7 years, 5 months ago

Hybrid IT or Cloud Initiative – a Perfect Enterprise Architecture Maturation Opportunity

All too often in the growth and maturation of EnterpriseArchitecture initiatives, the effort stalls or is delayed due to lack of “appliedtraction”. By this, I mean the EAactivities – whether targeted towards compliance, risk mitigation or valueopportunity propositions – may not be attached to measurable, active, visibleprojects that could advance and prove the value of EA. EA doesn’t work by itself, in a vacuum,without collaborative engagement and a means of proving usefulness. A criticalvehicle to this proof is successful orchestration and use of assets and investmentresources to meet a high-profile business objective – i.e. a successfulproject.

More and more organizations are now exploring andconsidering some degree of IT outsourcing, buying and using external servicesand solutions to deliver their IT and business requirements – vs. building andoperating in-house, in their own data centers. The rapid growth and success of“Cloud” services makes some decisions easier and some IT projects moresuccessful, while dramatically lowering IT risks and enabling rapid growth.This is particularly true for “Software as a Service” (SaaS) applications,which essentially are complete web applications hosted and delivered over theInternet. Whether SaaS solutions – or any kind of cloud solution – areactually, ultimately the most cost-effective approach truly depends on theorganization’s business and IT investment strategy.

This leads us to Enterprise Architecture, the connectivitybetween business strategy and investment objectives, and the capabilitiespurchased or created to meet them. If anEA framework already exists, the approach to selecting a cloud-based solutionand integrating it with internal IT systems (i.e. a “Hybrid IT” solution) iswell-served by leveraging EA methods. If an EA framework doesn’t exist, or issimply not mature enough to address complex, integrated IT objectives – ahybrid IT/cloud initiative is the perfect project to advance and prove thevalue of EA.

Why is this? For starters, the success of any complex ITintegration project – spanning multiple systems, contracts and organizations,public and private – depends on active collaboration and coordination among theproject stakeholders. For a hybrid IT initiative, inclusive of one or morecloud services providers, the IT services, business workflow and datagovernance challenges alone can be extremely complex, requiring many diverse layersof organizational expertise and authority. Establishing subject matterexpertise, authorities and strategic guidance across all the disciplinesinvolved in a hybrid-IT or hybrid-cloud system requires top-level,comprehensive experience and collaborative leadership. Tools and practicesreflecting industry expertise and EA alignment can also be very helpful – suchas Oracle’s “Cloud Candidate Selection Tool”.

Using tools like this, and facilitating this criticalcollaboration by leading, organizing and coordinating the input and expertiseinto a shared, referenceable, reusable set of authority models and practices –this is where EA shines, and where Enterprise Architects can be most valuable.The “enterprise”, in this case, becomes something greater than the coreorganization – it includes internal systems, public cloud services, 3rd-partyIT platforms and datacenters, distributed users and devices; a whole greaterthan the sum of its parts.

Through facilitated project collaboration, leading toidentification or creation of solid governance models and processes, a durableand useful Enterprise Architecture framework will usually emerge by itself, ifnot actually identified and managed as such. The transition from planningcollaboration to actual coordination, where the program plan, schedule andresources become synchronized and aligned to other investments in theorganization portfolio, is where EA methods and artifacts appear and becomemost useful. The actual scope and use of these artifacts, in the context ofthis project, can then set the stage for the most desirable, helpful andpragmatic form of the now-maturing EA framework and community of practice.

Considering or starting a hybrid-IT orhybrid-cloud initiative? Running into some complex relationship challenges? Thisis the perfect time to take advantage of your new, growing or possibly latent EnterpriseArchitecture practice.