This article looks at the category of enterprise architecture management tools, where they fit in the range of software available in the market, and why IT staff might consider adding one to their software portfolios.
When some IT folks read the term "enterprise architecture management" (EAM), there is a tendency to key on the word "architecture." Does EAM differ from service-oriented architecture (SOA), client/server architecture, etc.? Other IT staffers hear EAM and think "management." How does EAM differ from project/portfolio management (PPM), and/or IT lifecycle management (ITLM)?
But the keyword in EAM is neither architecture nor management; it's "enterprise."
The term is only tangentially related to IT and has been around for 20 years or more. It is actually enshrined in U.S. government law (and possibly in laws of other countries). Despite this, there has only recently emerged a category of software tools that can help enterprises discover and manage their EA in the holistic, not just IT, sense. Enterprise architects (EAs), who are not always IT folks, are still mainly using paper, pencil, Excel and PowerPoint to help understand very complex organizational structures.
2009 looks like the year EA meets EAM.
Where EA Meets EAM
Early this decade, academics began looking at EAM and the tools to support it. Prof. Florian Matthes, chair of Software Engineering for Business Information Systems (SEBIS) at the Technical University of Munich is one. During 2007-2008, he coordinated the second in a series of SEBIS EA/EAM studies including real-life EA examples from 30 industry partners and EAM tools from Adaptive, alfabet, Business Object Solutions, Embarcadero Technologies, IDS Scheer, MEGA, Metastorm, Telelogic (now part of IBM) and Troux. One thing his industry partnerships indicated was a need for a diversity of EAM approaches. That appears to account for the diversity of the EAM products available; not all EAM is created equal.
"The result, an evaluation of tools on key performance indicators, enables the reader to individually match their specific (EA) requirements with the (EAM) tools investigated. Thus, the survey provides a structured support for decision making rather than a simple one- or two-dimensional ranking," said Professor Dr. Matthes.
Randolph Hite, Director of IT Architecture & Systems Issues in the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), is one of the EAs interested in such information. GAO is part of the legislative branch of the U.S. government, the Congress. It released a report on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in May 2008 that says "A key to successful systems modernization is having and using an EA as an authoritative frame of reference, or blueprint, for system investment decisions. To assist DoD in modernizing its business systems, Congress passed legislation for DoD to develop and implement" such an architecture.
To review DoD and look at other agencies requested by Congress, GAO uses its Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework. The framework has five levels. Although few government agencies have advanced to the top level, many individual aspects of their EA come close. At the top level, says Hite's report, an organization is truly "leveraging the architecture for organizational change."
Hite, who is an IT expert as well as an EA, explains the difference between EA and SOA: "EA defines any purposeful activity and is expressed in excruciating detail by models. SOA can be an aspect (of an EA) if services are being introduced" to help in the modeling. He does not believe one type of software such as SOA can do it all. "One is not a pure substitute for another; to manage IT for mission success will require a dozen disciplines - security, SOA, PPM, and so forth."
Hite is interested in EAM tools because past practice has been to build EA models by brute force.
EAM Tools Suppliers
Ulrich Kalex, Vice President of Product Line Management at alfabet, has his view on how EA and SOA differ: "Enterprises need to turn attention to IT landscapes, not just the internals of IT - hardware, networks, software stacks - but also applications and business processes."
Using the example of how auto manufacturers work on six- to eight-year cycles for new models, Kalex says IT needs to be geared to help enterprises plan their architectural dimensions "even 10-15 years out." He believes his company's and other tools can replace the brute force that Hite of GAO mentions.
Gary Cernosek, in the Rational group within IBM, says an EA's job is to create the dynamic, interactive blueprint of an organization that details the interrelationship of technology with operations and goals. In terms of how EAM tools differ from more generic systems management, Cernosek says they provide ongoing strategic and tactical analysis, while systems management is concerned with day-to-day operations and administration.
Adaptive, which has launched an EAM software capability as a service, considers EA an information set that spans business, applications and information/data and technology. It uses the term EAM to more explicitly reference the activity of standardizing, housing, gathering, promulgating (marketing, even) and enabling the use of an EA information set. According to Adaptive CEO Jeff Goins, although this naturally relates to the manpower/schedule planning found in PPM, EA should also provide both the business context and facts that are needed to support PPM. Goins says the information set can be utilized by many other disciplines.
Greg Keller, Embarcadero's chief evangelist, illustrates how many of the EAM tools differ from one another as well as PPM, SOA, etc. Although Embarcadero is one of the tools studied by Matthes, Keller says his company is more about "metamodeling for EA modeling." That may make Embarcadero suitable for some EA functions but "tools is its core." For Embarcadero, the M stands for modeling, not management. This makes them a good partner for many other EAM products.
On the other hand, Dan Hebda, VP of Technology at MEGA, indicates that MEGA wants to be at the heart of the EAM discussion. Hebda and others think of EAM loosely as ERP for the IT department. He says to remember that the "emphasis is on enterprise," just as it is in ERP. MEGA deals with another U.S. government agency's framework, an EA model from the executive branch's Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB requires that budget requests be scored and reviewed and MEGA automates part of the required analysis. The OMB - as with the GAO - does not specify what technology solution should be implemented.
Other EA framework examples are based on industry, such as in consumer packaged goods or telecommunications. ITIL, which was discussed in this recent IT Business Edge article, is also an example.
Emeka Obianwu, VP Corporate Development from Troux Technologies, says EAM "keeps coming back to the planning word." EAM's foundation is in the idea of modeling the enterprise but modeling is just an underpinning, "a means to an end." Troux focuses on strategic IT planning, which Obianwu suggests can become direct competitive advantage. He sees a strong relationship between EAM and PPM but says the project paradigm is too limited. Users need to take the broader view of architecture as interrelated to goals, etc. as the term is used in construction.
In summary, analysis discovered a variety of drivers for IT staffs taking a look at the overall enterprise's organization and the tools to help it better manage its processes. They include better agility and lower costs, data center/application-instance consolidation/rationalization, and inevitable mergers and acquisitions. One of the major drivers is management's decision to modernize IT. If that happens, IT staffers should turn the discussion on its head: Let's get EAM and also fix the enterprise while fixing IT.