Blended approach key to good enterprise architecture
Analyst firm Gartner has argued that the challenge before enterprises is not to create a perfect architecture for the moment, but to craft an approach that will adapt best for the future.
Gartner has identified four basic approaches to enterprise architecture (EA) - traditional, federated, middle out and managed diversity. It says by 2015, 95% of organisations will support a mixture of more than one of these approaches to EA.
"Businesses are realising that there is no one way to support EA," said Julie Short, research director at Gartner. "Decisions may be heavily influenced by a business context and the organisation’s business landscape, people and politics, future state vision and experience.
Here is a brief overview of Gartner's four approaches to EA:
Traditional approach is for centralised organisations and includes most of the standard industry frameworks and processes.
Federated approach is for large, complex and decentralised organisations. EA teams define the core and common elements between business units.
Managed-diversity architecture is focused on defining choices. It balances the need for standards with the need for a diversity of solutions and allows users to select the right tool for the job.
In Middle-out architecture, EA team defines small but rigid interface standards and delegates decision making for the specific technologies. This approach is for organisations where the business units, partners, and suppliers are not under the direct control of a central EA team.
"The reality is that most organisations do not apply a single approach to EA in a pure form," said Betsy Burton, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "Rather, they use a number of different approaches in different areas, resulting in a blended reality that truly meets the needs of their business."