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Enterprise architects of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your roadmaps

Enterprise architecture needs to move as fast as the business, thought leader urges.

There are four Rs that define what enterprise architecture can and should do for today's software-defined businesses. And "roadmap" is not one of those.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

"Re-invent" would be appropriate term. Justin Arbuckle, vice president and chief enterprise architect for Chef, calls upon enterprise architects to re-invent their roles within enterprises. Why? Because every business is now a software business, and success depends on rapid delivery and response to customer needs.

The core of IT is now DevOps, and the name of the game is speed to market -- turning technology around as fast as the business needs it. There isn't time for long deliberative processes and roadmaps, Arbuckle argues. Roadmaps quickly become outdated in today's digital businesses.

In a compelling post, he outlines the four Rs that need to define today's EA (which doesn't include re-invent, by the way -- so I'll suggest it as a fifth "R") .

Review: Arbuckle recommends having an architecture review body to keep everyone on the same page. "Much of the change we need to drive, whether as engineers or architects, needs to be prefaced with great gobs of education. Rather than coming from on high, open discussions between people working on important projects is the most effective way of seeing the change in thinking occurring as well as to seed it."

Renew: Always be open to new approaches and technologies, Arbuckle recommends. "Everyone has their favorite language. Enterprise architects again can facilitate a useful conversation on alternatives.... Today's successful EAs lead projects that produce an MVP using new technology."

Refactor. "Traditionally if we want to deploy a large HR system implementation, we would spend a great deal of time collecting requirements, arguing with the vendor about how much those customization would cost, waiting for the changes to be delivered and then hoping it all works as advertised on the infrastructure you ordered 18 months ago," Arbuckle says. "What is possible and preferable is instead deploying even this behemoth in small batches... The EA needs to evangelize, promote, and drive this process of changing how we practice the evolution of technology in our business."

Resilience. "What kind of organization do we want to create? The EA needs to define what resilience both technically and culturally means for the technology organization." Good examples of resilient organization are emergency rooms and airline flight decks, he points out. Hallmarks of resilience include tracking small failures, resisting oversimplification, being sensitive to operations, and deferring to expertise.