It’s the Open Group Enterprise Architects Practitioners meeting in Austin, Texas, and it’s notable for the fact that they are the group under fire, both from inside the profession and from others outside, and the cause of the fire? SOA of course! The opening speaker Dave Linthicum set the context with the remark; ‘there seem to be two groups of people out there, the world of enterprise architecture and the world of SOA. The funny thing is that those in each world think that they can do the other world’s jobs’. Read his presentation here.
This statement encapsulated the reoccurring theme in many of the sessions, and highlighted the start by the Open Group a year or more ago around effort to get better business languages for expressing requirements. Unfortunately progress isn’t good for just the reason Dave gave, the two sides seem to be struggling to get it together. The Enterprise Architects rightfully see themselves as the responsible keepers of a properly integrated cohesive IT system supporting the business, and the others…?

Well it’s a bit like watching a replay of the data centre manager trying to stop the Networked PC destroying the well managed Computing environment. And of course the ‘others’ in this case won, well at least for a while until it became clear that the incoherency and fragmentation of information was damaging the Enterprise. So does that mean I am totally on the side of the Enterprise Architects? Definitely not, instead I believe that we have to accept that we are facing something new in the business use of technology, just like in the PC era, and have to change our approach to accommodate this. Try the blog by Todd Biske live from the event for comments that are more in line with my thinking.
But I want to go one stage further and question the assumption of it being the role of an Enterprise Architect to create reusable Services. To me there is a crucial stage before this around working out Business reusable Tasks that can then be captured into Services. After all if the business task itself cannot be defined in a reusable way what hope is there of building a reusable technology captured Service? Seems obvious, but not something I heard commented upon once, other than in my own presentation.
It’s for this reason I support the concept of a Business Architect who can work with the Business side in their own language using vertical sector knowledge to identify this, and the optimised business processes. But when it comes to managing the overall Services environment, and orchestrations, then I come back to the rigour of Enterprise Architects. So it is two different groups of people and skills but I am not sure that either of them understands the others world enough to figure out why they both have a role to play.