Enterprise Architecture Types

Synopsis

A lot has been written about the role of enterprise architecture in an organization, what the benefits are, what is the best framework to use, and how this fits with the role of solution architects. However one thing that has become clear to me over the years of working in this space is the lack of understanding of exactly what the common enterprise architectures are and how enterprise architectures change over the life of an organization. This can lead to misunderstandings about what possible end state architectures there are, what they can do for an organization and what drawbacks they bring. It is clear without this knowledge it is usually impossible to make and communicate which architectural state and organization is best suited for and why.

Background

This paper is designed to give the reader an appreciation of the different types of enterprise architecture that may exist within an organization and the common paths between those architectures. This should allow the user to identify where an organization is in the enterprise architecture space, and therefore understand what challenges the organization will commonly face, and the options that organizations often take in that situation with regards to enterprise architecture changes.

Glossary

Term Definition
Application Throughout this paper we are referring mainly to server based applications or applications that allow the sharing of information around an organization. We are not necessarily referring to desktop style applications such as MSOffice or MS Paint.
Organization Any size of business organization.
Enterprise An complex organization , note complex can be geographically complex or structurally complex (e.g. a group of organizations)

Enterprise Architecture Types

This section describes the enterprise architecture types that have been identified over the years. The goal of this section is to describe the extremes of the types of architecture that we are likely to come across. The classifications presented are rarely seen in their ‘purest’ form you are more likely to see combinations of the above as the only constant we tend to see is change.

None of the architectures presented here are necessarily good or bad but are purely laid out for information and each suits organizations at different points in their lifecycle.

The four architectures we are going to discuss are:

  • Bespoke
  • Monopolistic
  • Matrix Architecture
  • New Wave

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