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 Enterprise
Architecture initiatives, the effort stalls or is delayed due to lack of “applied
traction”. By this, I mean the EA
activities – whether targeted towards compliance, risk mitigation or value
opportunity propositions – may not be attached to measurable, active, visible
projects 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 critical
vehicle to this proof is successful orchestration and use of assets and investment
resources to meet a high-profile business objective – i.e. a successful
project.

More and more organizations are now exploring and
considering some degree of IT outsourcing, buying and using external services
and solutions to deliver their IT and business requirements – vs. building and
operating in-house, in their own data centers. The rapid growth and success of
“Cloud” services makes some decisions easier and some IT projects more
successful, 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 the
Internet. Whether SaaS solutions – or any kind of cloud solution – are
actually, ultimately the most cost-effective approach truly depends on the
organization’s business and IT investment strategy.

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

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

Using tools like this, and facilitating this critical
collaboration by leading, organizing and coordinating the input and expertise
into 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 core
organization – it includes internal systems, public cloud services, 3rd-party
IT platforms and datacenters, distributed users and devices; a whole greater
than the sum of its parts.

Through facilitated project collaboration, leading to
identification or creation of solid governance models and processes, a durable
and useful Enterprise Architecture framework will usually emerge by itself, if
not actually identified and managed as such. The transition from planning
collaboration to actual coordination, where the program plan, schedule and
resources become synchronized and aligned to other investments in the
organization portfolio, is where EA methods and artifacts appear and become
most useful. The actual scope and use of these artifacts, in the context of
this project, can then set the stage for the most desirable, helpful and
pragmatic form of the now-maturing EA framework and community of practice.

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