Wednesday, October 16, 2013

EA as Cloud Orchestrator

Cloud is not Shapeless, EA is a Frame to Highlight the Cloud Picture. 

More and more IT organizations are running on the cloud, in order to scale up more seamlessly or speed up the service delivery more effortlessly. The important question could be: Is an Enterprise Architect or Enterprise Architecture needed when IT infrastructure and core applications are in the cloud?

The role of Enterprise Architecture is overwhelming. The EA would describe how the clouds implement Business Architecture. Business alignment, strategy implementation, change and complexity management has still to be achieved now within the choice available in the clouds. The fact that applications are deployed in cloud should not dispel the need of EA. There is a greater need for an enterprise architect to ensure that the dynamically changing cloud infrastructure and technology is properly aligned to business needs and any subsequent risks are identified & mitigated.

EA is about ensuring the maximum payback for an organization's IT investment. Much of this has to do with complexity management. You need to do clouds integration to provide the overall pictures of availability, scalability etc. Some has to do with business/IT alignment (although most of this is a byproduct of complexity management.). The cloud changes none of this. And the cloud adds one more important aspect to the EA responsibility set to ensure that the business architecture projects accurately onto the IT architecture. The reason for this is that such architectures have the most efficiency when run on the cloud.

An Enterprise should understand its EA before shipping parts of IT out to be managed by third-parties. Chances are that if the Enterprise doesn't already know what their EA looks like before procurement, it will be difficult or impossible to make any improvements until contract renewal. Business needs from the infrastructure (reliability, scalability, information, management, etc.) remains in play and should be covered in the EA and covered in the SLAs with the suppliers. EA (the function) or IT (the organization) should also be prepared to review alternatives to the cloud every couple of years--what are the alternate architectures?

Organizations also need EA afterwards to mange the complexity in the cloud. The simple reason is that the commoditized service based approach that cloud offers can easily be taken as a means for budget holders to cherry pick what they need. If this is done in isolation there is no integration and over time there will be increasing levels of duplication. Having the logical models defined through an EA approach supports the physical delivery through cloud - controlled use of cloud rather than free for all chaos.

EA is needed for the cloud more than ever; especially business architecture appears clearly on the front page now, to orchestrate cloud-based service model, and ensuring business effectiveness, efficiency and agility.


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