Information System Architecture: Enterprise Architecture And Its Implementation

Three Aspects of Information System Architecture

Every organization in the current times is required to manage its information and data sets. There are massive clusters of data and information that are associated with every business enterprise that needs to be managed. It is because there are several projects that are being simultaneously carried out along with numerous business processes and functions running in parallel. There are several resources and stakeholders associated with an enterprise that also need to be managed. The enterprises need to have a competitive edge in the market and are also required to earn enhanced profits and revenues. The role of information in all of these tasks is significant and it is essential that an adequate strategy and architecture is in place for effective handling and management of the information sets.

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There are three aspects of Information System Architecture that are currently followed in the enterprise.

The three aspects include the following:

  • Informational/Data Architecture: There are several data types that are supported by the enterprise. These data types include public data, sensitive data, private data, internal data, confidential data, etc. Each of these data types have their respective attributes and properties and are managed in this aspect of the information system architecture (Theorin et al., 2015).
  • Application Architecture: There are several applications that are needed for managing the information and data sets and the ones being used by the enterprise are included under this aspect of the information system architecture. These applications include the databases, data analytics tools, data warehousing tools, etc.
  • Technological Architecture: This aspect of the information architecture includes the primary set of technologies that are used and involved in the implementation of the applications along with the infrastructure that is implemented for the deployment of information systems. The technologies include Big Data, Business Intelligence concepts, cloud computing, etc. (Xuemin, Zhiming and Ping, 2012)

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is defined as the discipline that is implemented in the business enterprises to adequately structure the business and make sure that the operations are aligned with the IT systems. There are different frameworks that may be used for implementing EA in the enterprises and the ones that is currently implemented as a part of information system architecture is Zachman Framework. It is the framework that is implemented in the enterprises and showcases the relationship between the different elements and also represents the information sets from different perspectives (Shah and Kourdi, 2007).  

The Zachman Framework is implemented in the enterprise due to a variety of reasons. The first and the foremost are the business changes. In the current times, there are a lot of changes that come up for the business enterprises. These changes are in terms of the change in the customer expectations, technologies, user engagement levels, organizational policies, data sets, and many more. The occurrence of all of these changes has an impact on the business types and activities. It is necessary that adequate handling of the changes is done so that they have a positive implication on the business processes. Such capabilities are provided to the enterprise with the aid of the Zachman Framework. The framework provides a proactive approach to handle the existing set of enterprise functions and processes in order to manage the changes. The Zachman framework provides a two-dimensional approach for classifying and representing the business functions and processes. The structure is represented in the form of a matrix that comprises of 36 cells and each of these cells focus on a specific business perspective. The rows that are involved in the framework present the varied set of viewpoints that are associated in the system development process; however, the columns present the varied stakeholder perspectives associated with the business organization (Zachman, 1999).

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Enterprise Architecture and Zachman Framework

The image above depicts the 36 cells and the representation associated with each of these cells. The columns of the Zachman Framework depict the details of the business data and functions, details of the business functions, network of the business operations, people involved in the business processes and activities, business schedules and workflows, and motivation behind the performance of specific business tasks and activities. The rows of the Zachman framework provide the planner’s view in terms of the scope contexts. The other rows provide the information on the business concepts, system logic, technology physics, component assembles, and operation classes. There are various business processes and functions that are present and are then integrated in the framework.

Strengths

· Proactive Approach

· Effective change handling and management

· Integration of the business elements

· Streamlined business functions and operations

Weaknesses

· Poor estimations

· Absence of step by step methodology

· Each chain adopts a different scheme

Opportunities

· Incorporation of newer business technologies

· New business functions

· Enhanced employee and customer engagement and satisfaction levels

Threats

· Security threats and attacks

· New entrants in the market

· Changing customer expectations

The SWOT analysis of the existing framework and architecture is as shown in the table below. The Zachman Framework that is currently implemented provides a lot many benefits and strengths to the enterprise.

