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Enterprise architecture (EA) is a business function concerned with the structures and behaviors of a business, especially business roles and processes that create and use business data. By international consensus, Enterprise Architecture has been defined as "a well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a comprehensive approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise architecture applies architecture principles and practices to guide organizations through the business, information, process, and technology changes necessary to execute their strategies. These practices utilize the various aspects of an enterprise to identify, motivate, and achieve these changes."[1]


As practitioners of enterprise architecture, enterprise architects support an organization’s strategic vision by acting to align people, process and technology decisions with actionable goals and objectives that result in quantifiable improvements toward achieving that vision. The practice of enterprise architecture:

analyzes areas of common activity within or between organizations, where information and other resources are exchanged to guide future states from an integrated viewpoint of strategy, business, and technology.[2]

Enterprise architecture (EA) is a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes. EA delivers value by presenting business and IT leaders with signature-ready recommendations for adjusting policies and projects to achieve target business outcomes that capitalize on relevant business disruptions. EA is used to steer decision making toward the evolution of the future state architecture.[3]

It helps business and IT managers to figure out the best strategies to support and enable business development and business change – in relation to the business information systems that the business depends on.


The terms enterprise and architecture

The term enterprise can be defined as describing an organizational unit, organization, or collection of organizations that share a set of common goals and collaborate to provide specific products or services to customers.[4]

In that sense, the term enterprise covers various types of organizations, regardless of their size, ownership model, operational model, or geographical distribution. It includes those organizations' complete socio-technical systems,[5] including people, information, processes, and technologies.

The term architecture refers to fundamental concepts or properties of a system in its environment, embodied in its elements, relationships, and in the principles of its design and evolution.[6]

Understood as a socio-technical system, the term enterprise defines the scope of the enterprise architecture.


Perspectives, or beliefs, held by enterprise architecture practitioners and scholars, with regards to the meaning of the enterprise architecture, typically gravitate towards one or a hybrid of three schools of thought:[7]

  1. Enterprise IT design – the purpose of EA is the greater alignment between IT and business concerns. The main purpose of enterprise architecture is to guide the process of planning and designing the IT/IS capabilities of an enterprise in order to meet desired organizational objectives. Typically, architecture proposals and decisions are limited to the IT/IS aspects of the enterprise; other aspects only serve as inputs.
  2. Enterprise integrating – According to this school of thought, the purpose of EA is to achieve greater coherency between the various concerns of an enterprise (HR, IT, Operations, etc.) including the linking between strategy formulation and execution. Typically, architecture proposals and decisions encompass all the aspects of the enterprise.
  3. Enterprise ecosystem adaptation – the purpose of EA is to foster and maintain the learning capabilities of enterprises so that they may be sustainable. Consequently, a great deal of emphasis is put on improving the capabilities of the enterprise to improve itself, to innovate and to coevolve with its environment. Typically, proposals and decisions encompass both the enterprise and its environment.

One’s belief with regards to the meaning of enterprise architecture will impact how one sees its purpose, its scope, the means of achieving it, the skills needed to conduct it, and the locus of responsibility for conducting it[7]

Architectural description of an enterprise

See also: Architecture domain

According to the standard ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010,[6] the product used to describe the architecture of a system is called an architectural description. In practice, an architectural description contains a variety of lists, tables, and diagrams. These are models known as views. In the case of enterprise architecture, these models describe the logical business functions or capabilities, business processes, human roles and actors, the physical organization structure, data flows and data stores, business applications and platform applications, hardware, and communications infrastructure.[8]

The UK National Computing Centre EA best practice guidance[9] states:

Normally an EA takes the form of a comprehensive set of cohesive models that describe the structure and functions of an enterprise. The individual models in an EA are arranged in a logical manner that provides an ever-increasing level of detail about the enterprise.

