What is Enterprise Architecture?


Enterprise Architecture (EA) involves creating a structured representation of an organization's IT assets to align IT capabilities with business strategy, manage digital transformation, and facilitate rapid adaptation to external changes. The benefits include easier identification of necessary changes, alignment of business and IT realms, and alleviating constraints within the enterprise structure. Enterprise architecture is divided into four domains: Business, Data, Application, and Technology.


What is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise Architecture (EA) involves a systematic and rigorous approach to delineating an enterprise's structure. When effectively managed, enterprise architecture leads to sustainable and efficient organizations that meet current business objectives while providing a framework for future changes and strategic developments.

EA can be conceptualized in three dimensions: as a discipline, a process, and a set of work products. The development and maintenance of enterprise architecture are multifaceted processes involving diverse stakeholders and decision-making processes.

Building upon the multifaceted process involving diverse stakeholders and decision-making processes within the development and maintenance of enterprise architecture, TOGAF® (The Open Group Architecture Framework) stands out as a widely used framework for developing enterprise architecture. It provides a comprehensive approach for designing, planning, implementing, and governing enterprise information technology architecture. TOGAF helps organizations create a standardized architecture development process and ensures their systems align with overall business objectives. This framework is designed to be adaptable and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of organizations across different industries.

Enterprise Architecture Wiki Page - TOGAF framework graphic

Understanding EA is a complex endeavor, as it is a multifaceted concept with varying applications across different organizational contexts. In the forthcoming article, we will delve into EA's diverse applications, the impetus for its adoption by organizations, the nuances of an "EA framework," and the process of developing enterprise architecture tailored to organizations' specific needs.


What is Enterprise Architecture used for?

Enterprise architecture encompasses a wide range of potential uses, but fundamentally, it involves creating an abstract representation of a business's IT assets, similar to how a real architect provides a blueprint for a building. However, enterprise architecture is an ongoing process that must evolve alongside the business, reflecting and helping to plan for changes.

This representation allows an enterprise to align its IT capabilities with its business strategy, bridging the gap between strategy and IT. The ultimate objective is managing digital transformation. Over time, the scope of enterprise architecture has expanded to include all business assets, such as IT systems, technologies, and applications, as well as business processes, strategies, and capabilities.

It's important to note that "enterprise" in enterprise architecture does not necessarily mean a large business; it can also apply to governmental organizations, NGOs, specific business units, or even individual projects within a firm. While broader scopes of enterprise architecture can bring more benefits, smaller projects are still valuable.


The Benefits of Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a diverse field with numerous potential applications. The benefits of EA greatly depend on how an organization implements its EA practice. One of the primary purposes of EA is to facilitate digital transformation by creating short- and long-term roadmaps, assessing the impacts of changes, collecting stakeholder perspectives, and implementing changes. In general, EA can make organizations more adaptable and capable of responding rapidly to external events and disruptions. Digital transformation is critical for achieving business success and gaining a competitive edge.

EA offers a comprehensive overview of an organization's current structure, making it easier to comprehend where changes are needed and their potential impacts. Architects can present various options for modifying or enhancing operations in response to the continually evolving business landscape. Discrepancies between the business and IT realms can often impede change, but EA helps align these areas for successful digitalization.

Moreover, EA enables organizations to pinpoint constraints and restrictions imposed by their enterprise structure, which can be alleviated to facilitate smoother transformation efforts.


The four domains of Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise architecture encompasses a wide range of potential use cases, which can be complex for those unfamiliar with the topic. One approach to breaking down enterprise architecture is to use the "BDAT" stack, which consists of four main domains: Business, Data, Application, and Technology. The BDAT model is utilized in the TOGAF framework.


Enterprise Architecture Pillar


Business architecture focuses on an organization's capabilities, structures, and systems, whereas data architecture involves rules, policies, and models governing data usage. Application architecture describes the structure and interaction of business software, while technology architecture ensures that technical systems support business requirements. These domains form a pyramid, with technology as the foundation, supporting applications and data, enabling business capabilities and strategic execution.

While the BDAT model is valid, it's important to note that modern enterprise architecture frameworks may feature more complex models and additional domains. Despite this, BDAT remains a crucial aspect of the widely recognized TOGAF 10 framework and continues to be valued by architects.


Enterprise Architecture Methodologies

Enterprise architecture is a complex process that involves multiple stakeholders and decision-making processes. Many organizations use frameworks developed by third parties to help implement their enterprise architecture practices. A standard framework enables organizations to build a consistent enterprise architecture that reflects stakeholder needs, incorporates best practices, and considers current requirements.