In the current occasions, there are great deals of changes that surface for the business ventures. These changes are as far as the change in the client desires, advances, client commitment levels, hierarchical arrangements, informational indexes, and some more. The event of these changes affects the business composes and exercises. It is essential that sufficient treatment of the changes is done as such that they have positive ramifications on the business forms. Such abilities are given to the venture the guide of the Zachman Framework. The framework gives a proactive way to deal with handle the current arrangement of big business capacities and procedures with the end goal to deal with the changes. The Zachman framework gives a two-dimensional way to deal with characterizing and speaking to the business capacities and procedures. The structure is spoken to as a matrix that includes 36 cells and every one of these cells centre around a particular business point of view. The rows that are engaged with the framework present the differed set of perspectives that are related in the framework advancement process; in any case, the columns present the fluctuated partner points of view related with the business association. There are various opportunities that are associated with the framework, such as incorporation and exploration of the new business technologies that may offer better change handling and business execution. For instance, Artificial Intelligence and newer models of Business Process Modeling may be used. The involvement of increased business functions to offer enhanced satisfaction to the employees and the customers may also be explored.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of Zachman Framework

There are a few drawbacks in the existing framework that is implemented in the enterprise. Each of the chains that are involved follows a different scheme which may bring up the coordination and collaboration issues for the enterprise. The calculations and estimations that are made on the basis of the information included under the framework are also not adequate. There is absence of a defined and a step by step methodology that is also witnessed. There may be a few threats that may come up in terms of the information security risks and attacks. The information sets are exposed to a lot many risks, such as denial of service attacks, data breaches, data loss, data manipulation issues, data leakage, distributed denial of service attacks, eavesdropping attacks, etc. The distribution of the information sets using the current architecture may be exposed to the threat agents as networks and people. There are new entrants in the market that may offer better change handling and target the customer expectations which may be a threat to the organization (Simsion, 2005).

The proposed future architecture to deal with the weaknesses and threats of the existing architecture is the inclusion of Gartner’s Enterprise Architecture Framework. The framework provides a multi-phase, iterative, and non-linear model that focuses upon the process development of the enterprise architecture evolution and mitigation along with the governance, organizational, and management sub-processes (Lapkin, 2008).  

The primary strategies that will be used to transform the existing situation to the proposed architecture will be the use of a phased approach and methodology. The transformation shall begin with the initiation phase in which the feasibility determination of the same shall be done. The transformation will require several changes at the organizational level, market level, customer level, and stakeholder level that shall be analysed from technical, operational, strategic, economic, and social aspects. A brief of the results shall then be prepared followed by the planning of the transformation. The calculation of the schedule and budget for transforming the enterprise architecture and framework shall be done using the Bottom-up strategy for estimations. There shall also be plans defined for the handling of changes, risk management, resource management & allocation, communication management, stakeholder management, and integration management (Zwikael, 2009). Once all the plans are in place, the actual transformation shall begin. It will require the migration of the data sets and services to the proposed architecture along with the migration of the systems. The analysis of the migration processes shall be done followed by the incorporation of security tools and newer business technology. Currently, there is not much focus on the security aspect of the information that is required to be done. In order to do so, the security tools and processes, such as anti-denial tools, anti-malware tools, advanced authentication schemes, advanced access control, multi-path encryption codes, and network-based security controls shall be integrated. The adoption of such a practice will make sure that the overall security of the framework is improved. It shall then be followed by the monitoring and control activities along with the closure of the process.

Proposed Future Architecture to Handle Existing Weaknesses and Threats

There are certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that shall be used to monitor the progress. The KPIs shall include the following:

  • Data Integrity Score: The transformation of the enterprise architecture from existing architecture to the new architecture will involve the migration of the data sets. It shall be ensured that the information properties and attributes are preserved during such a process and the integrity score shall be calculated to determine the progress.
  • Cost Variance: The gaps between the actual and estimated cost of transformation shall be calculated to understand the progress and the areas of improvement associated with the same with respect to the costs.
  • Schedule Variance: The gaps between the actual and estimated schedule of transformation shall be calculated to understand the progress and the areas of improvement associated with the same with respect to the schedule.
  • Feedback: There shall be a 360-degree feedback process used to come up with the comments from various sources, such as stakeholders, resources, customers etc. The comments provided by each of these entities will then provide a glimpse on the progress and performance.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): It shall be calculated at regular intervals to understand the benefits provided to the enterprise with such a move.

