Enterprise systems design, implementation, and integration are focal points for business and information technology. Businesses must change processes, environments, and technologies as organizations strive to become more integrated and break down traditional silos of information systems and responsibility. These challenges require a new type of technical professional: one with the training and perspective of an enterprise architect with general technical expertise as well as business strategy and planning skills. Some college and university programs have risen to this challenge in recent years, and the joint ACM/Association for Information Systems Task Force developed the MSIS curriculum model to establish the fundamentals of enterprise information systems in response to the increasing demand for university-trained graduates in an information economy (Gorgone, Gray, & Feinstein, 2000). Recently, the Association for Open Group Enterprise Architects called for industry and academia to work together to craft new enterprise systems curricula that are relevant to today’s global business environment and developed from the perspective of an enterprise architect. Today’s globally competitive environment requires technical professionals to move beyond technical expertise and contribute to the strategy and development of dynamic IT systems that are able to support changing business objectives. To be prepared to meet such expectations, IT students must have broad experience in the design, implementation, and integration of such systems. This education is typically offered in a layered fashion, teaching students about databases, networks, and applications in different courses devoted to single topics (Nickerson, 2006). While this method allows universities to assign faculty with specific expertise to particular courses, it does not adequately prepare students for the work environment of the enterprise architect, where all of these different layers must be combined to support and align with business strategy. Students trained in a specific, narrow layer may fail to anticipate certain trends or requirements, such as a database designer overlooking the need for remote replication (Nickerson). To meet this need, many information technology programs are incorporating enterprise systems curricula for senior students. These courses are often referred to as “capstones” in the curriculum, and must focus on a wide variety of educational goals including understanding the enterprise as a whole, understanding how technology can provide a competitive advantage, learning to design complex integrated systems, learning concepts underlying technical systems integration, learning how to assess the requirements of an integrated system, and learning how enterprise architecture design is practiced as a profession.
Enterprise architecture education is particularly important when trying to meet current business objectives. Several prestigious consulting groups, including IBM and Forrester, have noted a major shift in most technology-centric businesses since 2005 toward service-oriented architectures (SOAs; Boyle & Strong, 2006; Seethamraju, 2007). An SOA is the practice of sequestering the core business functions into independent services that typically do not change frequently. These services can then be combined to create composite applications that can be easily reconfigured to meet the changing needs of the organization. This new paradigm in enterprise systems development and integration highlights the demand for enterprise architects who can understand and align business goals with a technical strategy and architecture capable of supporting current and future needs. SOA does not represent the entire scope of responsibilities of the enterprise architect—it is simply one method of the overall goal of aligning the strategic vision of the business with its information technology infrastructure (Cannon, Klein, Koste, & Magal, 2004; Davis, 2004; Mulder, Lidtke, & Stokes, 1997).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX): Administered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2002, SOX regulates corporate financial records and provides penalties for their abuse. It defines the type of records that must be recorded and for how long. It also deals with falsification of data.
Storage Networking: It is the practice of creating, installing, administering, or using networks whose primary purpose is the transfer of data between computer systems and storage elements and among storage elements.
Enterprise Systems Integration: It is a discipline that combines processes and procedures from systems engineering, systems management, and product development for the purpose of developing large-scale, complex systems that involve hardware and software and may be based on existing or legacy systems coupled with totally new requirements to add significant functionality.
Service-Oriented Architecture: A service-oriented architecture is essentially a collection of services. These services communicate with each other. The communication can involve either simple data passing or it could involve two or more services coordinating some activity. Some means of connecting services to each other is needed.
Enterprise Architecture: Enterprise architecture is a comprehensive framework used to manage and align an organization’s business processes, IT software and hardware, local and wide area networks, people, operations, and projects with the organization’s overall strategy.
Information Technology: IT includes all matters concerned with the furtherance of computer science and technology and with the design, development, installation, and implementation of information systems and applications. An information technology architecture is an integrated framework for acquiring and evolving IT to achieve strategic goals.
Enterprise Architect: An enterprise architect (EA) takes a company’s business strategy and defines an IT systems architecture to support that strategy.