Enterprise Initiatives

This blog focuses on Enterprise IT topics such as Enterprise Architecture, Portfolio Management, Change Management, Business Process Management, and recaps various technology events and news.

In part 1, I discussed the importance of the SOA Evangelist. I also talked about the shift from software development to software engineering. This shift has made the role of the architect critical for the success of any SOA initiative. First, let us talk about the various architect roles required to successfully design an SOA.

Chief Architect - This person, possibly your SOA Evangelist, should have strong technical skills, sound business knowledge, and great leadership skills. Not only should this person understand the ins and outs of SOA, but he/she should be able to explain the value of SOA to the business in business terms, to the CIO in high level technology and business terms, and to the technicians in detailed terms. Depending on the size of the company and the SOA initiative, this person may or may not actively participate in the design. Regardless, this person should be knowledgeable enough to participate in design sessions when called upon. From a leadership perspective, this person is likely the change agent who is the driving force behind establishing and implementing governance, shifting the IT mindset from programming to engineering, establishing the SOA roadmap, and other culture changing elements.

Enterprise Architect - In smaller or midsize companies, the chief architect and the enterprise architect may be one in the same. In bigger companies, there may be more then one EA. The EA has broad domain and business knowledge and works across organizational boundaries to ensure that the architecture meets both the business and IT requirements. Wikipedia says it best when it mentions....

The role of the Enterprise Architect is to take this knowledge and ensure that the business and IT are in alignment. The enterprise architect links the business mission, strategy, and processes of an organization to its IT strategy, and documents this using multiple architectural models or views that show how the current and future needs of an organization will be met in an efficient, sustainable, agile, and adaptable manner.
Domain Architect - The domain architects specialize in specific areas of technology. They are the experts of their domain. Here are a few examples of domains that require specialization:
  • Application
  • Information
  • Security
  • Infrastructure
  • Business Processes
  • Network
  • Integration
Once again, the size of the company often dictates how many of these roles exist as a stand alone job function or if they are rolled up into a broader architect role. For example, smaller companies may combine application, information, and integration into one role and infrastructure and network into another role. The key for me is that these roles need to be accounted for regardless if its by one or many people. Each role is critical in successfully architecting a true SOA.

Solution Architect - The solutions architect has hands on experience with specific technologies and even business applications. You may have an architect who specializes in Java, .Net, backend systems, web applications, financial systems, ecommerce systems, distributed processing, etc. Once again, I am advocating that the role is addressed and whether or not a company has one or many people with this title depends on its size and budget.

The Architecture Team
As I described above, the team should consist of the following roles (not necessarily individuals):
  • Chief Architect
  • Enterprise Architect
  • Domain Architects
  • Solutions Architects
The number of people filling these roles vary from company to company. In my previous job, a shop of roughly 200 people, our architecture team consisted of myself as a Chief Architect, an EA, a domain architect, and a solutions architect (even though they all had the simple title of "Architect"). There was an Architect over the infrastructure and network that reported into a different structure and a one person security team. My architect team worked closely with the others but it would have been more effective had we all been on the same team with the same goals and objectives.

I have seen a case study at an enterprise architecture conference a few years back where a global SOA initiative for a fortune 100 company had over 100 architects on the team including numerous EAs and even multiple Chief Architects from different business divisions. There is no one way to slice this pie.

Architect Mindset
You can organize the teams anyway you like but one thing you must have is the proper mindset. The architecture team must be focused first on the business drivers that the SOA initiative has set out to solve. If the team loses sight of these drivers then SOA will become an IT project instead of an important initiative for the entire corporation. You must have the business buy-in throughout the project to reap the true benefits of SOA. Please read 8 Winning Characteristics of Successful SOA Implementations which I wrote for CIO.com that summarizes the critical success factors that wer common among the winners of the SOA Consortium/CIO.com SOA Case Study contest earlier this month.

Second, the team needs to ensure that they are not an Ivory Tower architecture team. SOA is too important for architects to be preaching philosophy from the top of their perches. The architect team must be the change agents required to move the organization away from the traditional silo driven application development approach and into a more collaborative engineering approach that focuses on the long term vision not the short term and short sighted approach that many companies practice today.

Third, this team must have an open mind. They need to evaluate current business processes, current IT practices, and current systems, and provide the necessary change and direction required to move the organization forward towards the vision established by the business and IT and reflected in the SOA roadmap. Without changing the way IT approaches development, it is likely that the team won't be able to differentiate between SOA and web services. Education and evangelism is key to understanding the proper way to architect and govern your SOA.

In part three I will discuss the developer role. In part four I will discuss the testers.


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