It’s usually bad form to question some aspect of enterprise architecture which over the last 15 years has rightly come to be seen as essential. Enterprise architects are suspicious of attempts to undermine a role that has taken some time to really be understood and accepted as a core requirement for enterprise IT. However given that enterprise IT is normally based on a client server, close coupled and state full systems environment then maybe we do have to ask some questions about how enterprise architecture adapts and works with business technology delivered as ‘services’ that are loose coupled and inherently stateless.

This point got reinforced by a call from Sally Bean one of the organisers of the annual European Enterprise Architects Conference and some interesting sounding topics aiming at this point during the event from 8th – 10th June in the UK. As is often the case the conversation linked up with a particularly fascinating blog on the  site entitled ‘all inclusive enterprise architecture’  in which the whole question of enterprise architecture based on The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF) ‘to support the delivery of business strategy’ is challenged. This is a must read document if you are really interested in this topic!

The challenge is that business strategy is now frequently based on business model change in order to compete in a new market in a new way using the new technologies enabled by the web and clouds. This refers to orchestrations of loose coupled services increasingly implemented through simple APIs into a cloud layer that handles the allocation of resources. An approach deliberately designed to reduce complexity, time to change, dependencies and just about every other important aspect that enterprise architecture is there to address.

So am I advocating the end of enterprise architecture? No, just the end of believing its current scope and format is enough. As the strategic structure post also concludes we need to add an ability to grasp process as well as the actions and activities of people, hence the increasing interest in business process management. That’s tricky so is there a framework or an approach we can use for this? I wasn’t sure there was until a colleague pointed me to a genuine breakthrough – at least for me – in how to approach this in a remarkable book called Business Model Generation http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/. The website doesn’t do it justice to be honest. As it’s a co-creation of 470 practitioners from 45 countries it is also part of our new world of communities and co-sourcing being able to achieve more than an author and colleagues can achieve. (I am proud to say that my colleague Bas van Oosterhout is one of the seven primary co-workers).

Again I have no shortcut to take you through this work, which I can only summarise as providing a new approach around nine building blocks; key activities; key partners; key resources; cost structure together with customer relationship; customer segments; value propositions; channels and revenue streams. I have included the headings as they show how it is truly an all embracing model for an enterprise’s activities rather than a model for the computerisation of certain procedures. The detail is excellent as the book proceeds into patterns and then industry examples. Please buy it and either read it yourself or give it to your chief architect and major protagonist in the business!

IPv6 and World Test Day

I’d like to end with something different but connected in so far as we are moving towards a wider selection of devices working by using IP networking to find and run services from clouds. That means we are dependant on dedicated IP addresses and we need a lot of them! At this point you may recognise that I am about to tell you that IPv4 addresses have run out, maybe, but I suspect there is enough addresses held by ISPs currently not to make a hard deadline out of this for a few months. But just how much do you know about IPv6 other than it provides a lot more addresses? And if you assume that it’s a simple replacement or a simple coexistence then you may be in for a shock.

I firmly recommend you to take advantage of IPv6 test day on June 8th 2011 when you can really find out if your rosy view on IPv6 and your current environment is true. Take a moment to find out more and seriously try to do some testing and build up your experience.