepted classification system for EA and provide a systematic, comprehensive checklist of the resources, systems, processes, and internal and external factors that contribute to strategies and operations. Frameworks
<ul><li>Frameworks offer not only a standard approach and perspective, but a common vocabulary and a similar set of work products. They simplify the architecture development process into discrete, understandable pieces and help determine which systems and applications are tied to business needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Frameworks enable different IT groups to understand how systems support processes and strategies within the enterprise and offer a way to evaluate an IT portfolio. </li></ul><ul><li>Frameworks guide the technically complex process of integrating heterogeneous, multi-siloed, multi-vendor architectures. </li></ul>
<ul><li>In the commercial world, two popular frameworks are Zachman (a conceptual framework) and The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF), an open platform for developing process-driven architectures. </li></ul><ul><li>In the public sector, there are frameworks such as the Department of Defense Architectural Framework (DODAF), the newest evolution of the C4ISR framework, and the Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) framework (with Reference Models), that provide guidelines for architecture development. </li></ul>
Role of Standards <ul><li>Standards are an important aspect of EA. In IT, standards represent the best practices based on the combined knowledge of a community of industry experts. </li></ul><ul><li>They offer other advantages such as improved data sharing, interoperability, accuracy and information assurance. Modeling standards range from the Unified Modeling Language (UML) for requirements, analysis & design, implementation, and deployment modeling, Entity Relationship (E/R) Diagrams in data modeling and the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) for business process modeling. </li></ul><ul><li>The rise of Web Services has resulted in the introduction of new standards, such as Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs). </li></ul>
<ul><li>EA integrates these modeling standards into a framework such as those previously described. </li></ul><ul><li>This will give the flexibility of selecting the most appropriate modeling techniques, yet draw on an expertise that is widely used and understood in the IT world. </li></ul><ul><li>Standards also enable a smoother transition to emerging technologies. For example, many organizations are adopting Web Services as an IT technology. SOAs enable the evolution from tightly coupled applications to network-based functionality. </li></ul>
<ul><li>An EA enables IT architects to understand the role of SOA within the IT operations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Where does SOA make sense? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will it be implemented? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will it support future IT operations? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the security issues surrounding the SOA implementation? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>An SOA is defined as a collection of many services that build into a larger business flow. It is used to tie together disparate, heterogeneous, loosely coupled systems. </li></ul>
<ul><li>They link software "artifacts" in a flexible, logical way that seamlessly supports daily business interactions between everyday applications such as documents, transactional applications and collaborative systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Using the EA, we can analyze how SOAs can help add new functionality without limiting future choices. An SOA can be incorporated to promote agility, productivity and efficiency and support better, faster, less costly application construction. </li></ul>
Standards also enable a smoother transition to emerging technologies. For example, the adoption of Web Services as an IT technology. SOAs enable the evolution from tightly coupled applications to network-based functionality.
EA's Value in Decision Support <ul><li>The value of EA is increasingly recognized as more than a tool for information capture. Information that is captured in a repository but not disseminated in a meaningful way to key stakeholder groups, is not taking advantage of EA as a strategic asset. </li></ul><ul><li>The evolution of architecture is a result of the changing IT environment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Projects are evolving from single-technology solutions into broader enterprise initiatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Projects must be directly tied to business goals. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The distribution of valuable information to internal groups, so they can take action, is critical to the success of an EA program. </li></ul>
<ul><li>As mentioned, architecture information can be useful in decision areas such as IT and other technology investments, compliance, as well as other initiatives that promote the alignment of IT and business. </li></ul><ul><li>There are six areas where EA can add significant value: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Financial Controls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Portfolio Management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Configuration/Process Transfer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulatory Compliance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IT Architecture </li></ul></ul>
Financial Controls <ul><li>The “stand-alone” financial system with a single purpose is a relic of the past. The rise of ERP-type systems confirmed that back-end operations, especially financials, need to be tied to broader business goals or strategies. That’s where EA comes in. </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture provides a master blueprint for a systematic approach to choosing, managing and evaluating IT investments. It provides common elements to ensure a consistent and predictable flow of information. A master blueprint gives the information to successfully manage IT portfolios and transitions to Web-based IT. </li></ul>
Now days, CIOs, CTOs, and CAOs must show how their existing and proposed IT infrastructure costs are justified through business cases. As we seek to meet regulatory requirements or improve agility during changing market conditions, an enterprise blueprint gives the information needed to analyze major systems development projects and infrastructure upgrades.
