An interesting justification for Enterprise Architecture


Justifying Enterprise Architecture

Last post I talked a little about the predominant reasons for governmental entities to engage in enterprise architecture modeling. Before I look at the next industry in the series, banking, I want to examine a particular special case in government that I found quite intriguing – and share it with the wider community.

I was visiting a customer here in DC, one of the agencies. The chief architect there is an experienced EA warhorse, as shown by the fact that he decorates the EA diagrams on his wall with post-it notes listing quotes from people who found his efforts useful. The point being, any time he’s challenged to justify his existence… he just has to pick a quote to point to.

One of these caught my eye. “We depended on your diagrams to understand which systems we could turn off for the shutdown”. Ah!

For those not familiar with the institutional madness that is the US federal budget process, each year the president submits a budget that Congress then rejects. When the budget year starts (September 30th) , large sections of the federal government shut down, as at that point, only ‘essential’ parts of the federal government can still be funded.

Essential in this case means the line items where chaos would reign in the streets if they were shut down. So, the Congressional Gym stays open, but infrastructure projects for the Marine Corps get shut down (OK, I’m still upset at losing that deal, the space station deal was a major rush, supporting the Marines would have been just as cool).

Ahem, I digress. The point is, this particular agency supports Congress directly, but has other activities that are ancillary to the core mission. So, when the shutdown season started last year, it turns out that this agency achieved significant savings just by having mapped applications to servers and to user groups, so they knew which servers they could power down without getting congressmen on their case.

To cut a long story short: mapping user groups to applications to servers allowed this organization to know which stakeholders they could ignore  in a pinch… and which ones were authorized to send troops in to demand restoration of service.