Enterprise architecture heads north: report from Open Group

John Meyer of The Open Group sent some detailed dispatches from the group’s 23rd Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference, being held this week in Toronto. Thanks to John for a great job summarizing many of the key insights coming from the conference -- some highlights from day one are summarized below:Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group, kicked off the conference with a keynote address about his organization’s use of The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF).

John Meyer of The Open Group sent some detailed dispatches from the group’s 23rd Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference, being held this week in Toronto. Thanks to John for a great job summarizing many of the key insights coming from the conference -- some highlights from day one are summarized below:

Allen Brown, President and CEO of The Open Group, kicked off the conference with a keynote address about his organization’s use of The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF). Brown began his presentation with an overview of the key business drivers for embracing TOGAF, and the unique challenges experienced along the way by small organizations that lack the resources to hire an enterprise architect or purchase the standard implementation tools. In addition, Brown illustrated how The Open Group has incorporated the Operating Model from the book, "Enterprise Architecture as Strategy" and how they also used OMG's UML.

Following Brown’s keynote, Alain Perry, Treasury Board Secretariat, Chief Information Officer Branch for the Canadaian government, delivered a presentation on the collaborative nature of the Canadian Government’s EA program, which spans 130 different agencies and 350,000 people. Perry provided a comprehensive overview of the Canadian Government’s Reference Model for enterprise architecture, which he and his team are building as the basis for EA throughout the entire country. Perry also explained that Canada has standardized on TOGAF 9, and has already begun to see benefits from the standard by developing a common taxonomy for enterprise architects agency-wide and among the Canadian governments IT service consultants.

Jane Varnus, Enterprise Architect for Bank of Montreal and Navdeep Panaich, Enterprise Architect for Capgemini, UK, presented results from The Open Group’s TOGAF 9 Survey. Ms. Varnus and Mr. Panaich conducted the survey to identify a baseline of common patterns across different Open Group member organizations that are using TOGAF 9. The majority of nearly 100 respondents represented IT consulting companies or very large enterprises, spread across 17 countries. For a summary of findings, you can view the survey report here.

Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions and ZDNet Blogger, moderated the closing plenary session of the day, “Architecture’s Scope Extends Beyond the Enterprise.” Panelists included:Dr. John Gotze, President of the Association of Enterprise Architects; Tim Westbrock, Managing Director, EAdirections; and Sandy Kemsley, independent analyst and blogger. The panelists debated and dissected the issues related to the architect’s changing role and their influence on how IT services are used as the profession matures.

John Gotze made an interesting observation: "During this recession, we’ve seen the chief executive essentially play the role of an enterprise architect. He also said that "it’s time to move on from business/IT alignment to a more coherent enterprise."

Tim Westbrock raised a point I have frequently raised here at this blogsite, that the transformative aspects of technology is a big task for EAs:

"I don’t think that the expectations for most enterprise architects are to enable business transformation," Westbrock said. "Most expectations are much more tactical and solutions focused. This needs to change." He also talked about "one of the good transformative steps I’ve seen in EA is its expansion beyond the technology. However business architecture is nowhere near mainstream yet."

Sandy Kemsley also observed that "there’s a struggle between IT architects and enterprise architects around cloud computing and other IT services. If you don’t get enterprise architecture outside of IT these problems are going to become unmanageable.... I don’t see the business clamoring to take over enterprise architecture anytime soon because it’s seen as primarily IT."

Open Group Fellow Walter Stahlecker introduced the parallel stream, “Holistic Enterprise Architecture and the Role of Business”. One of Stahlecker’s primary research observations is that architects more often than not focus inward on their distinct discipline, and neglect alignment with other disciplines. He argued that the future of true business architecture is dependent upon architects to look at the bigger picture and align their efforts with the work of other enterprise architects, IT leaders and business stakeholders within their organizations.

John Gotze also provided a presentation based on the key themes and recommendations outlined in his new book: “Coherency Management and the Future of Enterprise Architecture.” Gotze prefaced the presentation, arguing that EA is really about enabling organizations to explicitly design, measure, manage and enhance their coherency. As the role and influence of EA grows beyond its traditional technology boundaries, Gotze believes it has the potential to emerge as a meta-discipline providing an over-arching approach to organizational coherence. Gotze concluded that TOGAF 9 is a major leap forward in achieving greater coherency, but that there’s still a great distance to go.

Paul van der Merwe, COO for Real IRM, South Africa, delivered an enterprise architecture case study on business transformation, which shared the experience of the EA team at a large energy company. By understanding the various stakeholders within the company and their respective viewpoints, the team was able to generate views out of their architecture repository that enabled legitimate business transformation.

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