A good Enterprise Architecture is an important step leading maturity of enterprise. the open group advocates the need for a consistent architecture across the enterprise to enable information flow across the enterprise. Let us try to understand the concepts in detail.
Before we begin, we must understand and formalize what we mean by an enterprise. The open group defines an enterprise as
"Any collection of organizations that have common goals."
Each word here is important. It should be a collection of organizations. Not just one person or a team of developers working on their laptop - but a collection of organizations. This implies a degree of independence of each organization. Yet, they should have a common goal.
Examples of an enterprise could include a whole corporation or a division of a corporation; or a government agency or a single government department; a chain of geographically distant organizations linked together by common ownership. It could include a groups of countries or governments working together to create common or shareable deliverables or infrastructures or partnerships and alliances of businesses working together, such as a consortium or supply chain.
The common thread in each of these is that they are working on different aspects of the same common goal, or simply moving on different paths, that have an overlapping common goal. We could also have an extended enterprise - that surrounds an enterprise. The extended enterprise includes additional entities that may not be related to each other - but related to the central enterprise in some way.
The Open Group defines an architecture as
"The fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment embodied in its elements, relationships, and in the principles of its design and evolution. The structure of components, their inter-relationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time".
Architecture can have several levels spanning over the business, data, application and the technology underlying the enterprise. A good architecture allows for efficient information flow across the different components that share the same architecture. Having a consistent architecture across the enterprise is important for having a seamless information flow across the enterprise, and the extended enterprise.
Some organizations may comprise multiple enterprises, and may develop and maintain a number of independent Enterprise Architectures to address each one. These enterprises often have much in common with each other including processes, functions, and their information systems, and there is often great potential for wider gain in the use of a common architecture framework.
The Open Group advocates the importance of enterprise architecture for several reasons
An efficient enterprise architecture means more effective and efﬁcient business operations. It can reduce the operation costs by eliminating blockages in information flow. That naturally increases the agility of the organization - allowing easier and efficient changes. A well defined enterprise architecture enable the organization to divide and share the different business capabilities among different units. A lower change management costs and improved flexible workforce, naturally boosts the business productivity.
An effective enterprise architecture makes it easier to adopt Digital Transformation and IT operations. Consistency in the enterprise helps the organization adopt the newer digital capabilities; and enables a deeper reach of these transformations.
If all components of the enterprise work harmoniously, the software development, support and maintenance costs are reduced. It makes the applications more portable with an improved interoperability and easier system and network management. It enables easier upgrade and exchange of system components.
The streamlined processes improved the organization's ability to address critical enterprise-wide issues like security.
It ensures a better return on existing investment through a reduced risk for future investment. An effective enterprise architecture reduced complexity in the business and IT; making it safer and secure. Ease of maintenance and operation improves the return on investment in existing business and IT infrastructure. An efficient architecture across the enterprise make it easier to make, buy, or out-source business and IT solutions. That reduces risk overall in new investments and their cost of ownership
With a consistent architecture across the enterprise, buying decisions are lot simpler, because the information governing procurement is readily available in a coherent plan. When the procurement is faster, it helps maximize procurement speed and ﬂexibility without sacriﬁcing architectural coherence. A planned architecture can also enable procurement of heterogeneous, multi-vendor open systems. That enables more secure and economic capabilities.
The open group defines an architecture framework as
"A foundational structure, or set of structures, which can be used for developing a broad range of different architectures. It should describe a method for designing a target state of the enterprise in terms of a set of building blocks, and for showing how the building blocks ﬁt together. It should contain a set of tools and provide a common vocabulary. It should also include a list of recommended standards and compliant products that can be used to implement the building blocks."
TOGAF is one of the most popular architecture frameworks because of the several advantages that it provides. TOGAF is a result of decades of collaborative wisdom. It is tested and proven to work in several different scenarios. It works seamlessly with other frameworks. TOGAF stresses on how more than what. TOGAF explains rules for developing good principles, rather than providing a set of architecture principles.
TOGAF is open source and free for all members of the Open Group.