13 years, 9 months ago

Microsoft’s Take on Enterprise Architecture

Normally, we don’t pay much attention to Microsoft when it comes to the areas of strategy and planning, but this is just too interesting to pass up.  Gabriel Morgan of Microsoft posted his lessons learned from a year of leading Enterprise Architecture team entitled “A Breakthrough:  Maturing EA to be a Catalyst to transform the Company” That’s generated quite a bit of buzz – quite a bit of it ambivalent (see Tom Graves’ take here for more thoughts on this topic.)  So I’ll go a different direction, and analyze the impact of what Gabriel’s team has been at Microsoft on their target client base.

A bit of history.  Everyone knows that Microsoft has been trying to carve out a significant share of Enterprise IT spending.  With major competitors, such as IBM and Oracle (among others), already well entrenched in this space, it’s not been smooth sailing for the folks from Redmond.  So while many a smaller company run on Microsoft foundation, penetration at higher end of organizational scale has been largely limited to departmental success stories.  The further Microsoft products become entrenched in smaller scale organizations, the better the Microsoft’s enterprise division targets these clients, the more difficult it becomes to sell Enterprise Architecture.  Why?  Because at the lower end of organizational scale, Enterprise Architecture happens informally.  Most organizations in that position simply don’t have the necessary capital to invest on internally-focused process improvements while delivering on their operational commitments.

I have worked in the EA doing vertical for a long time, so while I might wonder at titling what Gabriel’s team has done at Microsoft a “Breakthrough,” from viewpoint of his team, it’s nothing short of an evolutionary jump.  If successful, Microsoft will be moving away from the developer-first culture that has been at its core for as long as I can remember to a discipline based culture.  What will be interesting to see is whether the kind of discipline EA brings to an organization will translate into better products and more discipline among its small to medium customer base.