Welcome to this series of articles on Introduction in Enterprise Architecture. The series is structured into four articles, each of them answering one of the following questions:
The intended audience are all of you, being affected by the topic of Enterprise Architecture. Such as a decision maker, who wants to understand a topic being highly relevant for many companies and organizations. As well as an architect, who already knows about the complexity of Enterprise Architecture and is looking for conclusive and consistent suggestions on how to answer the questions mentioned before.
Understanding the concept of Enterprise Architecture requires not only a fundamental understanding of architecture but also an understanding of the concept of an Enterprise.
Relevant technical literature (e.g. TOGAF) provides the following definition:
TOGAF defines Enterprise as any collection of organizations that has a common set of goals. For example, an Enterprise could be a government agency, a whole corporation, a division of a corporation, a single department, or a chain of geographically distant organizations linked together by common ownership.
The key element of the definition is its focus on organizations with a common set of goals. Goals in the scope of Enterprise are not restricted to a single context (e.g. economical goals) but are intended to be understood in a more generic context.
The provided examples for organizations with a common set of goals allow conclusions on the background of the concept of Enterprise Architecture.
Based on the wide scope of the definition of Enterprise and also based on the examples provided it can be deduced that the concept of Enterprise can be understood as self-containing. Self-containing in the context of an Enterprise means, that Enterprises can contain other Enterprises. Typical examples are departments within an organization or divisions in a global company. Self-containing enterprises enable the formal description of hierarchic organizations as well as as loosely coupled organizational structures.
Using the definition of Enterprise I want to provide you a definition of Enterprise Architecture as a combination of the concepts of Enterprise and Architecture.
In the first article of this series I suggested ways to a common understanding of the concept of Architecture. The starting point provided in the article was ISO 42010. Since ISO 42010 was good starting point for the common understanding of Architecture it shall be used as a starting point again.
ISO 42010 defines Architecture as
The fundamental organization of a system, embodied in its components, their relationships to each other and the environment, and the principles governing its design and evolution.
Once you start combining the definitions of Architecture and Enterprise ,Enterprise Architecture can be defined as
The fundamental organization of an enterprise, embodied in
- its components,
- their relationships to each other and the environment
- and the principles governing its design and evolution.
In order to avoid misconception I recommend making a difference between Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Architecture Model as the formal description of the Architecture.
In this article it was concluded that an appropriate definition of Enterprise Architecture should be based on a valid understanding of Enterprise and Architecture. The understanding of Enterprise used in this article is based on TOGAF and describes Enterprise as any collection of organizations that has a common set of goals.
Based on this definition it was recognized, that the concept of Enterprise is self-containing and can consequently be applied to hierarchical structures as well as loosely coupled organizational elements.
Finally the concepts of Enterprise and Architecture have been combined to the concept of Enterprise Architecture as
the fundamental organization of an enterprise, embodied in
Based on the contents of the current article, the next article in this series is intended to discuss the Benefits of an Enterprise Architecture