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Zachman's Views On Impact Of Cloud Computing On Enterprise Architecture

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John Zachman, the originator of the Zachman framework, recently wrote an article that addresses the questions regarding the impact of cloud computing on enterprise architecture; especially given how disruptive and popular cloud architectures are becoming an effective technique to cut costs.

The whole idea of Enterprise Architecture is to enable the Enterprise to address orders of magnitude increases in complexity and orders of magnitude increases in the rate of change. [...] If you have Enterprise Architecture, and if you have made that Enterprise Architecture explicit, and if you have designed it correctly, you should be able to change the Enterprise and/or its formalisms (that is, its systems, manual or automated) with minimum time, minimum disruption and minimum cost.

According to the article, if enterprise architecture is done correctly, the only technology and engineering perspectives (rows 4 and 5 in the Zachman framework) of the enterprise architecture need to be adjusted.

[...] if you have your Enterprise Architecture stored in a repository, I think I would SIMULATE those changes before I actually made any of them to make sure I did not introduce any discontinuities or dis-functionality that would disrupt the Enterprise business.

He warns of the dangers of the enterprise architecture not being able to accommodate complexity nor change if not done correctly. He reasons that the cloud computing isn't possibly the last technology innovation that could disrupt an enterprise architecture and offers suggestions for when companies dont have an Enterprise Architecture in place.

[...] “What kind of impact does the rise in Cloud Computing have on Enterprise Architecture” is probably not the right way to ask the question. Probably a better way to ask it would be, “Is Cloud Computing a useful technology alternative for implementing our Enterprise (or at least portions of our Enterprise) and how would we affect that implementation to minimize our risk and maximize its utility?”

He concludes his article advocating that regardless of the disruptions in technologies; be it cloud computing or future architectural paradigms and solutions; companies should start making long-term investments in Enterprise Architecture.

Enterprise Architecture, the knowledge-base of the Enterprise, creates the Knowledge Advantage paramount to Enterprise viability and success in the Information Age.

Be sure to check out the original article and share your opinions.

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Community comments

  • link to article is wrong

    by Kees Dijk,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.


    Nice overview but the last link to the article links to a Stackoverflow question.

  • cloud has nothing to do with the Zachmann-architecture

    by Adam Nemeth,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    While Zachmann is right that many people will just jump on to the Cloud Bandwagon and will actually lose benefits more than gaining advantages, and they won't even realize it, the same is true for most widespread adoptions.

    On the other hand, wether you like it or not, your enterprise works _somehow_ and this "somehow" can be described through the Zachmann framework, and once described, you can think if how it works right now, is the best one for you or you can make changes based on that.

    But most of the things in such an architecture has nothing to do wether it is cloud or not: you're essentially using off-the-shelf products to solve some parts of your business. Just like architecture doesn't depend too much on what language you use (despite telling us otherwise for years by Sun and Microsoft), it won't depend on this one either.

  • Re: link to article is wrong

    by Dilip Krishnan,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    The link has been corrected. Thanks!

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