There are four main enterprise architecture frameworks in use today:

  1. The Open Group Enterprise Architecture Framework (TOGAF)
  2. Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA)
  3. The Zachman Framework
  4. The Gartner Methodology

TOGAF is the most popular framework, developed by The Open Group since 1995. It categorizes architecture into four domains: Business, Application, Data, and Technology Architecture. The TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM) is widely used as an architectural process to move from the enterprise-generic to the enterprise-specific architecture and solutions. The latest version of TOGAF is 9.2, released in 2018.

Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA), designed for government enterprises, has been used by the US federal government. The Zachman Framework, created by John Zachman for IBM, introduced the concept of enterprise architecture and is still maintained today. The Gartner Methodology, developed by Gartner, does not define architectural artifacts or provide a reference model, and it is available to Gartner customers or implemented by its consultants.


Enterprise Architecture Tools

Enterprise architecture (EA) and digital transformation efforts often require specialized software to address their complexity and diverse goals. While Microsoft Visio and Excel can handle some EA issues, purpose-built EA software, also known as Enterprise Architecture Management Software (EAMS), is typically utilized to create and maintain EA frameworks. Examples of enterprise architecture platforms in the market include OrbusInfinity and Orbus iServer.

EA tools offer various features and benefits, including a central repository for data storage, which promotes collaboration by enabling access and contribution to enterprise data from across the organization. These tools also support adherence to standards and frameworks such as TOGAF or ArchiMate notation and may extend to other disciplines, such as the COBIT 2019 governance framework and the NIST CSF security framework.

Moreover, enterprise architecture programs often provide specialized features for different subdomains of EA, such as business architecture dashboards and security architecture visualizations. Analysis is another essential feature, allowing architects to derive insights, make informed decisions, and present findings to stakeholders using the available data. For a more detailed exploration of EA tools and the available options, refer to our article on EA Tools, Software, and Platforms.


The 5 EA Maturity Levels

The enterprise architecture (EA) concept may already be familiar to many within your organization. However, it's essential to understand that you need more than having an EA framework in place to ensure you fully leverage its potential to drive digital transformation. EA is still a relatively new discipline for many organizations, with some having recently initiated their practices.

Evaluating the effectiveness of your EA practice goes beyond aligning it with business strategies and stakeholder objectives; it also involves assessing its ability to deliver results. This is where the maturity level of your EA practice comes into play.

Here are the stages of EA maturity:

  1. Emergent: Your enterprise architecture program is in its early stages, with an undefined and non-functional framework. Establishing a clear mission statement, principles, and measurable objectives is vital at this stage.
  2. Developing: Your enterprise architecture program is progressing, but the practice must be operational. Development may not be balanced across all required domains.
  3. Functional: Your enterprise architecture program is moderately mature, offering some business value but requiring further development.
  4. Performing: Your enterprise architecture program is functioning, but there are still areas for improvement. Measuring success with clear performance indicators is a common challenge at this stage.
  5. Optimized: This represents the highest level of EA maturity, characterized by continuous review and improvement to ensure that your EA aligns with rapidly changing business environments and digital transformation goals.


How do you create an Enterprise Architecture?

Establishing a robust enterprise architecture practice involves more than just implementing a modern EA platform. It requires skilled architects to utilize the frameworks, models, and tools effectively. Building a competent team is essential for success and is applicable across various domains, not just enterprise architecture.

Once the team is in place, the real challenge begins. Enterprise architecture development needs more consensus on the best approach, making the process complex. TOGAF's preeminence in the EA framework is attributed to its Architecture Development Method (ADM), which equips enterprises with the necessary tools to create architecture. The ADM enables architects to adopt best practices when developing various types of architecture.

With leveraging TOGAF's ADM, creating an enterprise architecture becomes more manageable. While other frameworks provide structure, the multitude of decisions involved can be overwhelming. The most straightforward solutions are to hire experienced personnel or adopt TOGAF's ADM. Attempting to build an architecture from scratch may be a misguided academic exercise. Alternatively, seeking assistance from third-party advisors, such as consultancy services offered by Orbus Software, can be beneficial.



In conclusion, Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a vital framework for aligning IT capabilities with business strategies, facilitating digital transformation, and ensuring the sustainability and efficiency of organizations. The utilization of frameworks such as TOGAF and the understanding of the BDAT stack highlight the significance of EA in contemporary organizational practices. By identifying constraints and harmonizing business and IT realms, EA empowers organizations to adapt, innovate, and respond swiftly to changes, ultimately supporting long-term strategic objectives.