The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Is Enterprise Architecture Emergent?

Gartner has settled on the term "Emergent Architecture" to describe what that they view as a new type of Enterprise Architecture (EA). It is focused on the connection between thebridge business rather than the products and structures that are used by the business itself. I found this an interesting distinction, since for as long as I can remember EA was focused on the "lines more than the boxes" if the EA was going to add any value at all. This started back with the introduction of OO techniques in the 80s, running through SOA techniques of today.

This looks like an attempt to take the "agile" and open source brush to architecture, which is good if the organization was too rigid, but organizations can't throw out the rigor because they want to be inclusive. There are definitely some good ideas in the emergent concept, but most of the EAs I know practice them already. My view is that enterprise architecture was about focusing innovation along specific lines, not stifling it. Granted feedback mechanisms need to be in place so that everyone learns when something doesn't work.  I think everyone knows that technology moves to0 quickly to have fixed standards.

Dion Hinchcliff has an interesting illustration in his blog entry showing the various pressures forcing change in the view of architecture.  Even this illustration has a project box within it and no real concept of service. I have to wonder about calling Emergent Architecture "non-deterministic" in the picture though. I view one of the functions of architecture, to determine the framework for creativity. It provides context. It should not be viewed as a free-for-all and still be called architecture.

Leo de Sousa also wrote a piece on how EAs  are doing this today, going into a bit more detail.

The EA must work with the business. The artifacts produced and techniques used provide context and are a bridge for developers, designers and engineers and help transfer knowledge between the business world and the technical world.

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