Friday, August 1, 2008

Enterprise Architecture versus Solution Architecture

Recently I have been in several customer meetings where their newly hired Enterprise Architect(EA) joined to listen in and provide feedback. Most of these meetings were to discuss an individual cluster or system that is being implemented, and it seemed that most EAs these days are still too focused on systems, solutions and details; and too little focus is being paid to the true activities I see as relevant for an Enterprise Architect. I decided to throw my own comments out there about where an EA falls within an organization, and how that differs from what I call Solution Architects.

The way I see it, a Solution Architect is more closely associated with what I see as technical sales people, they focus on the individual system or application, focusing on the details of what software packages will work, what a good support model is, and how to implement it within the companies framework that is defined by the Enterprise Architect.

I then see the Enterprise Architect as a pathway between the companies Business Goals and the IT personnel that must delivery tools to meet and track those goals. The EAs goal is to define a set of policies at the company wide level that ensure things like legal compliance, consistent identity management and company wide reporting capabilities.

If an EA gets too involved in the Solution Architect level details, the company suffers because those higher level activities are not being managed appropriately. A successful EA has both the willingness and capability to work with the company executives and turn there business vision into a technology vision and push that down to the Solution Architects and IT staff.

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