The current enterprise architecture framework that is implemented in the enterprise is Zachman Framework. There are several issues that were detected with the current architecture. Every one of the chains that are included pursues an alternate plan which may raise the coordination and joint effort issues for the endeavor. The counts and estimations that are made based on the data included under the framework are likewise not satisfactory. There is nonappearance of a characterized and a well ordered technique that is additionally seen. There might be a couple of dangers that may come up as far as the data security dangers and assaults. The data sets are presented to a great deal numerous dangers, for example, refusal of administration assaults, information ruptures, information misfortune, information control issues, information spillage, appropriated disavowal of administration assaults, listening stealthily assaults, and so on. The appropriation of the data sets utilizing the present architecture might be presented to the danger specialists as systems and individuals. There are new contestants in the market that may offer better change dealing with and focus on the client desires which might be a risk to the association. The proposed architecture is Gartner’s Enterprise Architecture Framework as it will overcome the issues (Tambouris et al., 2012).

The process recommended for the transformation is the use of a phased approach. It is adequate since there will be short-term goals that will be attached and defined to each of the phases. It will make it possible for the members of the enterprise to effectively carry out the transformation. The essential procedures that will be utilized to change the current circumstance to the proposed architecture will be the utilization of a staged methodology and approach. The change will start with the initiation stage in which the plausibility assurance of the equivalent will be finished. The change will require a few changes at the hierarchical level, showcase level, client level, and partner level that will be broke down from specialized, operational, key, monetary, and social viewpoints. A brief of the outcomes will then be readied trailed by the planning of the change. The count of the calendar and spending plan for changing the venture architecture and system will be finished utilizing the Bottom-up methodology for estimations. There will likewise be plans characterized for the treatment of changes, hazard administration, asset administration and designation, correspondence administration, partner administration, and incorporation administration. When every one of the plans is set up, the genuine change will start. It will require the migration of the informational collections and administrations to the proposed architecture alongside the migration of the frameworks. The examination of the migration forms will be done trailed by the consolidation of security instruments and more up to date business innovation. As of now, there isn’t much spotlight on the security part of the data that is required to be finished. With the end goal to do as such, the security devices and procedures, for example, hostile to disavowal devices, against malware instruments, propelled validation plans, propelled get to control, multi-way encryption codes, and system based security controls will be coordinated. The selection of such training will ensure that the general security of the system is moved forward. It will then be trailed by the checking and control exercises alongside the conclusion of the procedure. The existing issues, such as security loopholes, absence of a step by step methodology and likewise will also be avoided. The proposed architecture is based on the incorporation of latest technologies and mechanisms.

Conclusion 

The business organizations and enterprises are required to effectively manage and handle the data and information sets along with the business processes and functions. Enterprise Architecture (EA) frameworks are used and implemented in the business organizations to make sure that enterprise processes and activities are adequately done. Zachman Framework is one of such frameworks that has been defined and is implemented in the enterprise. There are a few loopholes associated with the framework in terms of the estimation strategy, step by step procedure, and likewise. The proposed architecture is Gartner’s EA framework which will make sure that the issues associated with the Zachman framework are avoided.  

References

Lapkin, A. (2018). Gartner’s Enterprise Architecture Process and Framework Help Meet 21st Century Challenges. [online] Gartner.com. Available at: https://www.gartner.com/doc/486650/gartners-enterprise-architecture-process-framework [Accessed 30 Oct. 2018].

Shah, H. and Kourdi, M. (2007). Frameworks for Enterprise Architecture. IT Professional, 9(5), pp.36-41.

Simsion, G. (2005). What’s Wrong With The Zachman Framework?. [online] TDAN.com. Available at: https://tdan.com/whats-wrong-with-the-zachman-framework/5279 [Accessed 30 Oct. 2018].

Tambouris, E., Zotou, M., Kalampokis, E. and Tarabanis, K. (2012). Fostering enterprise architecture education and training with the enterprise architecture competence framework. International Journal of Training and Development, 16(2), pp.128-136.

Theorin, A., Bengtsson, K., Provost, J., Lieder, M., Johnsson, C., Lundholm, T. and Lennartson, B. (2015). An Event-Driven Manufacturing Information System Architecture. IFAC-PapersOnLine, 48(3), pp.547-554.

Xuemin, Z., Zhiming, S. and Ping, G. (2012). The Process of Information Systems Architecture Development. Procedia Engineering, 29, pp.775-779.

Zachman, J. (1999). A framework for information systems architecture. IBM Systems Journal, 38(2.3), pp.454-470.

Zwikael, O. (2009). The Relative Importance of the PMBOK® Guide’s Nine Knowledge Areas during Project Planning. Project Management Journal, 40(4), pp.94-103.