Expect smaller and more focused EA practices
The focus of decision makers has swiftly shifted from frameworks and tools to governance, strategies and processes. Enterprises are not shying away from shunning EA teams that are not able to generate immediate value. Enterprise Architects need to have skills more focused on the business and information layers so that they can have an impact on the company bottom line. What is crucial for EA professionals at this stage is learning the art of converting information about cost & benefits derived out of data and technology into usable data for future. Enterprises wish to take an early step towards developing credibility as a strategic asset and engaging in EA activities that provide immediate value to the business. Owing to the complex tools and frameworks, EA practices require long-term commitment, both on the part of business owners as well as resources.
The most efficient EA teams should:
- Demarcate those processes that can be used for producing EA deliverables and measure their progress with a predefined set of metrics. Measuring progress against these metrics on a continuous basis will help the EA team to drive priority decisions.
- Supply the executives with easily consumable deliverables that can help in making future decisions.
- Principles and strategies need to be considered as the higher order standards apart from governance in order to support the detailed technical specifications.
Microservices Architecture will become more important
The single purpose, API-accessible apps play a major role in helping developers to build applications. These services that play the role of building blocks for larger applications are referred to as microservices. Since, the microservice architecture looks at services from a developer’s perspective and not from the perspective of an enterprise architect, these services are more fine-grained. This is the reason why services like JSON are replacing XML or REST has replaced SOAP while heavy-duty middleware is nowhere in the scene.
Role of managed services and outsourcing in Enterprise Architecture
Managed services and outsourcing were primarily adopted to reduce IT costs. Lately, organizations have started outsourcing both infrastructure and application development which has resulted in newer challenges for the architects that seek to reduce technology related complexities. Most of the architecture standards efforts are focused on reducing costs by controlling technology. However, this practice is challenged in cases where bids and fees from Managed Services Providers are higher than that incurred while using “standard” technology. When we consider the managed services operating model, more flexibility is warranted for managing infrastructure as well as developing applications. An enterprise can devise its strategies according to the goals of the moment and state of technology while maintaining control over the most crucial decisions. Large companies are particularly vouching for this trend as they have to manage hundreds of technologies, each with its own versions. Outsourcing approach helps the EA team to put considerably little effort in managing data formats and non-functional requirements as the number of meaningful interfaces between logical architecture components is quite less.
There was a time when Enterprise Architects opted for a costlier option offered by the vendor based on the assumption that “standard” technologies will render less cost and more benefits in the long run. But today, the EA teams would rather opt for a cheaper option that is capable of operating with other architecture components in a seamless fashion. The EA evaluation is based on a smaller set of interface standards.
The era of Multi-cloud management
After bestowing huge amount of trust in the public cloud, the enterprises are gradually shifting to multi-cloud setups as public cloud is a platform owned and managed by someone else. This leads to its own share of inhibitions which are mostly concerned with security of data. Looking at the complexity and size of cloud based platforms, most of the enterprises were not totally convinced about putting all their eggs in one basket. Therefore, we see the pre-dominance of multi-cloud setups that are compatible with the existing Enterprise Architecture as well. Tools to manage deployments in hybrid clouds are gaining more traction. EA teams are constantly scouting such tools and capabilities that can help them in merging the existing architecture with that required for a multi-cloud setup.
Containers to Rule the World of Apps
Containers guarantee genuine application portability while using lightweight packages in place of full VMs. Containers can be used to move the production applications among the clouds too. In fact, this year we have seen a focus on such containers that can actually work with more complex apps that require the use of multiple containers. The latest containers come with orchestration tools that can assist businesses to move complex apps comprising many components and running in different containers to be managed in a more streamlined manner. This is evident from the fact that leaders in the niche including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Mesos, and Kubernetes have introduced their own container management systems.
Final Thoughts . . .
Business frameworks are both complex and abstract. Keeping in mind the economically driven focus on survival, Enterprise Architecture activities capable of providing immediate value to the business are the considered to be the more sensible first steps towards maturity. We are also predicting the return of develops and end of network switches in Enterprise Architecture management. Artificial intelligence will play a pre-dominant role in determining how the EA team deals with the new and emerging challenges and so would endpoint security innovation. Expect new models for EA practices in different enterprises in the time to come.