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Wikipedia and the definition of Enterprise Architecture

Wikipedia and the definition of Enterprise Architecture

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I was asked, this week, about a page that I had put into Wikipedia nearly three years ago.  Far from being able to take credit for it, I discovered that many of the edits made since I put the page up corrupted it to the point of uselessness.  Alas, after changing that page back, I checked out my favorite page: Enterprise Architecture. 

And it was unrecognizable.

The entire page had been rewritten by a single person (Matthew Kern) who, apparently, believes that “Enterprise Architecture” == FEAF (The US Government EA Framework).  While I applaud Mr. Kern’s desire to include cited sources for his statements, his decision to ignore all of the prior content and contributions and toss out all of the compromises along the way seems both short-sighted and arrogant, to say the least. 

I endeavor to let the current author settle a bit, and then change most of the article back, but for the sake of documentation, I wanted to share the direction that Mr. Kern wants to take the Wikipedia article on EA.  Gentle readers, do you agree with Mr. Kern’s decision, or do you support my intent to revert to the original material?

Previous Opening Section (compromise text) New Opening section
An enterprise architecture (EA) is a rigorous description of the structure of an enterprise, which comprises enterprise components (business entities), the externally visible properties of those components, and the relationships (e.g. the behavior) between them.

EA describes the terminology, the composition of enterprise components, and their relationships with the external environment, and the guiding principles for the requirement (analysis), design, and evolution of an enterprise.

This description is comprehensive, including enterprise goals, business process, roles, organizational structures, organizational behaviors, business information, software applications and computer systems.
Enterprise architecture (EA) is a term first used in print in NIST SP 500-167 a US Federal Government Document from the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in 1989. It is currently a mandatory practice in the US Federal Government: OMB Circular A-130 describes enterprise architecture and subordinate activities in some detail, in response to the Clinger Cohen Act (IT Management Reform Act) of 1996 mandatory requirement for government organizations (enterprises) to have an "IT architecture". The term has subsequently (after first use in 1989 by the US Federal Government) been used in foreign governments and in commercial practice.

According to the U.S. Federal Government: "An EA is the explicit description and documentation of the current and desired relationships among business and management processes and information technology. It describes the "current architecture" and "target architecture" to include the rules and standards and systems life cycle information to optimize and maintain the environment which the agency wishes to create and maintain by managing its IT portfolio. The EA must also provide a strategy that will enable the agency to support its current state and also act as the roadmap for transition to its target environment. These transition processes will include an agency's capital planning and investment control processes, agency EA planning processes, and agency systems life cycle methodologies. The EA will define principles and goals and set direction on such issues as the promotion of interoperability, open systems, public access, compliance with GPEA, end user satisfaction, and IT security. The agency must support the EA with a complete inventory of agency information resources, including personnel, equipment, and funds devoted to information resources management and information technology, at an appropriate level of detail."


What say you?

  • I support your decision, the FEA should be a separate page.

    I will reiterate a semi-related recommendation I've proposed to you and other EAs in the blogosphere STOP COMMENTING on Federal EA.   The more I read commercial EA's comments the clearer it is that you do not understand what we are up against, the same goes for fed EAs, your job has very little in common with someone working at Microsoft, Apple.. .  The government is not a business, EAs seem to like analogies, so maybe one of us are veterinarians and the other is medical doctor, that's how tenuous the connection is IMO.

  • Hi Joe,

    I have not heard you make that comment to me before.  I will have no difficulty respecting your wishes, since I don't largely comment on the FEA now.

    I find the tone of your request curious.  Our lead EA methodologist in the Microsoft IT Enterprise Architecture team is a former Federal EA (HHS, I believe) and is well aware of FEA rules and guidelines.  We are actively learning from him and many of our practices internally are based on experiences from the trenches of federal EA.

    From a methodology standpoint, the FEA is fairly strong and stands as a useful mechanism for understanding EA.  That said, the FEA is not oriented around strategy, since the mission and vision of federal departments, as well as many elements of structure and governance, is described by congress and is written in myriad, sometimes conflicting, legislative edicts.  That creates a very different environment for Enterprise Architecture to leverage and use the artifacts that are produced.  

    I'd like to discuss this disconnect further.  If you are willing to reach out to me personally, via this blog, I will respond and perhaps we can set up a Skype call, where you can share your perspective.  I am honestly curious about the kinds of messages that you are hearing from the commercial community.

    --- Nick

  • I agree with you, Nick.  You should redo the page.  You should take down what Mr. Kern did.  You work for Microsoft, after all, so therefore, you have greater authority and qualification to be writing technological articles over on Wikipedia.  

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