Why Enterprise Architecture?
The goal of a statewide Enterprise Architecture for information technology is to enhance coordination, simplify integration, build a consistent infrastructure, and generally allow greater efficiencies in the development of technology solutions. The intent of the Enterprise Architecture program is to realize these goals while ensuring effective use of state resources, thereby enabling consistent, effective delivery of services to the employees, citizens, and businesses of Kentucky.
The Enterprise Architecture defines the roles, business models, policies, standards, technologies and decision-making criteria for the acquisition and deployment of IT. In the Commonwealth, the architectural process includes governance, business processes and a technology blueprint. As a key component of the architecture, the Enterprise Standards are important for defining the rules by which technology is managed, acquired and configured.
Enterprise Architecture Framework
The Enterprise Architecture is a business discipline driven by the needs of state government and is founded on principles, best practices, trends, as well as Technology Architecture Processes. This framework and the methodology was first described in the initial version of the architecture adopted in 1997. Technology Architecture is one of the four major pieces of the Enterprise Architecture framework:
- Architecture Governance
- Technology Architecture Framework
- Business Architecture Framework
- Enterprise IT Policies
The IT community recognizes that to meet the business needs of the various state government agencies and effectively serve the citizens of the state, the infrastructure must allow access to information across department boundaries. A consistent framework is necessary to ensure that investments in infrastructure, data and applications are made with this operating principle in mind. Enterprise Architecture covers the broad spectrum of technology environments to include software, hardware, networks, applications, data, security, access, communications, project management and other relevant architecture disciplines. These technology areas are described in domains, and each domain contains enterprise policies and standards to support the vision. Several enterprise policies are directly related to architecture domains. Currently, the architecture is described in ten domains, which include over eighty (80) enterprise standards. The following lists domains for which enterprise standards have been defined or will be defined in the future:
- Hardware Platforms, e.g. desktop computers, servers, printers
- Software, e.g. operating systems, office suite, database management systems
- Network Services, e.g. network protocols, network hardware components, network services
- Data and Information, e.g. common data elements, data definitions, naming conventions, geographic information system (GIS) data standards
- Applications Development, e.g. develop methods and tools
- Middleware and integration services
- Security Services, e.g. virus scanning, firewall services, secure transport
- Access and Communications, e.g. Internet, telephony, voicemail, interactive voice response (IVR)
- Systems Management
- Project Management
As developed in the Commonwealth, the enterprise architecture provides a clear strategy for procurement and migration.
Architecture Governance: Authority and Administration
Under state statute (KRS 11.511) the Commonwealth Chief Information Officer (CIO) is given the authority to recommend and implement information technology governance organizations. The Enterprise Architecture and Standards Committee is established under this authority. Pursuant to KRS 11.507, the Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT) has authority for “developing, implementing, and managing strategic information technology directions, standards, and enterprise architecture, including implementing necessary management processes to assure full compliance with those directions, standards, and architecture.” A governance process is established and policies for the administration of the process are developed and approved as necessary. The Enterprise Architecture is governed by the Enterprise Architecture and Standards (EAS) Committee, chaired by the CIO. The EAS Committee is composed of multiple agency representatives, and is supported in its work by several domain technical work groups that present recommendations to the Committee for consideration. The Chief Information Officer has final approval authority for all actions, modifications and exceptions.
EAS Committee support, architecture business activities, documentation and research is administered and supported by the Division of IT Governance, Commonwealth Office of Technology.
Architecture Process: Establishing Enterprise Standards
The Commonwealth has adopted a set of enterprise standards that provides some level of flexibility while at the same time ensuring compatibility across the enterprise. Standards may indicate an architectural direction, a particular vendor or even a specific product from that vendor. The Commonwealth may adopt a specific product standard based on performance in the marketplace and a technical evaluation of the product in a state government setting. In other cases the standard may be more generic such as compliance with an international, national or industry standard. As a guiding principle and where feasible, the Commonwealth will strive to define the most appropriate set of existing technology component standards and minimize the diversity of technology products deployed in the Commonwealth. Although a single product standard may be established if feasible and necessary to achieve the stated benefits and rationale. The Commonwealth will select a single product to minimize total cost of ownership and to optimize:
- economies of scale in purchasing
The rationale for establishing an enterprise technology standard and a justification has been included in each instance to support the decision of selecting a single product for the stated standard category. Where an enterprise solution is required, the Commonwealth is moving toward this goal and it will take a period of time to achieve the stated direction. Advancing the architecture through enterprise standards is part of the maturity model. It may be more difficult to promote in specific domains since some standards are still evolving in the marketplace. A single product is chosen is some categories, for reasons that include reuse, support and leveraged procurement opportunities. Creating and adopting uniform technology standards and achieving agency compliance supports several of the guiding principles of the Strategic Information Technology Plan and the principles in the Commonwealth Enterprise Architecture.