Portfolio Management <ul><li>In today’s world, Portfolio Management has emerged as a key IT initiative. Portfolio Management can be defined as managing a set of IT assets over their life cycle. </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluating a portfolio is a complex process where we explore the value of the future performance of the technology as well as the tradeoff between this value and the risk. </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture facilitates the gathering of critical information into a common format. This enables the development of an enterprise view of an IT infrastructure. Information about network configuration, applications and business process can be compiled and analyzed to answer questions about systems. </li></ul>
In many cases, this information can be visualized to show relationship maps, dashboards, scorecards and graphs. The underlying repository ties this information directly to the IT infrastructure, making it easy to trace relationships back to the original source. This bottom-up/top-down integrated approach ensures a smooth line of communication and collaboration.
Communication <ul><li>Often overlooked in considering an EA, communication is critical to Actionable Architecture. The EA provides a common vocabulary, methodologies, and techniques for the development of a blueprint. </li></ul><ul><li>This establishes a common platform for analysis and collaboration and eliminates the miscommunications that can occur by decentralized data collection. </li></ul><ul><li>With one common repository, information can be shared in an understandable format for analysis. </li></ul>
Architecture information can be tailored to address many different user perspectives, but all drawn from the same source. Publishing this information - whether on the Web or in simple paper reports - becomes a key part of the collaboration process and fosters feedback from various stakeholder groups, whether they are within or outside IT.
Configuration/Process Transfer <ul><li>EA has undergone a significant evolution in the area of application configuration. As we look to automate how we transfer process knowledge, architecture provides the means to transfer this information directly into the application, via the practice of Business Process modeling. </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture information can help us guide configuration of both applications and business processes. Architecture information provides an overview of the migration, including processes. </li></ul><ul><li>Technical Architects can understand the transfer of the information in an enterprise context. </li></ul>
Two standards, the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) and the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) are key to the success of the migration of knowledge. Developed by the BPMI.org, BPMN brings together best practices from the modeling industry to offer an easier way to develop Business Process models. It offers a standard representation that shows higher-level processes by merging elements across a wide variety of process semantics into a single notation. BPMN consists of one diagram, the Business Process diagram. It is designed to be easy to understand and use, thus providing the ability to model complex processes.
<ul><li>To model a business process flow, the events that occur to start a process, the processes performed along the way and results of the process flow are modeled. </li></ul><ul><li>The advantages of BPMN are many: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BPMN aggregates the best practices of many industries and experts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It provides the structure to model processes for improved efficiency, while capturing records and process audits for compliance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Woven together with core processing systems, BPMN provides a flexible foundation to: Change processes, Create high degrees of automation, Increase visibility, Improve efficiency, and Reduce costs </li></ul></ul>
Regulatory Compliance <ul><li>Government mandates like Sarbanes-Oxley or the Clinger Cohen Act, the Office Management of Budget (OMB) Exhibit 300 in the federal government, and state Sunshine Laws, are placing more demands to track, analyze and share financial and technology information. </li></ul><ul><li>Other demands may result from the need to demonstrate how we adhere to health, personal, and financial data protection regulations. </li></ul><ul><li>We increasingly need a strategic-level understanding of how technology is supporting financial processes, goals and the business case for technology investments and process improvements. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The complexity of these mandates, requires an enterprise view, the ability to extract discrete pieces from within the repository, and assemble them into a compliance view. </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture enables users to extract information from the repository, assemble a compliance view, establish a repeatable process, validate process flow, provide analysis tools for operational decisions and publish information via Web reports or system-to-system via XML. </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture enables us to consolidate our architecture and compliance efforts into one place and automate the gathering and generation of information. This enables us to better understand the changing requirements of these compliance regulations as part of our development process. </li></ul>
Business Process modeling and EA can both be used as part of a compliance program. The architectures help identify and measure risk areas and determine if mitigation procedures are in place. Business Process simulation can be carried out using the gathered data to examine how potential changes at different points affect other areas. Simulation helps measure risks and predicts the cost of failed processes, thus enabling quantification of different potential risk scenarios. These predictions may highlight the need for additional IT investments, demonstrate inefficient or redundant applications or indicate where processes should be re-engineered. The key to making sound decisions based on business process simulation is the integrity of the original data gathered in the central repository.