Paramount to changing the enterprise architecture is the identification of a sponsor. His/her mission, vision, and strategy, and the governance framework define all roles, responsibilities, and relationships involved in the anticipated transformation. Changes considered by enterprise architects typically include:

A methodology for developing and using architecture to guide the transformation of a business from a baseline state to a target state, sometimes through several transition states, is usually known as an enterprise architecture framework. A framework provides a structured collection of processes, techniques, artifact descriptions, reference models, and guidance for the production and use of an enterprise-specific architecture description.


The benefits of enterprise architecture are achieved through its direct and indirect contributions to organizational goals. It has been found that the most notable benefits of enterprise architecture can be observed in the following areas:[10]


Documenting the architecture of enterprises is done within the U.S. Federal Government[22] in the context of the Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) process.

The Federal Enterprise Architecture (FEA) reference model guides federal agencies in the development of their architectures.[23]

Companies such as Independence Blue Cross, Intel, Volkswagen AG[24] and InterContinental Hotels Group use enterprise architecture to improve their business architectures as well as to improve business performance and productivity.

For various understandable reasons, commercial organizations rarely publish substantial enterprise architecture descriptions. However, government agencies have begun to publish architectural descriptions they have developed. Examples include:


Establishing enterprise architecture, as accepted, recognized, functionally integrated and fully involved concept at operational and tactical levels is identified as one of the biggest challenges facing Enterprise Architects today and one of the main reasons why many EA-Initiatives fail.[26]


Despite the benefits that enterprise architecture claims to provide, for more than a decade, writers and organizations raised concerns about enterprise architecture as an effective practice. Here is a partial list of those objections:

A key concern about EA has been the difficulty in arriving at metrics of success, because of the broad-brush and often opaque nature of EA projects.[32]

Relationship to other disciplines

According to the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations (FEAPO), enterprise architecture interacts with a wide array of other disciplines commonly found in business settings. According to FEAPO:

An Enterprise Architecture practice collaborates with many interconnected disciplines, including performance engineering and management, process engineering and management, IT and enterprise portfolio management, governance and compliance, IT strategic planning, risk analysis, information management, metadata management, and a wide variety of technical disciplines as well as organizational disciplines such as organizational development, transformation, innovation, and learning. Increasingly, many practitioners have stressed the important relationship of Enterprise Architecture with emerging holistic design practices such as design thinking, systems thinking, and user experience design.[33]

As enterprise architecture has emerged in various organizations, the broad reach has resulted in this business role being included in the information technology governance processes of many organizations. 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.

Discussions of the intersection of enterprise architecture and various IT practices have been published by various IT analysis firms. Gartner and Forrester have stressed the important relationship of enterprise architecture with emerging holistic design practices such as Design Thinking and User Experience Design.[34][35][36] Analyst firm Real Story Group suggested that enterprise architecture and the emerging concept of the digital workplace were "two sides to the same coin."[37] The Cutter Consortium describes enterprise architecture as an information and knowledge-based discipline.[38]

The enterprise architecture of an organization is too complex and extensive to document in its entirety, so knowledge management techniques provide a way to explore and analyze these hidden, tacit, or implicit areas. In return, enterprise architecture provides a way of documenting the components of an organization and their interaction, in a systemic and holistic way that complements knowledge management.[39]

In various venues,[40] enterprise architecture has been discussed as having a relationship with Service Oriented Architecture, a particular style of application integration. Research points to enterprise architecture promoting the use of SOA as an enterprise-wide integration pattern.[41][42]


This section is written like a personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay that states a Wikipedia editor's personal feelings or presents an original argument about a topic. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. (November 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

The first publication to use the exact term enterprise architecture was a National Institute of Standards Special Publication[43] on the challenges of information system integration. The overview states "This panel addressed the role of architectures and standards in support of management throughout an enterprise."

This original use is often incorrectly attributed to John Zachman's 1987 paper,[44] which did not use the term "Enterprise Architecture". The scope of the report by the NIST "enterprise architecture" panel may be directly compared to Zachman's current thinking presented in the 1987 article which is as follows: "With increasing size and complexity of the Implementations of Information systems it Is necessary to use some logical construct (or architecture) for defining and controlling the interfaces and the Integration of all of the components of the system. The discussion is limited to architecture and does not include a strategic planning methodology."

