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Gartner Predicts 95 Per Cent of Organisations Will Support Multiple Approaches to Enterprise Architecture by 2015
Gartner Analysts to Explore the Right Approaches to Enterprise Architecture at the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit 2010, 17-18 May in London
"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. Regardless of the approach, EA must facilitate change. The key is to create, not the perfect or elegant architecture for the moment, but the most adaptable architecture for the future."
Gartner has identified four basic approaches to EA - traditional, federated, middle out and managed diversity. Analysts said that the majority of clients will, in reality, support a mixture of more than one of these approaches based on their business needs.
Traditional - In this approach, the EA team engages the organisation to facilitate the EA process, focused on prescriptive content that serves to guide project decision making consistent with the "master plan" embodied in the architecture. Most of the standard industry frameworks and processes support a traditional approach to EA which delivers very specific directives to projects on how to develop solutions that will meet business requirements, while reducing complexity in technology, information and business processes. This approach tends to work well in organisations where decision making is largely centralised and are relatively stable in terms of the pace of change. It does not work as well in organisations where decisionmaking and authority are distributed and where the pace of business change is high.
Federated - In large, complex organisations, decision making is often largely decentralised, with business units having considerable autonomy over the EA that is required to support the needs of their particular business unit. A federated architecture is focused on defining the core and common elements between business areas/units. This approach is well suited to distributed organisations and this is an approach that is often post merger & acquisition or market consolidation to implement a more coordinated strategy. This approach is less effective in highly centralised organisations with a homogeneous business.
Managed diversity - Manageddiversity architecture is focused on defining choices or options. This EA approach is focused on balancing the need for a set of standards with the need for a diversity of solutions to increase innovation, business growth and competitive advantage. Project teams can decide which product best fits the project needs, rather than having a single standard imposed on them. The advantage of this approach is that it enables users and project teams to select the right tool for the job, enabling innovation through diversity. The disadvantage of this approach is that users and project teams must accept more responsibility for their choices.
Middleout - Middleout architecture is an approach to EA whereby architects focus on managing the key dependencies among those parts of the organisation that have the biggest impact on the ability to change. A middleout approach focuses on architecting interoperability by defining a small but rigidly enforced set of general, stable interface standards, while allowing complete autonomy of decision making for the specific technologies and products that are used within the solutions. This approach is highly suited for organisations and "business ecosystems," 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."
With a blended approach to EA, organisations seek to determine the appropriate balance of architectural control and freedom by applying the appropriate EA approach. This means that the EA team needs to determine a decision framework that enables them to evaluate and weigh which approach for any given solution, technology, information or business may be the most appropriate.
Ms Burton and Ms Short will be speaking at the Gartner Enterprise Applications Summit 2010 which takes place 17-18 May in London. For further information about the conference please visit www.europe.gartner.com/ea. Additional information from the event will be shared on Twitter at http://twitter.com/... using #GartnerEA.
About Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit 2010
For many organisations, traditional approaches to EA are no longer relevant. The Summit will cover new dimensions of EA, from uptothe minute advances in hybrid thinking and Pattern-Based Strategy(TM) to architecting the connected organisation from the outside in. For further information on the Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit 2010 taking place on 17-18 May in London, please visit www.europe.gartner.com/ea
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