The Cloud Needs a New Type of Enterprise Architect

by Zak Cole       • September 16, 2016

The role and responsibilities of Enterprise Architect’s have already changed so much since the practice’s introduction. It’s practitioners have already had to adjust focus to accommodate the increasingly digital business focused market.

In addition to this, the realigning of IT from fringe, support role, to a core business unit has demanded a more forward thinking, innovative approach from them, too. We’re now in a new critical phase in Enterprise Architecture’s evolution, as cloud systems are becoming increasingly more commonplace.

The Cloud Needs a New Type of Enterprise Architect

Enterprise Architecture’s role in the Cloud

Thanks to a boom in web connectivity, reliability and availability, many business leaders and decision makers are now turning to the cloud as a means of delivering new tech.

The benefits to cost and speed of implementation are a huge selling point for the model and are a huge factor in its success. But arguably, the most important factor is the increasing need for agility.

Digital business has introduced a climate in which new tech innovations can catch on incredibly quickly, leading to a market in a constant state of change. This is why agility in business and IT has been a talking point of leading analysts – including Gartner – for a number of years now, and increasing agility is a goal that often ranks highly on yearly CIO agendas.

Cloud based systems are a great asset in achieving this goal of increasing agility.  A new, radical change in the market might require a rapid change in strategy, and the market won’t wait for businesses to source, fund and install new systems.

If need be, a subscription based SaaS model need only be swapped out for another, or in a case of expanding on current practices, more licenses can be acquired. This also goes a long way in helping businesses manage the amount of shelfware they have accrued, as SaaS models are only paid for, for as long as they are needed.

Considering the benefits of this, Enterprise Architects will need to familiarize themselves with the cloud, and those that specialize in it are bound to see an increased demand in their skill set.

As before, Enterprise Architects will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of such tech, ensuring it’s aligned with the business’ current systems and goals. But oftentimes, they’ll also be responsible for informing and educating the wider business on how exactly these new systems will fit. Hence, why some analysts are making the argument that Enterprise Architects should act as a direct advisory role to the CIO, and in some cases, start operating more like a management consultancy practice.

The Cloud’s role in Enterprise Architecture

SaaS models are even revitalizing Enterprise Architecture itself.

For example, CloudCore leverages the cloud to host a bundled Data Modeling and Enterprise Architecture offering, in one solution.

Businesses that may have found themselves priced out of EA before, due to high installation costs, or reluctance to invest heavily if EA is only needed for a fixed term project, are no longer excluded either.

The scalability of the model means that SaaS based Enterprise Architecture tools are a viable option for businesses at all stages of maturity. For example, a business at Level 0, or Level 1 of Gartner’s Enterprise Architecture maturity model (shown below) might have been taking a make shift approach to EA. Repurposing tools that are typically readily available to most businesses such as the Office Suite.

Enterprise Architecture Maturity Model
The Gartner Enterprise Architecture Maturity Model

A business in this position is likely to have serious reservations about investing heavily in EA without a solid idea of its return on investment. In this case, a business will likely want to start small and mature the practice as they go. SaaS licensing options go a long way to enabling this thanks to the pay for what you need model, and the ability and ease of trialing the software before committing.

Enterprise-Architecture-tools-as-a-Service also benefit from increased collaborative capabilities thanks to the online, inherently connected nature of the software. Users can utilize the cloud to collaborate directly within the tool, benefiting from real time updates and the ability to make/suggest changes to diagrams from anywhere with an online connection.

It can also make encouraging investment and stakeholder buy-in to EA much easier. This is because the aforementioned parties can be involved much more directly with the Enterprise’s Architecture, and the EA tool itself.

Staggered licenses can account for “contributor” and “reviewer” permissions, allowing people that don’t necessarily need to be involved with the meta-data and repository, to still contribute to EA by either building diagrams or leaving feedback. This hands on involvement makes EA a far easier sell, as the relevant parties can see the value first hand.

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