WIKIPEDIA: Enterprise architecture is a well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a holistic approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy.

GARTNER: Enterprise architecture is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating, and improving the key principles and models that describe the enterprise's future state and enable its evolution.

FORRESTER: Enterprise architecture consists of the vision, principles and standards that guide the purchase and deployment of technology within an enterprise.

THE OPEN GROUP: Enterprise architecture is a discipline that helps the enterprise define, develop and exploit the capabilities in order to achieve the enterprise’s strategic Intent. An ‘enterprise’ is any collection of organizations that has a common set of goals and/or a single bottom line.

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    Enterprise Architecture Middle Out
enterprise architecture middle out approach


In my previous post I talked about the two basic different approaches that you can use to start applying Enterprise Architecture. This post is describing another option called the Middle Out.

Middle Out
The middle out is a very most common approach getting started with Enterprise Architecture. One of the reasons is that this middle layer is already shared by both business and technology people already. I am talking about the Application layer. With the Middle Out you focus on the strategic planning value of EA but also on the operational insights.


So what are the key ingredients you need to look for to assess if this approach is a good choice?

• One of early wins outcomes of a middle out approach is an application inventory (or application catalog in TOGAF terminology). Would this be of value to your organization?

• The second driver for Middle Out is application rationalization. Even if an existing inventory exists is the consensus within the organization that we have a large number of overlapping and/or redundant applications? So it is taking the application catalog/inventory and enabling optimization of this. A first step towards application portfolio management

As you can see the business driver for Middle Out is more IT driven but not operational IT more business planning IT. A subtle but important distinction as the bottom up approach tailor to the operational IT side.


So now that we covered the 3 basic different approach the killer conclusion comes. I started with describing the different options and giving insight to assess if a certain option is feasible. In my personal experience however the reality is that EA implementations need to leverage multiple approach simultaneously. At least 2 but often all 3 are applied during EA practice setup and built out.

1. Apply Top Down when working on developing technology strategies and roadmaps to enable certain business strategies, to core of what TOGAF ADM is all about.

2. Apply Bottom Up to be able to define your architecture standards. The hardest part here is where you draw the line, how far down the rabbit hole of standards do you want to go? My personal experience is stay away from the physical level and also the specific version level. I believe a CMDB is much better suited for those details.

3. Apply Middle Out as it is my strong belief that Application Portfolio Management is a MUST for EA. So create that application inventory, start rationalizing etc.


From an enterprise architecture tools perspective the Middle Out approach requires the tool to include portfolio management functionality. I am not referring to project/initiative portfolio management but an ability for you to manage your portfolio architecture building blocks. A single place where you can access a 360 view of each application component, view the relationships it has with other components and extended attributes you want to record.

Now one thing you might have noticed is that I haven’t talked a lot about Information, well that is because I am dedicating a specific post on EA and Information.

Hope you like this read and it is helpful in your EA journey.

Daniel
Founder WhiteCloud Software, creator of EAComposer


keywords: enterprise architecture, enterprise architecture approach, enterprise architecture tools

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