IT Architecture <ul><li>EA is the next natural step in today's world. It ties together the different types of architecture into a cohesive view that crosses departmental boundaries, such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Technical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information/Data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Application/Development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business Architectures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Using one shared architecture platform, the “enterprise reference” architecture can be developed. This facilitates collaboration and a more global view of an organization from a strategic perspective. It provides a guideline for technology and investment as it evolves. </li></ul>
It also helps IT - from executives to technicians - understand the context of decisions.
Actionable Architecture and Decision Support <ul><li>Architecture development guidance, using industry-proven frameworks and standards, combined with compliant architecture tools, are essential to the development of EA. Various architectural views can be leveraged in a variety of beneficial ways. By visualizing the factual data captured in the repository, we can view the impact of different decisions. </li></ul><ul><li>The architectures, along with analytical tools and methods, deliver actionable information and are used to improve how technology decisions, acquisitions, systems engineering, and investment strategies are analyzed and acted upon. </li></ul><ul><li>Architecture provides a central repository to capture, analyze and visually communicate information. </li></ul>
<ul><li>It provides the ability to visualize relationships among systems, applications, data and business processes, and an integrated strategic information base for powerful decision-making. </li></ul><ul><li>Even more essential in our increasingly complex world, EA provides support for traceability of data in the repository and the sharing of architecture information via the Web to empower various stakeholder groups to make smarter, faster decisions. </li></ul><ul><li>To be successful, people within the organization need the right information, at the right time, in the right format, at the right place. </li></ul><ul><li>The information must be delivered securely, reliably and in a timely manner. This is Actionable Architecture’s goal. </li></ul>
<ul><li>It delivers information tailored to the user so that it can be acted upon. </li></ul><ul><li>Actionable Architecture offers several strategic advantages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fewer, more powerful, integrated systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integration of systems engineering into a broader enterprise view. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Context for understanding the delivery of information to the right place at the right time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Better support for analysis and decision-making </li></ul></ul>
Conclusion <ul><li>The "build and deploy" world of IT is slowly disappearing as organizations seeks to leverage technology as a strategic asset. To fully participate in the changing landscape, one must be flexible and responsive enough to take into account, emerging technologies, as well as changing political and economic environments. </li></ul><ul><li>IT is increasingly being called on to justify technology as a cost center and show how technology can be better utilized as a strategic asset. Additionally, IT is being asked to explain how portfolio management and compliance programs tie to the success of the overall business. </li></ul>
<ul><li>This trend is apparent as, more and more, IT budgets are awarded based on business case justification. CIOs and CTOs require a clear understanding of IT’s relationship to their organization’s goals and missions, to receive funding. </li></ul><ul><li>In this fast-paced world, we understand how IT projects are transitioning into broader enterprise initiatives that drive business success. That's where Actionable Architecture can add a strategic foundation for knowledgeable decision making, based on facts. </li></ul><ul><li>For any organization that desires to understand the relationships of its systems, data, and resources -- to its broader business goals, EA is a key enabler for action. </li></ul>
The ability to respond to the ever increasing demand for increased efficiency and operational excellence is a key success factor for any organization. Actionable Architecture gives a complete view of data, applications, and business architectures, across all organizational entities. Decision makers are provided with the right information, at the right time, in the right format, and at the right place, to be able to decide on the right response to emerging technologies as well as changing political, resource, and economic conditions. Strategic decisions are now based on an aligned view of assets, needs, and constraints -- and will therefore lead to sustainable success as we move forward.