Enterprise Architecture Tangible: “A business-driven IT architecture – contradiction, pure vision or realistic intent?” (Part 3: Content & Tools)
The solution approach outlined in part 2 of my blog does not help without any content. So it is about creating useful information artifacts that help customers in taking the right decisions about the preferred IT architecture within their company. I am convinced that
- reference architectures,
- best or common practices,
- or comprehensible recommendations about preferred architectural setups
must be solid ingredients.
However, I am convinced as well that in many (or even most of the) cases there is no single simple truth or one-size-fits-all architecture for all conditions or all customers. Thus we likewise need
- architecture patterns that ease the comparison of different options,
- methodologies that increase transparency, traceability, and reliability of individual architectural decisions, and
- tools which simplify access to architecture relevant content and which facilitate the illustration of architectural decisions within a company.
We will come up with concrete proposals and examples for these kind of information artifacts in the near future (for example landscape architecture patterns, integration patterns, or UX architecture practices).
Finally it is also about a simple and efficient consumption and usage of content. Our approach is based on two planned modes to offer content in the sense as described above.
Next generation of SAP UX Explorer
We are going to extend the already established and well perceived SAP UX Explorer with content for other important architectural topics. The final name is yet under construction, but we are planning to move this tool towards a broader architectural scope. Information about IT landscape architecture and integration architecture are on the road to be the next upcoming content areas. This tool will become an important channel for customers to consume information artifacts as specified above.
There will be no need to install anything. You only need to access the tool hosted by SAP, gather the content that is beneficial for you, and make use of the provided information artifacts for the architectural decisions in your company.
All content within this tool is internally based on a well-defined meta model. Thus we are able to link different information artifacts or topics with each other with the simple definition of a relation. This will allow the user e.g. to easily compare different topics with each other (like different UI technologies or different architectural patterns).
Modeling Content for SAP PowerDesigner
The mentioned meta-model is maintained with the tool SAP PowerDesigner. Therefore we achieve consistency between the different architecture levels. For those users who want to dig into the details of objects and their relation to each other, we are planning to offer additionally a second mode to publish content. This will be content (like meta-models, methodologies, or reference architectures) for SAP’s modeling and Enterprise Architecture (EA) tool SAP PowerDesigner.
Customers using SAP PowerDesigner will be able to import this content and directly using it for modeling their own enterprise architecture. Among under things we are currently working on content for designing and modeling the IT landscape architecture of an enterprise with SAP PowerDesigner.
Further details about scope and availability of the next generation of SAP UX Explorer and content for SAP PowerDesigner will follow within the upcoming weeks.
Let me summarize the most important facts as described in the different parts of this blog.
There are a lot of challenges when defining and aligning the “best” IT architecture within an enterprise:
- different stakeholders with heterogeneous concerns,
- incomplete and fragmented information,
- missing transparency about the impact of architectural decisions, and
- conflicting optimization requirements for the architecture.
We do not expect to find a silver bullet for solving all challenges, but working on proposals to help customers in
- improving stakeholder alignment,
- closing information gaps,
- increasing transparency & traceability of architectural decisions, and
- balancing conflicting demands for certain architectural topics.
We are planning
- to provide a common information structure and content for different architectural perspectives,
- published via tools like SAP PowerDesigner and next generation of SAP UX Explorer,
- helping customer to organize & connect relevant information like reference architectures, architecture patterns, best practices or methodologies.
I believe that the wheel we want to turn is big (and I know that this is just the beginning 😉 ). But I am convinced that it is worthwhile to do so.
Thus tell us your opinion, if and how SAP could support you in answering the question of the blog headline with a clear:
“A business-driven IT architecture – a realistic intent”.
What do you think about it?
What challenges do you face in your company when defining the right IT architecture for your business?
What kind of content or information artifacts are you expecting from SAP to take the right architectural decisions in your company?
I am happy to hearing from you and stay tuned for the upcoming blogs of our “(Making) Enterprise Architecture Tangible” series about the planned content for UX, Integration and Landscape Architecture.
With kind regards