by Alan Levine
Part of the Oracle Experiences in Enterprise Architecture article series
Published February 2011
Enterprise IT is in a state of constant evolution. As a result, business processes and technologies become increasingly more difficult to change and more costly to keep up-to-date. The solution to this predicament is an Enterprise Architecture (EA) process that can provide a framework for an optimized IT portfolio. Oracle's IT Optimization strategy is based on a comprehensive set of architectural principles that ensure consistency and make IT more responsive, efficient and economical.
The rationalization, standardization, and consolidation process helps organizations understand their current EA maturity level and move forward on the appropriate roadmap. As they undertake the IT Optimization journey, the IT architecture matures through several stages, leveraging IT Optimization Architecture Principles to attain each level of maturity.
The first step involves helping a company develop its architecture vision and operating model, with attention to cost, globalization, investiture, or whatever is driving the company strategically. Once that vision is in place, enterprise architects can guide the organization through an iterative process of rationalization, consolidation, and eventually shared-services and cloud computing.
The rationalization exercise helps an organization identify what standards to move towards as they eliminate the complexities and silos they have built up over the years, along with the specific technologies that will help them get there.
Depending on the company, Rationalization could start with a technical discussion and be IT-driven; or it could start at a business level. For example, a company might have distributed operations across the globe and desire to consolidate and standardize its business processes. That could drive change in the IT portfolio. Or a company that has gone through mergers and acquisitions might have redundant business processes to rationalize.
Rationalizing involves understanding the current state of an organization's IT portfolio and business processes, and then mapping business capabilities to IT capabilities. This is done by developing scoring criteria to analyze the current portfolio, and ultimately by deciding on the standards that will propel the organization forward. Standards are the outcome of a rationalization exercise.
Standardized technology represents the second level of EA maturity. Organizations at this level have evolved beyond isolated independent silos. They have well-defined corporate governance and procurement policies, which yields measurable cost savings through reduced software licenses and the elimination of redundant systems and skill sets.
Consolidation entails reducing the footprint of your IT portfolio. That could involve consolidating the number of database servers, application servers and storage devices, consolidating redundant security platforms, or adopting virtualization, grid computing and related consolidation initiatives.
Consolidation may be a by-product of another technology transformation, or it may be the driver of these transformations. But whatever motivates the change, the key is to be in alignment with the overall business strategy. Enterprise architects understand where the business is going so they can pick the appropriate consolidation strategy.
One of the key outcomes of a rationalization and consolidation exercise is the creation of a strategic roadmap that continually keeps IT in line with where the business is going.
Having a roadmap is especially important when you move down the path to shared services and cloud computing. For a company that has a very complex IT infrastructure and application portfolio, having a strategic roadmap helps the organization to move forward incrementally, minimizing risk and giving the IT department every opportunity to deliver value to the business.
About the Author
Alan Levine is a Senior Director of Enterprise Architecture with Oracle Corporation.