||This article appears to contain a large number of buzzwords. (February 2013)|
Enterprise architecture (EA) is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating and improving the key requirements, principles and models that describe the enterprise's future state and enable its evolution.
Practitioners of EA call themselves enterprise architects. An enterprise architect is a person responsible for performing this complex analysis of business structure and processes and is often called upon to draw conclusions from the information collected. By producing this understanding, architects are attempting to address the goals of Enterprise Architecture: Effectiveness, Efficiency, Agility, and Durability.
Enterprise architecture is an ongoing business function that helps an 'enterprise' figure out how to execute best the strategies that drive its development. The MIT Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR) defines enterprise architecture as the specific aspects of a business that are under examination:
- Enterprise architecture is the organizing logic for business processes and IT infrastructure reflecting the integration and standardization requirements of the company's operating model. The operating model is the desired state of business process integration and business process standardization for delivering goods and services to customers.
The United States Government classifies enterprise architecture as an Information Technology function, and defines the term not as the process of examining the enterprise, but rather the documented results of that examination. Specifically, US Code Title 44, Chapter 36, defines it as a 'strategic information base' that defines the mission of an agency and describes the technology and information needed to perform that mission, along with descriptions of how the architecture of the organization should be changed in order to respond to changes in the mission.
The term enterprise is used because it is generally applicable in many circumstances, including
- Public or private sector organizations
- An entire business or corporation
- A part of a larger enterprise (such as a business unit)
- A conglomerate of several organizations, such as a joint venture or partnership
- A multiple outsourced business operation
- Many collaborating public and/or private organizations in multiple countries
The term enterprise includes the whole complex, socio-technical system, including:
- business (e.g. operations)
Defining the boundary or scope of the enterprise to be described is an important first step in creating the enterprise architecture. Enterprise as used in enterprise architecture generally means more than the information systems employed by an organization. A pragmatic enterprise architecture provides a context and a scope. The context encompasses the (people), organizations, systems and technology out of scope that have relationships with the organisation(s), systems and technology in the scope. In practice, the architect is responsible for the articulation of the scope in the context, engineers are responsible for the details of the scope (just as in the building practice). The architect remains responsible for the work of the engineers, and the implementing contractors thereafter.
Developing an Enterprise Level Architectural Description 
Paramount to the enterprise architecture is the identification of the sponsor, his/her mission, vision and strategy and the governance framework to define all roles, responsibilities and relationships involved in the anticipated transition.
Enterprise architects use various methods and tools to capture the structure and dynamics of an enterprise. In doing so, they produce taxonomies, diagrams, documents and models, together called artifacts. These artifacts describe the logical organization of business functions, business capabilities, business processes, people, information resources, business systems, software applications, computing capabilities, information exchange and communications infrastructure within the enterprise. Enterprise Architecture is a powerful tool to ensure Business and IT alignment. A simple technique used is to identify Business requirements in terms of Availability, Scalability, Security, Interoperability, (Low) Cost of Ownership, Extendability and Reliability and then to make sure Applications, Technology and underlying IT Support System is addressing these requirements. This technique is also called ASSIMPLER.
A collection of these artifacts, sufficiently complete to describe the enterprise in useful ways, is considered by EA practitioners an 'enterprise' level architectural description, or enterprise architecture, for short. The UK National Computing Centre EA best practice guidance states
Normally an EA takes the form of a comprehensive set of cohesive models that describe the structure and functions of an enterprise.
- and continues
The individual models in an EA are arranged in a logical manner that provides an ever-increasing level of detail about the enterprise: its objectives and goals; its processes and organization; its systems and data; the technology used and any other relevant spheres of interest.
An enterprise architecture framework bundles tools, techniques, artifact descriptions, process models, reference models and guidance used by architects in the production of enterprise-specific architectural description. Several enterprise architecture frameworks break down the practice of enterprise architecture into a number of practice areas or domains.
In 1992, Steven Spewak described a process for creating an enterprise architecture that is widely used in educational courses.
Using an enterprise architecture 
Describing the architecture of an enterprise aims primarily to improve the effectiveness or efficiency of the business itself. This includes innovations in the structure of an organization, the centralization or federation of business processes, the quality and timeliness of business information, or ensuring that money spent on information technology (IT) can be justified.
One method of using this information to improve the functioning of a business, as described in the TOGAF architectural framework, involves developing an "architectural vision": a description of the business that represents a "target" or "future state" goal. Once this vision is well understood, a set of intermediate steps are created that illustrate the process of changing from the present situation to the target. These intermediate steps are called "transitional architectures" by TOGAF. Similar methods have been described in other enterprise architecture frameworks.
TOGAF is very strong in terms of defining Architecture Development Method, and Zachman is very strong in defining artifacts and Taxonomy.
Benefits of enterprise architecture 
As new technologies arise and are implemented, the benefits of enterprise architecture continue to grow. Enterprise architecture defines what an organization does; who performs individual functions within the organization, and within the market value chain; how the organizational functions are performed; and how information is used and stored. IT costs are reduced and responsiveness with IT systems is improved. However, to be successful, continual development and periodic maintenance of the enterprise architecture is essential. Building an enterprise architecture could take considerable time and proper planning is essential, including phasing the project in slowly, prior to implementation. If the enterprise architecture is not kept up to date, the aforementioned benefits will become useless.
