Enterprise architecture develops the architecture for the enterprise, right? You’d think that’s a no-brainer. Except what happens when the enterprise is so large and complex that it defies the efforts to architect it?
Federal Computer Week (FCW), 24 March 2008 reports that Dennis Wisnosky, the chief architect and chief technical officer for DoD’s Business Mission Areas states that “the Department [of Defense (DoD)] is too large an organization to attempt to encompass all of its activities in a single enterprise architecture.”
Similarly, FCW, 26 November 2007, reported that “the size of the Navy Department and the diversity of its missions make it impossible to describe the service in a single integrated architecture.”
Dennis Wisnosky goes on to say that “DoD must achieve business transformation by breaking off manageable components of an enterprise architecture rather than trying to cover everything at once…[this is how we will achieve] the goal of an enterprise architecture [which] is to guide future acquisition and implementation.”
Richard Burk, former chief architect of the Federal EA (FEA) at OMB states: “there is no practical way to create a useful architecture for a large organization. You can get an overall picture of an agency using an [enterprise architecture] of everything the agency does, but when you get down to making it operational, at that point you really need to break it down into segments, into the lines of business.”
The Navy is using the concept of segment architecture, but is calling it “architecture federation.”
Michael Jacob, the Navy’s chief technology officer, “compared the architecture effort to the development of a city plan, in which multiple buildings are built separately, but to the same set of standards and inspection criteria.”
Mr. Jacob continues that “our effort will allow common core architecture elements [technical standards, mission areas, business processes, and data taxonomies] to be identified so that architecture efforts can be aligned to those same standards.”
I believe that every level of an organization, including the highest level, can have a architecture, no matter what the size, and that we should tailor that architecture to the scope of the organization involved. So for an organization the mega-size of DoD, you would have very little detail in at the highest level, EA (like the FEA Practice Guidance demonstrates), but that the detail would build as you decompose to subsequent layers.
For any organization, no matter its size, every level of the architecture is important.
Within the enterprise architecture itself we need multiple views of detail. For example, from an executive view, we want and need to be able to roll up organizational information into summary “profiles” that executives can quickly digest and use to hit core decision points. At the same, time, from a mid-level manager or analyst view, we want and need to be able to drill down on information—to decompose it into models and inventory views–so that we can analyze it and get the details we need to make a rational decision.
Similarly, within the overall architecture, we need the various views of enterprise, segment, and solutions architecture. The enterprise view is looking at strategic outcomes for the overall enterprise; the segment view decomposes this into actionable architectures for the lines of business; and the solutions architecture “brings it all home” and operationalizes the architectures into actual solutions.
Just like with the profiles, models, and inventories of enterprise architecture where we can roll-up or down, the key with these various architectural levels is that there is line-of-sight from the enterprise to the segment and to the solution. The lower levels must align to and comply with the levels above. This is how we achieve integration, interoperability, standardization, and modernization.