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Enterprise Architecture with PowerDesigner 15.1

Integrating multiple industry standard models together

This article will discuss what Enterprise Architecture is, why you need it and how you can achieve it. The term Enterprise Architecture (EA) can mean different things to different people. For the confines of this article, we will use a definition from Paul Weill, Director of MIT Center for Information Systems Research, which states, "Enterprise Architecture is the organization of logic for business processes and IT infrastructure, reflecting the integration and standardization requirements of the firm's operation model."

In breaking EA down we understand that "enterprise" equals "business" and "architecture" is "how things are designed and constructed"; you can start to see that EA in basic terms is about "how businesses are designed and constructed." Businesses are designed and constructed based on their information and/or metadata and how it is managed. The way to manage metadata is through models. Models provide abstraction to simplify complexity, increase understanding through visual representations, and provide governance to increase consistency and reusability throughout the organization.

An EA Model is based on three views into the organization:

  1. Business view: Analyzes the business through organizational charts, business communication, and a map of processes to document business functions. This view includes people, organizational units, roles, business flow, functions, and processes.
  2. Information view: Analyzes and documents application assets, application systems, services, applications, databases, components, forms, ETL, areas, and documents.
  3. Technology view: Consists of sites, networks, nodes, hardware and software servers, deployment instances, application/database/service/form deployment instance, etc.

Within these views you will find systems that involve people, rules, processes and technology. The EA Model is used for corporate governance, compliance with standards or regulations, but also for development and change management rationalization (costs/efficiency), technology shift, acquisitions/mergers, etc.

A key challenge that EA is trying to address is the blurring of the implicit and explicit business ideas that get hidden in the business processes and IT systems that support them. Why is this fact important to companies? Easy, you need a clear vision into your company's processes and systems in order to make money. A clear and concise view ensures that you know the "Business Drivers" affecting your IT systems:

  • Business Agility and IT Alignment
    • Impact Analysis reduces time, cost and risk
    • Change Management eases implementation
  • Regulatory Compliance
    • MiFD, SOX, Basel II demand consistent standards
    • Traceability reports provide insurance

-         Ensure all holes are found/covered

-         Reduces impact of an audit

  • Foundation for SOA
    • Depends on consistent integration
    • Repository of Assets aligned to Process

Keep in mind an EA is a dynamic environment and therefore you need a way to keep track of all the changes and how they affect each view. It helps to answer the question as to what and why IT is doing something, but without real-time detailed descriptions and specifications how can you possibly know?

One best practice that has emerged in the past few years is the concept of an integrated approach to EA. EA is an "integration" of business objectives, data, information systems, IT infrastructure, people, organizational bodies, business rules, and business processes. You may be asking, what is the point of integrating all this? Let's look at some basic business questions:

  • What are the business objectives, goals, and requirements?
  • What tools and technologies will be used to implement the goals, objectives, and requirements of the business?
  • Which groups will have access to these tools?
  • Besides making money, how will the benefits of EA be measured?

The integrated approach to EA attempts to answer these questions by integrating the business objectives with the people who carry out the realization of those objectives, the rules and processes they follow, and the systems that are built for use in the pursuit of those objectives.

Take a look at Table 1, which shows the integrated approach to EA. You see the points of intersection between the business and technology factors that underlie the design of an IT solution for a business purpose. [1]

In Table 1 we can see how business and technology factors intersect in the design of an IT solution that addresses a business need. The integrated approach to EA dictates that any system or process design, any proposed change to business rules or infrastructure, or the like, should be run through a thought process that takes the related business and technology factors into consideration. [1]

Still not sure why a business would need an integrated approach? Without an integrated approach companies will get bogged down with "information silos." Information silos do not allow the free flow of knowledge about the architecture of the enterprise. These silos need to be removed in order to empower enterprise architects to move from responding to business directives to assisting in setting business strategy - hence an integrated EA strategy to ensure the alignment of both business and IT.

The integrated EA approach creates a check-point system that allows business managers and those that support them to ensure that their business plan is clear and concise and can effectively be translated into a complete system, including the IT components. An integrated approach keeps each stakeholder "honest" to ensure alignment with the higher business objectives and strategies.

Now that we have discussed what EA is, and why you need it, let's discuss how you can achieve it...with PowerDesigner. PowerDesigner for EA provides users with a roadmap to a successful implementation by helping each user identify their starting point, the route and the intersections. It gets users to their destination without losing business continuity.

As we discussed earlier, models provide the day-to-day collection and easy visualization of the knowledge in the enterprise - it's where we draw business processes, data models, application structure, service dependencies, and more. Models are the user interface to metadata and are where we do the inserts, updates, and deletes of the knowledge we have.

This information is stored in the repository, and with a fully integrated modeling set with integrated repository we can be sure the information stored there is up-to-date, accurate and complete. This is key because the value to the enterprise architect is in using that repository to answer the classic question: What is the impact to the enterprise if I recommend a given change?  Maybe the change is technical and we want to see the impact to business, maybe the change is business and we need to know what technology is affected, and how complex and hard that change is to make?

PowerDesigner integrates multiple industry standard models together within a robust metadata repository to define and describe all aspects of the business and IT infrastructures to support alignment, business agility, and regulatory compliance with metadata management.

PowerDesigner empowers the implementation of an Enterprise Architecture by:

  • Providing an integrated modeling and design environment that combines multiple industry standard techniques
  • Allowing users to illustrate the business, information and technology views while providing rich round-trip engineering capabilities
  • Working with all leading development and infrastructure environments
  • Enabling full impact analysis and reporting capabilities with an enterprise repository
  • Ensuring a fit into any organization with rich customization and extension capabilities
  • Enforcing the specific standards and practices adopted by each organization

The PowerDesigner advantage is the ability to visually communicate to all levels of management and all internal teams.


1. Enterprise Architecture for Dummies - Sybase PowerDesigner Edition

More Stories By Courtney E. Driscoll

Courtney Driscoll is a Product Manager at Sybase, an SAP Company. Courtney manages PowerDesigner,the industry-leading modeling and metadata management solution for data architecture, information architecture and enterprise architecture. She has over 10 years of experience in the industry and has been working at Sybase since 2000.

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