Managing Complexity with EA

Over time, technology provides more and more functions and hopefully value to your enterprise. The challenge is how to manage the complexity that comes with technology. I started my IT career as an IBM 360 mainframe computer operator managing VM/CMS and DOS/VSE CICS systems. IT architectures were relatively simple. One large computer, a few large boxes for hard disk drives, several tape drives and an a large line printer. For the most part, our clients interacted with printouts and some lucky ones got access to 3270 green screen terminals.

Think about today … while our technology provides a very functionally rich environment for delivering value to our organizations, the technological complexity has gone through the roof.

Delivering our ERP in 1992 took one IBM RS/6000 RISC box with Oracle 6 RDBMS and Oracle forms installed on all client PCs. Now we need a P Series Server running AIX (Unix) for the Oracle database, VMWare Servers running SUSE (Linux) for the Oracle Application Server(s), Load Balancers, DNS servers, DHCP Servers, Novell network servers and various workstations (PCs running Windows XP and IE 6 or 7 with client side Java)!!!

So how do we as Enterprise Architects manage complexity? We created an Application Portfolio with attributes about the components that the applicaiton requires like:

  • identity store
  • web enabled
  • database server o/s
  • application server o/s
  • web server o/s
  • web server
  • database
  • application development environment
  • etc ..

We have over 200 applications with at least 7 distinct solution delivery platforms:

  • Oracle – J2EE
  • LAMP
  • Microsoft – .Net
  • Lotus Domino
  • Sun
  • Apple
  • Novell

Now we are working on the second year of our Technology Plan (rolling 3 year window). As part of this we will be looking to favour “depth in our technology choices over breadth”. We will focus on Oracle, LAMP and Microsoft. Investing in these solution platforms will allow us to focus our people on a managed set of technologies and be able to more rapidly respond to our clients needs.

Anyone else thinking “Deep instead of Wide”??