Organization led by IST professor reaches consensus on enterprise architecture

An increasing number of organizations are turning to the evolving practice of enterprise architecture (EA) to deal with the rapid pace of change in almost every industry. Individual organizations offer many perspectives on the definition of enterprise architecture and its value to an organization, but the lack of conformity contributes to confusion about the field. The Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO), an association that was conceived by Brian Cameron, executive director of the Center for Enterprise Architecture at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), has published a deliverable document that aims to provide an international perspective on enterprise architecture.

The FEAPO ”Common Perspective on Enterprise Architecture” paper is available in the latest edition of Architecture & Governance Magazine (http://architectureandgovernance.com/currentissue).

”This is the first time that 17 professional organizations from around the globe have come together and ratified something of this nature,” said Cameron, who serves as president of FEAPO. “This is a big step forward in the professionalization of the discipline of enterprise architecture. “

“Enterprise architecture” is a phrase that the article uses to describe the range of activities and artifacts for translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise. Those components include creating, communicating and improving the key requirements, principles and models that describe the enterprise and enable its evolution.

“The EA perspective article is a broad statement of consensus among a very diverse group of organizations composed of EA professionals and a significant achievement toward ‘one face’ for EA given that diversity,” said Richard Martin, delegate to FEAPO from the International Council on Systems Engineering and a member of the FEAPO Board of Directors.

“One of the challenges for enterprise architects and a topic that comes up in many discussions is “What do enterprise architects do?,” said Mark Lane, president of the Center for the Advancement of the Enterprise Architecture Profession, a founding FEAPO member and co-chair of the Strategy and Roadmap committee. “This paper presents an unambiguous perspective on the boundaries and differentiating factors, which enable the EA profession to mature and prosper.”

Chartered in June 2011, FEAPO has grown to include 17 organizations that have an active interest in the practice and advancement of enterprise architecture. FEAPO is a worldwide association of professional organizations which have come together to provide a forum to collaborate, professionalize, and otherwise advance the discipline of EA.

“It is next to impossible to have 17 people agree on anything on any given day,” said Andy Chen, president of Catronic Computer Consultant Services, delegate to FEAPO from the IEEE Computer Society, and a member of the FEAPO Board of Directors. “It is truly amazing that 17 international organizations representing different aspects of enterprise architecture came together and agreed to share a common perspective of this emerging field.”

In order for enterprise architecture to evolve into a “true profession” like accounting or engineering, Cameron said, broad agreement on the nature and benefits of the profession must be reached. The definition of enterprise architecture that is outlined in the perspective paper will update the current definition of EA that is listed in Wikipedia. The paper is “groundbreaking,” he added, because it integrates the many perspectives and definitions of EA into a coherent, unified document.

“We’re trying to get past all the fragmentation and noise and start to form some international consensus and perspective,” Cameron said.

The paper was born out of a need to create a notable and trusted description of enterprise architecture for non-architects, said Nick Malik, enterprise architect with Microsoft Consulting Services.

“The goal of FEAPO is to create a single voice for enterprise architecture, and this paper is the first thing that that voice has uttered,” he said.  “It is more than one person’s opinion.This paper has been accepted by over a dozen professional organizations representing thousands of architects, engineers, and analysts of all stripes. This represents a consensus, the first consensus, and one that is sorely needed.”

According to Cameron, one of the most common misconceptions about enterprise architecture is that it only addresses the information technology (IT) functions in an organization. One of the goals of the EA perspective paper, he said, is to emphasize that EA needs to be treated as a business issue, not a technology issue.The primary purpose of describing the architecture of an enterprise is to improve the effectiveness or efficiency of the business itself.

“We’ve taken a holistic approach that enterprise architecture is more than just an IT centric profession,” Cameron said.

The FEAPO article is the result of an 18-month effort that included a targeted survey of members and several draft iterations. The preparatory work culminated in a two-day FEAPO summit session sponsored by Troux Technologies and EMC Corporation, where FEAPO members worked through the draft to produce a consensus document that was formally reviewed and approved for release by FEAPO member organizations.

Troux is a software vendor that provides tools and services in the areas of enterprise architecture and strategic planning for large enterprises. EMC is a global leader in enabling businesses and service providers to transform their operations and deliver IT as a service.

“Enterprise architecture is now a strategic component of every forward-thinking organization around the world,” said Ben Geller, vice president of marketing at Troux. “We were eager to partner with FEAPO in developing this united perspective that will help shed light on EA and its importance not only to IT, but to the success of the business as a whole.”

“EMC is pleased to support this paper and support the work of FEAPO,” said Mike Warner, advisory technical education consultant for EMC.“FEAPO will foster a closer working relationship with enterprise architects and help build pathways for feedback from our customers about the products and services EMC provides, ultimately helping develop better customer solutions.”

For more information about FEAPO, visit http://feapo.org.

More information on the paper, the process by which it was developed, and FEAPO is contained in the following recent interview by the Canadian IT Manager Connection at:
http://blogs.technet.com/b/cdnitmanagers/archive/2013/11/06/chat-new-fou....

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Last Updated November 07, 2013