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July 25, 2011 / David Bleeker

Rethinking the layers in enterprise-architecture

Tom Graves has a great discussion the traditional enterprise architecture layering. It seems as if there are a good number of EAs looking to start over with a fresh perspective. I happen to be one of them.

What’s come up this time is the usual struggle with the so-called ‘architectural layers’ in common EA frameworks such as TOGAF and Archimate:

  • Business
  • Applications (in Archimate) or Information Systems (in TOGAF)
  • Infrastructure

The problem is that, for me, these are ridiculously incomplete, and lead directly to IT-centrism – where IT is deemed to be the sole centre and basis for everything. That IT-centrism what creates most of the much-lamented ‘business/IT-divide’.

The corollary is that, because IT is placed as the centre for everything, and applications only run on IT, everything else has to be lumped into ‘business-architecture’, because it’s the only place it can go. Hence in TOGAF, for example, high-level business-strategy is bundled together with mid-level process and detail-level manual work-instruction, without any kind of distinctions between them, solely because it’s ‘not-IT’. And technology and infrastructure that isn’t computer-based – lorries, fork-lift trucks, assembly-lines, plumbing and wiring and even the buildings within which everything operates – don’t even get a mention anywhere.

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