A guide on how to perform Enterprise Architecture in cloud-based environments
Enterprise Architecture (EA) functions to assist enterprises in building structural foundations to match proposed business strategies. It captures the vision of an enterprise by integrating its dimensions to contextualize transformation strategies, organizational structures, business capabilities, data pools, IT applications, and all technology objects. Every business unit of an enterprise is subject to change, and each change may have significant consequences throughout organizational domains.
An enterprise that wants to adopt the cloud across all the business units must have a mature and well-formed understanding of its Enterprise Architecture and a clear view of components therein.
Cloud Computing is a paradigm to decentralize data centers, by virtualizing both infrastructure and platform, and enable services using the internet. It gives access to platforms, services, and tools from browsers deployed across millions of terminals. As well, it reduces the management and maintenance of all the resources associated to technology and infrastructure while providing dynamism, independence, portability, usability, and scalability of platform tools.
Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft Azure, Salesforce, and IBM are market leaders of cloud services.
The aim of this article is to provide an EA framework for cloud adoption. It covers the fundamental steps and stages involved in cloud adoption by an enterprise across business units.
Future Predictions on Cloud
Leading analysts have made the following predictions on the future adoption of cloud in enterprises:
- IT spending on cloud services will comprise 60% of all IT infrastructure and 60-70% of all software, services and technology spending by 2020 (IDC)
- Subscription-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will grow at an 18% CAGR by 2020 (Bain & Company)
- Investments in Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) will rise from 32% in 2016 to 56% in 2019, making it the fastest-growing sector of cloud platforms (KPMG)
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) market is to reach $72.4 billion worldwide by 2020 (Gartner)
- 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020, and 41% of enterprise workloads will run on public cloud platforms whereas another 22% will be running on hybrid cloud platforms (LogicMonitor)
- “In 2020, a No-Cloud policy will be as rare as a No-Internet policy today” (Gartner)
A transitioning to cloud by enterprises demands the adoption of next generation technologies like Microservices, API, Analytics, IoT and greater security protocols—all of which evidenced across industries as being of paramount importance. In addition, enterprises are increasingly turning to the cloud to lower costs and maximize profits as cloud options are typically easier and cheaper to install than on-premise alternatives.
Of note, here are common go-to-cloud prioritization strategies from across industries…
- Communications (Telecom services providing point-to-point contact): Converged billing, Multi-party settlement, OSS, BSS, Financials, HR, Procurement
- Governmental (Federal, state and local government agencies, nonprofit): Public Safety Software, Grants and performance management, Computer Assisted Dispatch, Jail Management, Courts Management, Tax Collections, Records Management, Financials, HR, Procurement
- Healthcare (Healthcare providers, hospitals, physicians, clinics, hospices): Electronic Health Record, Practice Management, Revenue Cycle Management, Financials, HR, Procurement
- Oil and Gas (Fuel extraction, petroleum refining, primary derivatives from oil, chemicals and allied products): Oil and Gas Operations Management, Reserves Management, Capital Planning and Budgeting, Well Production Software, Financials, HR, Procurement
- Utilities (Electricity, water and gas utilities): Customer Care, Billing, Smart Meter infrastructure, Energy Trading Risk Management, SCADA, Financials, HR, Procurement
Next Generation Enterprise Trends and Cloud Adoption
Top business trends as a result of cloud adoption include:
- Expanding ecosystems of applications to stimulate market responsiveness
- Shifting business models to become integrators of best-of-breed services
- New regulatory requirements gained by a collaborative global economy and resulting from the need to address open markets
- Leveraging digital proliferation to deliver more intelligent, predictive customer experience
- Transformation and optimization across different process stacks: Sales, Front-office, Middle office and Back office
Top technology trends as a result of cloud adoption include:
- Data center rationalizing (hybrid options to replace data centers)
- Movements of IT development and testing to cloud
- Maximizing productivity with scalability and high availability. Top-tier functions are increasingly moving to private cloud and secondary ones to public cloud
- Emergence of cloud service brokerages—a shift to hybrid models
- Elevating traditional services by offering new digitized products like cloud-based storage for customer files.
- Fusing IaaS with PaaS
Enterprise Architecture Framework for Cloud Adoption
Enterprise Architecture, as a discipline focused on connecting an enterprise’s current reality to one desired in the future, can contribute to enterprises when it comes to managing cloud-based systems. A primary benefit related to EA and cloud includes seeing how and where newer, highly disparate cloud systems might fit with legacy versions.
A well-run EA program can streamline cloud transformations using best practices developed from IT strategy, business policy, organizational planning, and stakeholder decision-making. However, in order to integrate EA with the cloud computing services of an enterprise, a framework needs to be established whereby EAs manage all stages of an enterprise’s cloud adoption.
The following is an EA framework for migrating to and adopting cloud services:
Image 1: Enterprise Architecture Framework for Cloud Adoption
This is the first step in cloud adoption. At this stage, the tasks typically involve collecting all artifacts and related information about an enterprise’s current “as-is” state and all formal procedures for the daily operations of existing EA. One should use this stage to analyze the needs, requirements, and trends in each of the business units of an organization while validating the potential weaknesses, strengths, opportunities, and threats in the adoption of a cloud.
It is necessary to develop an understanding of this stage of the business’s overall strategy and its organization goals.
