'SOA supplants enterprise architecture,' and four other EA myths exposed

SOA may only address a narrow portion of architectural requirements.

Chris Curran recently spoke on the five myths that businesspeople and technologists can't seem to shake out of their heads about enterprise architecture. Much of this comes out of misunderstandings of what IT is supposed to bring to the table, but, interestingly, there are growing misperceptions about the relationship between SOA and EA.

Here is what he and Chris Boult told attendees at a recent CIO gathering, in an effort to shatter these ongoing myths:

1. EA is what IT uses to plan its technology: "When technology leads, it’s not enterprise architecture," it's simply a technology project, Curran and Boult say.

2. You can’t measure it: Yes, an effective business-driven EA effort should be measurable. "What can and should be measured is progress in delivering the prioritized business capabilities developed during planning," Curran and Boult say.

3. Architects only pontificate, they don’t work: Laughable, and definitely not the case, they point out. EAs are extremely knowledgeable about what the business needs, but are often kept out of the loop, and thus fated to endless useless meetings.  Good companies keep EAs close to the action. "This way, they are on the ground adding their expertise every day."

4. EA doesn’t work with Software Development Lifecycles: Actually, Curran and Boult point out, "EA processes should live in two places -- "high-level business strategy directions and priorities, and embedded in program, project and SDLC management processes to ensure that the cross system blueprints are implemented in each initiative as envisioned."

5. If you subscribe to SOA, you don’t need EA: Just because you have service oriented architecture doesn't mean you have enterprise architecture, Curran and Boult observe.  "Choosing an SOA model will only address a small portion of the overall technical architecture, and may not be needed or relevant for some business areas."

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