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The More Enterprise Architecture Changes the More it Stays the Same

        posted by , November 03, 2011

John Zachman never ceases to amaze me.

The other day I read his 1987 IBM publication A Framework for Information Systems Architecture. It's widely credited as being the first publication to discuss Enterprise Architecture.

What's interesting is how applicable this 24 year old publication is to today's architectural challenges.

Decentralization of IT

Many of the architectural trends of today (e.g. SaaS, cloud outsourcing, enterprise social media) represent the decentralization of IT. Enterprises are moving from in-house systems that sit on boxes to widely distributed models of computing.

Zachman argues (in 1987) that the decentralization of IT will drive the need for Enterprise Architecture.

since the technology permits “distributing” large amounts of computing facilities in small packages to remote locations, some kind of structure (or architecture) is imperative because decentralization without structure is chaos.

The Definition of Enterprise Architecture

Zachman cites a lack of consistency in architectural definitions.

Unfortunately, among the proponents of information systems architecture, there seems to be little consistency in concepts or in specifications of “architecture”

It's interesting that today this is still an issue. We now have the Zachman Framework and TOGAF. However, the very definition of enterprise architecture is still hotly debated at EA conferences everywhere.

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