Further, the Cloud Strategy stage is a time to outline all information about the expected goals of target architecture, the identities of relevant stakeholders, the complexity of architectural visions, and the various approvals required when initiating change.
Cloud Adoption Planning
Use this stage to understand the as-is architecture and existing EA across the organization. Doing so involves defining business models according to operational roles and activities, and the gathering of operational costs. It is a time to align requirements and motivations for cloud migration with EA models.
Cloud Adoption Planning is about envisioning the opportunities available for when cloud computing is actually implemented, describing these possible benefits in clear detail, and then evaluating it all to the concerns of relevant stakeholders and the capabilities of potential vendors. Following this awareness, an appropriate cloud environment for applications—as based on cost efficiency and performance—can be chosen.
Cloud Business Case
An EA can broaden a business case for cloud adoption by providing an understanding of overarching capabilities needed to support the implementation and ongoing maintenance of the new platform. Such methods might include delineating the business case and ROI inputs to estimate the required budget, assessing the ease-of-adoption in technical terms, and then selecting the cloud provider.
The following activities should occur in this stage:
- Identifying all viable business alternatives associated to any proposed cloud technology in order to hold a holistic overview of upcoming opportunities
- Identifying and structuring all benefits to a business for cloud transformation as based on explicitly detailed degrees of impact
- Calculating the budget required and the ROI expected during EA changes
- Estimating migration timeframes
- Analysis of the present risks and an ongoing approach for identifying and mitigating future risks
Target Architecture & Cloud Enabler
The use of new cloud services to augment target Business Architecture, Information System Architecture, and Technology Architecture is detailed at this stage. Spanning also Information Architecture (physical and logical data models), Application Architecture (functional components, interrelationship between systems), and Technology Architecture (hardware, software and communication infrastructure), this stage should be when all information is identified on target architecture that can be used to accommodate cloud transitions and help detail business requirements. Define also during this stage the impact of architectural changes on business models.
Cloud Transition Planning
Cloud Transition Planning is when all technical gaps between target and baseline EA must be recognized and then logically described. It is an analysis for identifying the shortfalls between actual and potential performance, and then using this analysis to create a change management plan.
The creation of a detailed plan for the actual implementation and migration from existing to the target architecture occurs during this phase.
Cloud Transition Planning typically consists of the following activities:
- Laying out a migration plan strategy that lists the required processes, tools, and business chargeback models for
- migrating existing business applications to the cloud,
- placement decisions for new applications.
- Assessing all enterprise applications to determine where business function “bundle” descriptions fall into, and the relationships between applications and bundles. Such information will then be used to recommend a suitable market-based cloud product of relevant business value.
Given that cloud providers make such implementation arrangements, it is wise to review the many desired requirements of target architecture to obtain from vendors a worthwhile service lifecycle arrangement (SLA), a properly configured network setup, and a clear understanding of how it can be integrated to operate with other clouds.
Cloud Implementation Planning & Governance
At this stage, final confirmation is received on the scope and priorities of cloud migrations and deployment. SLAs are established, as are policies and security standards, and the allocation of authority and responsibility is distributed. Cloud Implementation Planning and Governance covers the strategy-to-execution phases of a cloud adoption strategy.
Identification of all deployment resources and skills is required during this stage. EA compliance reviews are performed here, and the implementation of business and IT operations plus post-implementation reviews occur.
Other activities performed during this stage include:
- Evaluating business level policies
- Understanding differences in service and deployment models
- Identifying critical performance objectives
- Evaluating security and privacy requirements
- Identifying service management requirements
- Preparing for service failure management
- Understanding recovery plans
- Establishing effective management processes
- Creating the exit process
Any and all results from these many monitoring activities must be documented and shared in a post-implementation review to offer input for further improvements in future projects.
Cloud technology is playing a major role in the transformation of modern enterprises. Though it is not a complete solution to the problems of on-premise solutions, transferring certain enterprise applications and processes to the cloud can certainly minimize many of the organizational hurdles once simplified only with good EA management.
Furthermore, as cloud technology matures, the core ways in which business operate will continue to change. It is thus necessary for EA to mitigate the speeds of disruption at a level carefully aligned to an enterprise’s capacity for change.
EA enables organizations to undergo digital transformation to implement new cloud systems with considerably fewer complications, and an EA Framework for Cloud Adoption like the one presented is an approach that can easily be followed to reduce development times, improve scalability, expand storage capacities, improve the reliability of services, and fortify security.
To repeat, cloud computing can assist enterprises in:
- Moving to an agile operating model and removing supposedly “indispensable” technology
- Attracting top digital talent from across industries and providing them a toolbox of the best technologies available
- Transforming architecture to scale capabilities and enable dynamic API-based interactions
- Bringing cloud-native capabilities to applications and upgrading them to deliver real-time metrics and actionable data
- Creating digital capabilities for accelerating revenue by using an agile and opex model of cloud
It all goes to show that no matter what tools enterprise choose to use, the core problem is not always with the technology. It is in defining the relationships between different components—from Business to IT.
And that is where EA comes in.
The author would like to thank Hari Kishan Burle, Raju Alluri of GEA Practice of Wipro Technologies for providing support in many ways in including the article as part of GEA Practice efforts.
Dr. Gopala Krishna Behara is a Senior Enterprise Architect in the GEA Practice division of Wipro. He has a total of 22 years of IT experience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are that of authors and Wipro does not subscribe to the substance, veracity or truthfulness of the said opinion.