Gartner on the New Enterprise Architecture

A Gartner special report explores the four elements of a new foundation in enterprise architecture:

– The “grid”
– Architectural styles that represent key business processes
– Patterns, which are logical technology models
– Core technology building blocks, which we call “bricks,” that link to the grid

Elaborates Gartner (I like some of these research firms’ reports because they introduce a nice variety of new terms, besides giving the occasional good idea):

The notion of the grid has its roots in the trickle-down of the Internet, using its concepts of access, componentization and interoperability for the interconnection of multiple enterprises. It is an interoperability platform. Some of the core components of the grid include the “multienterprise nervous system,” a security and availability management system, information and application management, data exchange through XML and its tools, governance rules and development platform methodologies. The multienterprise nervous system manages network traffic, connects, manages, monitors, translates protocols, integrates and does real-time status management – all facilitating dynamic system interconnection among enterprises. It is the smart network all grown up. Our future vision shows the grid becoming more of a living system, by being self-aware and able to self-heal, self-reconstitute and self-manage.

Bricks are foundational architectural elements, such as operating systems or databases that link to the grid to provide technology function. These bricks are the basic elements for building systems. They can have varying levels of granularity from specific components, such as gateways to platforms. Think of the grid as providing the “juice” that enables these bricks across enterprises to communicate.

Patterns are groupings of bricks – essentially logical models of technology. The concept of patterns is useful because patterns can be reused and can help create a shared vocabulary around specific design and implementation considerations. Some types of two- and three-tier computing models are examples of patterns. So are hub-and-spoke and message warehouses. The key is to leverage patterns so that they enable cross-enterprise component specification and use. For example, logical extensions to the user interface, business logic and data layers enable departmental, enterprise and cross-enterprise architectures.

Architectural styles, the last of the key elements, bring the business domain into the architecture process. Key business process elements – for example, the need to manage shared inventories, or allow multienterprise postings against a supply database by collaborative-commerce partners – require a different style of computing: a collaborative style in the first, and a transactional style in the second. Think of these styles as templates for viewing how common business processes can be standardized and then devolved into patterns and bricks. We have defined five styles: transaction processing, real time, analytical, collaborative and utility. Each of these business process examples is best-served by a different architectural approach.

New terms learnt: multienterprise nervous system, governance rules, dynamic system interconnection, foundational architectural elements, cross-enterprise component specification.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.