The governance of the enterprise architecture is both a discipline and formal business process. Architectural standards will require an on-going commitment by the state. The evolution of new products, technology trends, business trends and user demands will require a constant update to architectural standards to ensure that data and service remain accessible. Compliance with architectural standards will evolve over a long period of time. As a basic operating principle, there is no tolerance in the Commonwealth to purchase and deploy solutions or technology products outside the adopted and published enterprise standards. If products are purchased outside the standards, there will be no support or training available from the Commonwealth Office of Technology. In addition, unless a business case exception has been granted, products which are not standard may not be used within the enterprise environment. For example, a desktop computer purchased that does not meet the minimum configuration standard or from non-approved manufacturer will not be connected to the network for access to enterprise resources.
As the process matures, some of the benefits that are expected from an Enterprise Architecture are:
- Reduced software and data redundancy
- Enhanced enterprise information sharing
- Reduced information systems complexity
- Better alignment of business strategy and system development
- Reduced procurement costs through leveraged buying
- Greater reliability at implementations & updates
- Reduced dependency on key resources
- Improved accuracy in scheduling software development / implementation
- More accurate forecasting of development and support costs
- More efficient deployment of technology solutions
- Greater ability to set realistic goals
Alignment of adopted standards and information technology products on state contracts is an important consideration in sending a consistent message. One of the areas that agencies must monitor closely is the purchase of information technology products outside the purview of the Office of Material and Procurement Services, Finance and Administration Cabinet. Through business process improvement efforts, more flexibility and responsibility is available to employees to purchase products without going through the regulated purchasing process; therefore the assurance of standard(s) adherence is not guaranteed. Agency Information Technology Officers (ITOs) are accountable and must assume responsibility to follow the Enterprise Standards during the procurement process and this should be reinforced throughout the agency. Absent a pre-audit process by the Commonwealth Office of Technology, it is expected that agencies will comply without an onerous review and enforcement process.
Measuring progress is an important element of the Enterprise Architecture and Standards governance process. The Enterprise Architecture must be adaptive and accountable. The performance of the architecture is a critical success factor of its business value. Consequently, compliance is a key part of managing the deployment of information technology and evolution of the architecture. To advance the understanding and the discipline of enterprise architecture, compliance is an accepted element of the process. Although it may be difficult to measure in some cases, compliance with standards demonstrates the effectiveness of the enterprise architecture process. As the architecture matures, the principles, practices and domains that compose the architecture must be measured for agency understanding and compliance. The enterprise architecture concept is partially based on motivation to gain compliance early and continue to advance the concept through communication, training and consistent linkages to state information technology contracts.
As part of the governance and administrative process, compliance with the enterprise standards is generally measured through agency self-assessments and ongoing reviews by the Commonwealth Office of Technology, Division of Enterprise Project Management. In 1998, a baseline of key technology standards was gathered through a formal survey of executive branch agencies. The purpose was to measure initial progress with the Enterprise Architecture and migration toward an enterprise standards-based organization. The information reported in the survey was tied to key steps in achieving the stated Enterprise Architecture direction. The intent of the survey, called the Gap Analysis, was to document the gap between the current situation (“as is”) and the architectural vision (“to be”), and not as a precision measurement tool. The gap data also provided information to assist in enterprise-wide impact assessments, national survey response and budget development.
Based on the performance metrics gathered in subsequent surveys, including the 1999 and 2003 hardware platform Gap Analysis, it is evident agencies have made significant progress in complying with adopted Enterprise Standards. In many key technology categories assessed, the adoption was very high and compliance exceeded ninety percent on an enterprise basis.
Targeted assessments of architectural domains and standards by the Commonwealth Office of Technology will continue as a regular element of the maturity process. Enterprise self-assessments are now completed using a web survey tool to gather data, most recently with the IT security assessment and operating system surveys completed in 2003. This approach is more cost effective and will be used with more frequency in the future. Architecture metrics will be used to drive continuous process improvement. As new enterprise standards and versions of approved products (that are identified within standard categories) are introduced, the enterprise standard will be updated to reflect the new versions through due process. There will be both business and technical reasons to modify an enterprise standard, but the architectural principles will only be altered by the governance body.