The growing use of enterprise architecture 
Documenting the architecture of enterprises is done within the U.S. Federal Government in the context of the Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) process. The Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) reference models guides federal agencies in the development of their architectures. Companies such as Independence Blue Cross, Intel, Volkswagen AG and InterContinental Hotels Group also use enterprise architecture to improve their business architectures as well as to improve business performance and productivity.
Relationship to other disciplines 
Enterprise architecture is a key component of the information technology governance process in many organizations, which have implemented a formal enterprise architecture process as part of their IT management strategy. While this may imply that enterprise architecture is closely tied to IT, it should be viewed in the broader context of business optimization in that it addresses business architecture, performance management and process architecture as well as more technical subjects. Depending on the organization, enterprise architecture teams may also be responsible for some aspects of performance engineering, IT portfolio management and metadata management. Recently, protagonists like Gartner and Forrester have stressed the important relationship of Enterprise Architecture with emerging holistic design practices such as Design Thinking and User Experience Design. Analyst firm Real Story Group suggested that Enterprise Architecture and the emerging concept of the Digital workplace were "two sides to the same coin."
Published examples 
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It is uncommon for a commercial organization to publish rich detail from their enterprise architecture descriptions. Doing so can provide competitors information on weaknesses and organizational flaws that could hinder the company's market position. However, many government agencies around the world have begun to publish the architectural descriptions that they have developed. Good examples include the US Department of the Interior, US Department of Defense Business Enterprise Architecture, or the 2008 BEAv5.0 version. (See also Treasury Enterprise Architecture Framework.)
Academic qualifications 
Enterprise Architecture was included in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Association for Information Systems (AIS)’s Curriculum for Information Systems as one of the 6 core courses. A new MSc in Enterprise Architecture was introduced at the University of East London  in collaboration with Iasa  to start February 2013. There are several universities that offer enterprise architecture as a fourth year level course or part of a master's syllabus. California State University offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in enterprise architecture, in conjunction with FEAC Institute. National University offers a Master of Science in Engineering Management with specialization in Enterprise Architecture, again in conjunction with FEAC Institute. The Center for Enterprise Architecture  at the Penn State University is one of these institutions that offer EA courses. It is also offered within the Masters program in Computer Science at The University of Chicago. In 2010 researchers at the Meraka Institute, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in South Africa organized a workshop and invited staff from computing departments in South African higher education institutions. The purpose was to investigate the current status of EA offerings in South Africa. A report was compiled and is available for download at the Meraka Institute.
See also 
- Architectural pattern (computer science)
- Enterprise Architect
- Enterprise Architecture Assessment Framework
- Enterprise Architecture framework
- Enterprise Architecture Planning
- Enterprise engineering
- Enterprise Life Cycle
- Enterprise Unified Process
- Global Information Network Architecture
- Information Architecture
- Definition of Enterprise Architecture, Gartner
- Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture Foundation, PEAF Foundation - Vision
- MIT Center for Information Systems Research, Peter Weill, Director, as presented at the Sixth e-Business Conference, Barcelona Spain, 27 March 2007, 
- U.S.C. Title 44, Chap. 36, § 3601
- Giachetti, R.E., Design of Enterprise Systems, Theory, Architecture, and Methods, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2010.
- Jarvis, R, Enterprise Architecture: Understanding the Bigger Picture - A Best Practice Guide for Decision Makers in IT, The UK National Computing Centre, Manchester, UK
- Spewak, Steven H. and Hill, Steven C. , Enterprise Architecture Planning - Developing a Blueprint for Data Applications and Technology,(1992), John Wiley
- The Open Group, TOGAF standard, http://www.opengroup.org/togaf/
- Federal Government agency success stories, (2010), whitehouse.gov
- FEA Practice Guidance Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office OMB, (2007), whitehouse.gov
- "Volkswagen of America: Managing IT Priorities," Harvard Business Review, October 5, 2005, Robert D. Austin, Warren Ritchie, Greggory Garrett
- Clay Richardson, Forrester Blogs - Design Thinking Reshapes EA For Dynamic Business, (2013) 
- Joe McKendrick, ZDNet - Gartner urges more 'design thinking' to break enterprise architecture out of its silo, (2010) 
- Leslie Owens, Forrester Blogs - Who Owns Information Architecture? All Of Us., (2010), blogs.forrester.com
- Tony Byrne, Real Story Group Blog - Digital workplace and enterprise architecture: two sides to same coin, (2012), 
- DoD BEA
- ACM and AIS Curriculum for Information Systems acm.org
- MSc in Enterprise Architecture at the University of East London
- Iasa Global Iasa
- Center for Enterprise Architecture, Penn State University, ea.ist.psu.edu
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- Professional Practice Guide for Enterprise Architects
- Architecting the Future Enterprise - MIT short course
University and college programs 
- University of East London
- Pennsylvania State University
- Carnegie Mellon
- National University
- Kent State University
- Griffith University
- Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
- Temple University, Fox School of Business
- University of Utrecht, Dept of Information and Computing Sciences