Snowball Battles Hair BallBy Bob Rhubart
Oracle enterprise architecture framework builds momentum and value.
The Center for Information Systems Research of MIT’s Sloan School of Management defines enterprise architecture as “the organizing logic for business processes and IT infrastructure reflecting the integration and standardization requirements of the firm’s operating model.”
Sounds important, right? Some organizations, however, don’t see it that way. “They look at architecture as overhead, and many of them don’t even have an individual or a department to address it,” says Oracle ACE Director Basheer Khan, CEO of Innowave Technology.
Other organizations might think they have an enterprise architecture, but they instead have what Oracle ACE Jordan Braunstein describes as a “hair ball.”
“I can’t tell you how many customers I work with who think that their current architecture is OK,” says Braunstein, business integration and architecture partner at Rolta TUSC. “And they’re sitting there telling me they’re losing transactions. Not only are they losing transactions, but they don’t know where to look for them.”
Convincing the unenlightened to take enterprise architecture seriously takes more than just talk. “At the end of the day, it’s not enough if we paint a pretty picture,” says Khan. “We need to have the tools and the wherewithal to make the picture a reality.”
Enterprise Architecture for Real
Bob Covington and Hamza Jahangir are doing their part to frame that reality. Covington and Jahangir are directors of enterprise architecture in Oracle’s Enterprise Solutions Group and were instrumental in the creation of the Oracle enterprise architecture framework.
Covington, Jahangir, and their colleagues were getting calls for help from customers who were having difficulty rolling multiple solution architectures into cohesive enterprise architectures. And that help had to extend beyond the Oracle perspective to encompass other technologies.
“So our organization set out to create a framework that would help jump-start enterprise architecture,” says Covington. “Our goal wasn’t to replace any of the existing enterprise architectures, like TOGAF [the Open Group Architecture Framework] or FEA [Federal Enterprise Architecture] or Gartner, but to provide a tool that could expedite the process of implementing enterprise architecture.”
The Oracle enterprise architecture framework team created a just-enough, just-in-time framework that will allow an enterprise to get started with enterprise architecture without getting bogged down in unnecessary processes, paperwork, and artifacts.
“Our goal,” says Jahangir, “was not to build a framework for the sake of building a framework but to really look at the end results, to be very solution- and business value-oriented, and then reverse-engineer a framework that fits that principle.”
The resulting Oracle enterprise architecture framework is more than a collection of easily ignored, quickly forgotten documents.
“We’re not looking at it as yet another set of documents or artifacts that just gets published and uploaded into a repository,” says Jahangir. “We’re looking at what needs to be built and what needs to be addressed at a certain point in time to progress you toward creating value for your business.”
Just Enough, Just in Time
That just-enough, just-in-time focus is part of a mission to overcome the perception that enterprise architecture is just too big. Shrinking budgets and reduced staff can also make enterprise architecture appear to be too much to handle.
“Because of that, a lot of organizations tend to implement just solution architectures,” says Covington, “and they don’t take advantage of the economies and the value associated with an enterprise architecture.”
Using the Oracle enterprise architecture framework, an organization can gain economies of scale by merging two or three solution architectures, using those savings to continue and expand that process. “So you get a snowball effect that allows you to incrementally expand the value of enterprise architecture in your organization,” Covington says.
It doesn’t take an MIT scientist to see how such a snowball might be an effective weapon against hair-ball architecture.
Bob Rhubart (firstname.lastname@example.org) is manager of the architect community on Oracle Technology Network (OTN), the host of the OTN Arch2Arch podcast series, and the author of the ArchBeat blog (blogs.oracle.com/archbeat).