In the 1989 NIST article, enterprise architecture is described as consisting of several levels. The top-level is "Business Unit Architecture". The document describes this as follows: "A Business Unit may portray either a total corporate entity or a corporate sub-unit. Architecture at this level establishes a framework for satisfying both internal information needs and the information and data needs to be imposed by external organizations. These external organizations include cooperating organizations, customers, and federal agencies. The information and data needs at this level impose requirements to be satisfied at lower levels of the architecture, with increasing attention to technical considerations."

The 1989 NIST document continues: "The representation of the Business Unit architecture shows organizational units and their relationships, as well as specific standards, policies, and procedures that enable or constrain the accomplishment of the overall enterprise mission."

By examination, the evidence shows that Zachman's concept was the creation of an individual information system, perhaps composed of subsystems, optimized for a business case. However, the NIST conception describes the management of all the information systems in a business unit which may be the whole enterprise.

Zachman did not use the exact term "enterprise architecture" in a publication until several years later.

See also


  1. ^ ""Common Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture"" (PDF). Retrieved September 29, 2022.," Architecture and Governance Magazine, Issue 9-4, November 2013 (2013). Retrieved on September 29, 2022.
  2. ^ "Planning an EA – Purpose". Enterprise Architecture Book of Knowledge. Mitre Corporation. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
  3. ^ "Enterprise Architecture (EA)". Gartner IT Glossary. Gartner. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  4. ^ Business Analysis Body of Knowledge, from the International Institute of Business Analysis
  5. ^ Giachetti, R.E., Design of Enterprise Systems, Theory, Architecture, and Methods, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2010.
  6. ^ a b "ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010:2011 - Systems and software engineering - Architecture description". November 24, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Lapalme, J., Three Schools of Thought on Enterprise Architecture, IT Professional, vol. 14, no. 6, pp. 37–43, Nov.–Dec. 2012, doi:10.1109/MITP.2011.109
  8. ^ Kotusev, Svyatoslav; Kurnia, Sherah (September 1, 2021). "The theoretical basis of enterprise architecture: A critical review and taxonomy of relevant theories". Journal of Information Technology. 36 (3): 275–315. doi:10.1177/0268396220977873. ISSN 0268-3962.
  9. ^ Jarvis, Bob (2003) Enterprise Architecture: Understanding the Bigger Picture – A Best Practice Guide for Decision Makers in IT, The UK National Computing Centre, Manchester, UK. p. 9
  10. ^ The Contribution of Enterprise Architecture to the Achievement of Organizational Goals: Establishing the Enterprise Architecture Benefits Framework, Technical Report, Department of Information and Computing Sciences Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands, (2010 online)
  11. ^ Bert Arnold, Martin Op 't Land and Jan Dietz. "Effects of an architectural approach to the implementation of shared service centers," in Second International Workshop on Enterprise, Applications and Services in the Finance Industry (FinanceCom05), Regensburg, Germany, 2005.
  12. ^ a b c d T. Bucher, R. Fischer, S. Kurpjuweit and R. Winter, "Enterprise architecture analysis and application: An exploratory study," in EDOC Workshop TEAR, Hong Kong, 2006.
  13. ^ a b Nilsson, "Management of technochange in an interorganizational E-government project," in Proceedings of the 41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2008, pp. 209.
  14. ^ a b c J. Varnus and N. Panaich. TOGAF 9 enterprise architecture survey results. Presented at 23rd Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference. [Online]. Available:
  15. ^ a b c d e f Jeanne W. Ross and Peter Weill, "Understanding the Benefits of Enterprise Architecture," CISR Research Briefings, 2005.
