Mike Walker wrote a great thought-provoking blog post on the implications SaaS has on Enterprise Architecture. Although he noted some very interesting points, I thought I’d extend this a bit and describe the impact of my life as it pertains to SaaS because coincidentally, I'm an Enterprise Architect and am personally tasked in an initiative to help solve how Microsoft IT is involved with SaaS. So, I'm in the throes of the interesting implications of how I do my job as I address this challenge.
I posted some of the thoughts on how I address business analysis as part of defining the Business Architecture. I break up the problem space into two very different areas: Business Analysis for Consuming SaaS and Business Analysis for Providing SaaS. Here are the blogs respectively.
Because I'm short on time let me blurt out some comments in the area of "EA implications for consuming SaaS software":
In short, SaaS provides a lot of potential cost savings that are of high interest BUT they do bring with them some interesting challenges to an Enterprise Architect to make sure that SaaS sofware is optimized for the business investment.
Gabriel, great extension of my scenario of dealing with SaaS dominated enterprises. I specificly like the extension of the ideas around business architecture and APM.
Gabriel's comments about cloud computing and integration are key to the future of enterprise architecture. SaaS, S+S and cloud structured and unstructured information archiving are here now in the form of integration engines.
I have long wondered why it was so difficult to move unstructured information between different applications, devices and locations. It wasn't easy but we created something to perform this task.
Our first product is adapted to Documentum repositories but others will follow quickly.
This changes much of the enterprise architectural thinking about unstructured information, integration and cloud computing.
One of the big issues of cloud computing is the "what if" scenario of the cloud going away. What if there is a network failure, what if the Internet as we know it collapses under the combined weight of larger content file downloads, advertising, spam and commercial use, what happens of a competitor buys that cloud, what happens if someone accidently pulls the plug, etc., what if the cloud owner goes under?
In the case of a vulnerable cloud the enterprise cannot be vendor dependent, cannot be slow to adapt to new cloud vendors and needs to be very agile with its structured and unstructured information.
By agile I mean that the enterprise needs to be able to one day see that the cloud is vulnerable and the next day be pointing to a different cloud or simultaneously be using two different ones, perhaps mirrored to provide fail-over or quick disaster recovery. The also need portable information. The information, and massive amounts of it, may need to moved from one application, cloud or organization to another on short notice or even as the result of an automated business process.
Not only do they need to be agile but they need to compliant and manage the information according to rules in order to be compliant with regulatory compliance legislation. They can't just "chuck stuff over the wall" and forget about it.
With today's technology they just can't do all of this without massive expenditure. Sorry can't be done. Our vision is pointing to exactly that.