The Open Group and Enterprise Architecture
Steven Nunn from the Open Group weighs in on the theory and practice of enterprise architecture during an interview with FTPOnline.
by FTPOnline Editors
February 23, 2007
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, The Open Group
Enterprise architecture (EA) is a demanding profession that combines skills in hardware and software technology, planning, negotiating, and business. There is no formal academic training program on the subject, and most practitioners spend years on the job honing their technology skills while learning and applying the soft skills essential to success in the EA field. Because of the lack of formal training or professional associations available, most EA professionals have found their career path by hit or miss, with little or no external support.
The Open Group works towards enabling access to integrated information within and between enterprises based on open standards and global interoperability. Starting in the early 1990s, it recognized and promoted EA as a discipline and practice essential in establishing a coherent structure and plan for comprehensive IT support for business goals. Today, the organization develops and promotes TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework), and offer a new certification program for enterprise architects.
To find out more about TOGAF and its EA certification programs, FTPOnline spoke to The Open Group's Steve Nunn. Steve Nunn is vice president and chief operating officer of The Open Group, and has management responsibility for legal, finance, human resources, IT facilities, and facilities issues. A lawyer by training, Steve's primary role is to ensure the legal protection of the assets of The Open Group, particularly its intellectual property. One of his main tasks is the development, maintenance, and policing of The Open Group's trademark portfolio, including the registered trademarks behind The Open Group brand.
Steve has an L.L.B. (Honors) in Law with French and retains a current certification to practice as a solicitor in England and Wales. He joined the company in 1993, having previously been a solicitor in a large commercial law firm that specialized in intellectual property and information technology law.
FTPOnline: Steve, how would you define an enterprise architect? Who is this person?
Steve Nunn: There's a great deal of discussion surrounding just what the definition of the enterprise architect is. As you know, we're a member-sponsored group, and our members are having that discussion right now. Right now I would say that the enterprise architect is an IT person who understands the business and is willing and able to bridge that gap. Not many people can speak both languages. It involves application architecture and data architecture, and how they fit in. Are you familiar with the city planner model of enterprise architecture?
FTPOnline: We've heard talks on the subject.
Nunn: So basically, an enterprise architect would go about planning much like the city planner, who is concerned about basic services such as water and electricity [and] then looks at what type of roads and streets would serve the needs of the city. Based on that infrastructure, the planner would determine what kinds of buildings would be supported and required, and in that manner build a master plan for a city.
Rather than cobble things together, today we have organizations that have been built through mergers or rapid expansions, and have departments and systems within a single enterprise that had never been intended to interact together. Often these interactions fail and are discredited. With proper planning, through the application of an enterprise architecture, they have a better chance of succeeding because you get a much more thought-through requirement-driven approach.
The other aspect that defines an enterprise architect is the ability to communicate well across an organization. That's fairly essential within the technical and business communities, right up to the board level. With my background as an attorney, I understand that professions and organizations have a language all their own. The ability to speak to people in their language, and address their needs and concerns, is a big part of being an enterprise architect. The goal is to align IT with the business drivers of the goals of the organization.
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