  16. ^ Quartel, Dick; Steen, Maarten W.A.; Lankhorst, Marc M. (May 1, 2012). "Application and project portfolio valuation using enterprise architecture and business requirements modelling". Enterprise Information Systems. 6 (2): 189–213. doi:10.1080/17517575.2011.625571. ISSN 1751-7575.
  17. ^ W. Engelsman, M. E. Iacob and H. M. Franken, "Architecture-driven requirements engineering," in Proceedings of the 2009 ACM Symposium on Applied Computing(SAC '09), Honolulu, Hawaii, 2009, pp. 285-286.
  18. ^ a b L. Kappelman, T. McGinnis, A. Pettite and A. Sidorova, "Enterprise architecture: Charting the territory for academic research," in AMCIS 2008, 2008.
  19. ^ M. Pulkkinen, A. Naumenko and K. Luostarinen, "Managing information security in a business network of machinery maintenance services business - Enterprise architecture as a coordination tool," J. Syst. Softw., vol. 80, pp. 1607-1620, 2007.
  20. ^ T. Obitz and M. K. Babu. (2009). Enterprise architecture expands its role in strategic business transformation: Infosys enterprise architecture survey 2008/2009. (online[permanent dead link]).
  21. ^ Federal Government agency success stories, (2010), Archived April 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ FEA Practice Guidance Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office OMB, (2007), Archived October 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Volkswagen of America: Managing IT Priorities," Harvard Business Review, October 5, 2005, Robert D. Austin, Warren Ritchie, Greggory Garrett
  24. ^ DoD BEA
  25. ^ Dedic, N. (2020). "FEAMI: A Methodology to include and to integrate Enterprise Architecture Processes into Existing Organizational Processes" in IEEE Engineering Management Review. Volume 48, Issue 4. DOI:
  26. ^ EA Failed Big Way! by Ivar Jacobson. on Archived December 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine October 18, 2007.
  27. ^ Gartner (2007) Gartner Enterprise Architecture Summit: Architecting the Agile Organization, 26 – 27 September 2007. Overview on Accessed November 18, 2013.
  28. ^ S. Roeleven, Sven and J. Broer (2010). "Why Two Thirds of Enterprise Architecture Projects Fail," ARIS Expert Paper (online)
  29. ^ Fixing Enterprise Architecture: Balancing the Forces of Change in the Modern Organization Dion Hinchcliffe, September 3, 2009
  30. ^ "Why Doesn't the FEA Work"
  31. ^ Measuring Enterprise Architecture Effectiveness: A Focus on Key Performance Indicators, Gunther, W 2014
  32. ^ Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organizations, "Common Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture Archived December 20, 2016, at the Wayback Machine," Architecture and Governance Magazine, Issue 9-4, November 2013 (2013). Retrieved on November 19, 2013.
  33. ^ Clay Richardson, Forrester Blogs – Design Thinking Reshapes EA For Dynamic Business, (2013) [1] Archived April 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Joe McKendrick, ZDNet – Gartner urges more 'design thinking' to break enterprise architecture out of its silo, (2010) [2]
  35. ^ Leslie Owens, Forrester Blogs – Who Owns Information Architecture? All Of Us., (2010), Archived February 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Tony Byrne, Real Story Group Blog – Digital workplace and enterprise architecture: two sides to same coin, (2012), [3]
  37. ^ Evernden, Roger. "Dealing with Too Much Data from an Architectural Perspective", November 13, 2012 (online)
  38. ^ Evernden, Elaine, Evernden, Roger. Information First - Integrating Knowledge and Information Architecture for Business Advantage, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2003 (online)
  39. ^ "SOA and Enterprise Architecture". The Open Group. Archived from the original on January 10, 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  40. ^ Christopher Kistasamy, Alta van der Merwe, Andre de la Harpe, (2012), The role of service-oriented architecture as an enabler for Enterprise Architecture, AMCIS 2012, Seattle Washington
  41. ^ Rosa and Sampaio. "SOA Governance Through Enterprise Architecture". Oracle. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  42. ^ Fong, E. N.; Goldfine, E.H. (December 1989). "Information management directions: the integration challenge" (PDF). SIGMOD Record. 18 (4): 40–43. doi:10.1145/74120.74125. S2CID 23939840.
  43. ^ Zachman, John A. (1999). "A framework for information systems architecture". IBM Systems Journal (reprint ed.). 38 (2/3): 454–470. doi:10.1147/sj.382.0454.