Welcome!

XML Authors: Trevor Parsons, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Mike Kavis

Related Topics: PowerBuilder, Java, XML, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, AJAX & REA

PowerBuilder: Article

A Pragmatic Approach to Enterprise Architecture

Examples from the Financial Services industry

Managing complexity is difficult in any growing business. As companies innovate, add new business lines, expand their global reach, cater to increased volume, or adopt new regulatory rules, processes proliferate and the discipline surrounding them goes out of the window. Moreover, the IT that supports these processes becomes more entangled as aging legacy applications jostle with new applications to support the needs of the business. Over time the technology that support this business unravels, causing the environment to suffer from instability and poor performance and become difficult to change and maintain. In short, it lowers business efficiency and effectiveness.

A sound Enterprise Architecture (EA) approach is required to ensure that both the business and technology are well aligned and will help restore order to this landscape. An Enterprise Architecture is a description of the goals of a company, how these goals are realized by business processes, and how these business processes can be better served through technology. EA is about finding opportunities to use technology to add business value.

The primary purpose of an EA is to inform, guide, and constrain the decisions for the enterprise, especially those related to IT investments. The true challenge of EA is to maintain the architecture as a primary authoritative resource for enterprise IT planning. This goal is not met via enforced policy, but by the value and utility of the information provided by the EA.

Why Have an EA Approach:

  • Provides a basic framework for major change initiatives
  • Divides and conquers technical and organizational complexities
  • Supports business and IT budget prioritization
  • Improves the ability to share and efficiently process information
  • Provides the ability to respond faster to changes in technology and business needs
  • Reduces costs due to economies of scale and resource sharing
  • Enhances productivity, flexibility and maintainability
  • Serves as a construction blueprint and ensures consistency across systems
  • Supports decision making

More specific benefits include:

  • Simplified application development
  • Quality
  • Integration
  • Extensibility
  • Location transparency
  • Horizontal scaling
  • Isolation
  • Portability
  • Reuse

An EA is a blueprint that is developed, implemented, maintained, and used to explain and guide how an organization's applications landscape works together to efficiently accomplish the mission of the organization. An EA addresses the following views:

  • Business activities and processes
  • Data sets and information flows
  • Applications and software
  • Technology

The Four Pillars of Enterprise Architecture:
1.
Business Architecture
Business Architecture realizes the business strategy. It describes how we organize our business processing to meet the strategic needs of the business. It should allow us to maximize the flexibility of the business to respond to changing business environments, reduce the complexity of our environment by simplifying business processing and reduce the effort required for application implementation and maintenance. It provides a view of the business and describes where we can improve business functions.

Examples:

  • Create processing utilities for common functions within the back office area that support cross products such as confirmations, cash settlement, security settlement, and collateral management
  • Create a single common analytics versus an individual analytics library used for pricing products. Common analytics can be used for all front office trading desks, for different functions such as front office and risk

2. Data Architecture
The data architecture describes the way data will be processed, stored and used by the organization. It lays out the criteria on processing operations including the whole flow of the system. It should increase the accuracy and timeliness of business data used by applications.

An example of patterns used is Master Data Management (MDM) - its objective is to provide processes for collecting, aggregating, quality-assuring, persisting and distributing such data throughout an organization to ensure consistency and control in the on-going maintenance and application of this information. Moving to a model of a single golden data source will eliminate duplication and inefficiency, e.g., single bond static data sourced from multiple data vendors and publishing it to multiple systems (e-trading, trading, risk and PL, and settlement systems.)

Implement a firm-wide description of common data objects, e.g., fpML (open standard XML standard for electronic dealing and OTC derivatives processing). This will reduce the risk of the data being misunderstood and provide a higher quality of data flowing through the organization thereby increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

3. Applications architecture
Applications architecture describes the structure and behavior of applications used in a business, focusing on how they interact with each other and with users. It's focused on the data consumed and produced by applications rather than their internal structure.

Examples:

  • Enforcing the use of a golden source of data, e.g., instrument static, counterparty static, market data, etc.
  • Standardizing on an application platform and interfacing approach
  • Implementing a standard application monitoring framework for all applications to report the business status

4. Technical Architecture
This describes the common technology components that will be used to build our applications. This includes standards for vendor packages, third-party products and application components, e.g., servers, networks, desktops, middleware, security, storage, and virtualization. This will describe the current and target state.

Examples:

  • SSO should be a standard mechanism for user authentication for all enterprise applications
  • Implement a server virtualization strategy to help reduce costs and increase flexibility
  • All critical applications should have a recovery time of less than an hour
  • Have a technology menu of strategic products that development teams can use for projects

Building an EA for Your Organization
It is important to understand the business strategy of the organization and this drives everything. This vision and strategy will drive where the organization's IT environment and capabilities should be in the next three years.

The next step in this process is to characterize the current status and snapshot the existing IT capabilities. The word "characterize" is used because it isn't usually necessary to identify and analyze everything IT or information related in the organization. You just need enough data to understand the basic situation you are in and the problems that exist, and to develop an idea of where you want to go. You need to understand where the inefficiencies and duplications exist. The question is whether IT is being used in the most effective way to accomplish the organization's program goals.

What Work Is Performed?
You must have a clear understanding of what work the organization performs and where it is performed (anywhere from one location to multiple locations throughout the world).

What Information Is Needed and by Whom?
You need to understand the basic flow of information, not just within your organization but also to and from your organization, and what the information consists of and how that information is organized.

What Applications Are Used to Process that Information?
What software is used to process, analyze, etc., the needed information? What types of data structures and protocols are used?

What Technology Is Used to Perform the Work?
What IT hardware infrastructure is currently used?

Having formed an understanding of where you currently stand, you now need to try to figure out where you need to be in the future. There are two main drivers for this:

  1. Business drivers tell you that you need to do business differently. Customers may be demanding better or different services.
  2. Technology drivers tell you that technology is providing you with options for doing things better

The target architecture is the heart of the process. The four components (business architecture, data architecture [e.g., data sets and information flows], application architecture and technical architecture) of the EA need to be modeled separately. Security considerations should be addressed throughout. The process consists of defining each set of architectural components and its key attributes. The result is an organized set of definitions and models to reflect the different views of the architecture. Again, the relative complexity of the situation will determine how detailed and extensive this effort and documentation needs to be. The four components are then synthesized into a comprehensive target architecture.

Due to the rapid pace of technology advancement, the goal should be to produce an "evolvable" architecture that can accommodate change easily. Some rules to help to produce this are - keep things modular and loosely coupled, have well-defined boundaries between systems and components, reusable logic should be divided into services, use industry-standard interfaces, use open-systems standards, and use common mechanisms whenever possible. Planning for loosely coupled, modular systems with clear boundaries allows you to change portions of the IT architecture without having to revise other aspects in the architecture, and also helps you see how changes in one part of the architecture may affect other elements.

At this point, you are in a position to determine the gaps between your current and target architectures. What are the differences between your baseline and the architecture you want to achieve?

Architecture Governance
For architecture to succeed within an organization, it is essential to have the support and commitment of senior management. This major initiative needs sponsorship by the CIO, and senior management need to be supportive and fully involved in ensuring it is a success. The governance process needs to ensure that:

  • People planning and developing IT systems do so in a way consistent with the target  architecture
  • Procurements are consistent with the target architecture
  • Determine if exceptions or changes to the Enterprise Architecture are needed for a specific system or procurement
  • Track the implementation of the architecture migration plan and the benefits/flaws of the Enterprise Architecture
  • Keep the EA up-to-date, thereby reflecting changes in the business, new technology, etc.

There needs to be integration with the program planning and the budget processes.

Technology is changing rapidly and business needs and processes change over time. Therefore, the target architecture, whether fully implemented or not, that addresses how IT and information will serve business needs must be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect these changes.

It is important that EA is not used as a mechanism that attempts to slow down delivery unnecessarily; it needs to add value to the business by producing superior solutions and not add unnecessary bureaucracy. A pragmatic approach to architecture is needed that balances the needs for agility and innovation yet delivers the efficiency and effectiveness in the technology solution provided by EA.

Architecture Principles
Architecture principles define the fundamental assumptions and rules of conduct for the IT organization to create and maintain IT capability. It provides a compass to guide it to its target architecture. A well-defined architecture principle consists of a name, definition, motivation and implications. Table 1 shows the Architecture Principles on the Reuse, Buy, Build Principle.

Table 1: Reuse, Buy, Build Principle

Definition

(What)

We prefer to reuse existing assets over buying, and buying over building

Motivation

(Why)

We are not a software company

Our company has many IT assets that are underleveraged because we have previously favored building rather than reusing or buying

We have many redundant applications and reducing this through reuse will reduce maintenance costs and improve system stability

Implications

(How)

Architecture Governance will ensure projects adhere to this principle.

 

Our company will develop an understanding of functional and technical assets available for reuse. This will be kept up to date.

 

We will strive for fewer and deeper software vendor relationships and need to influence their roadmaps to mesh with our needs

 

To add a new tool to our portfolio, we will also plan and fund replacement of the installed base of the former tool

Architecture principles become a core shared assumption for all initiatives in the enterprise. This radically simplifies decision making. It ensures that all projects align with and are moving toward the target state

Other enterprise architecture principles an organization might consider include:

  • Don't Automate Bad Business Complexity Principle
  • Avoid Package Customization Principle
  • Prefer Service Orientation over Application Orientation Principle
  • Don't Over / Under Engineer Principle

An example of the Banking Specific Architecture Principle:

  • Only a master source of data can create business events
  • All processing should be STP with manual interventions only for exceptions
  • Combine multiple analytics libraries into a single common library (depends on trading desk size and product complexity!)

Conclusion
EA is important and without it organizations will be unable to deliver technology in an efficient and effective manner. If a project team works anyway they want to, and use any technology they want to, chaos will result. Functionality and information will be duplicated and reuse will occur sporadically, if at all. There will be conflict between systems that cause each other to fail. Individual projects may be deemed successful, but as a portfolio there may be serious challenges. Systems don't exist in vacuum, but rather co-exist with several and sometimes hundreds of other systems. For example, building a Bloomberg interface to store bond static and prices built by the rates front office IT group may be viewed as a success in isolation, but such functionality are required by many systems within the organization, e.g., e-trading, pricing analytics, risk, settlement systems, and other front office trading applications, e.g., credit derivatives and repo. If each area builds such functionality, costs skyrocket (e.g., multiple Bloomberg licenses, duplication of interfaces, data, hardware), and it increases complexity and operational risk within the organization. EA plays a fundamental role in preventing such scenarios from occurring.

More Stories By Sanjeev Khurana

Sanjeev Khurana is Head of Development at a large European Investment Bank and has over 20 years of IT experience. He has also been a part time Lecturer at Universities such as Brunel, Middlesex, Greenwich teaching undergraduates and postgraduates Software Engineering.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...