Linking Business and Application Architectures

Linking Business and Application Architectures

Suresh Kamath (MetLife Inc., USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2199-2.ch011


The development of an IT strategy and ensuring that it is the best possible one for business is a key problem many organizations face. This problem is that of linking business architecture to IT architecture in general and application architecture specifically. Without this linkage it is difficult to manage the changes needed by the business and maximize the benefits from the information technology (IT) investments. Linking the two domains requires defining the two architectures using a “common language.” While the application architecture domain has developed tools and processes to define and represent the architecture, the business architecture domain, however, lacks such processes and tools to be useful for linking of the two. The chapter addresses several questions dealing with the linking of the business and the application architectures. The author proposes to use category theory related constructs and notions to represent the business and information architecture and the linkages.
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We first review the business architecture arena, followed by the application architecture. Next we look at what has been the progress when we try to link the business and application architectures. Our focus in this review is mainly on the processes and methodology to represent the business or application architecture. We follow the TOGAF definitions (OpenGroup, 2009) to describe what we mean by the terms business and application architecture. Business architecture describes the functional aspects of the business domain. It defines the business strategy, governance, organization, and key business processes. Application architecture represents individual application systems, their interactions and relationships to the core business processes (defined in the Business Architecture) and reflects the business goals of the organization.

While the business architecture has been recognized as a key element in the overall enterprise architecture, there have been no clear cut definitions and how to represent business architecture. Reviewing the literature on business architecture we see that capability is the key word that identifies with a specific element used in defining/specifying the architecture. TOGAF defines business capability as a synonym for a macro-level business function. In deriving the business architecture a business capability assessment is used to define what capabilities an organization will need to fulfill its business goals and business drivers. TOGAF however, does not prescribe any specific set of enterprise architecture deliverables and hence there is no prescription on how to represent the business capability or how to link the business architecture with application architecture, except that the former is an input to the later.

Forrester Research, (Cameron, 2007; Scott, 2010), analyzes capability maps and provides some insights into how these maps help address improving business and IT alignment. The specifics of how this tool can be used for the linkage with IT is further discussed in (Scott, 2010b) and Cullen, 2010). The capability map is defined as a model of the firm associating the business capabilities, processes, and functions required for business success with the IT resource that enables them. Business is characterized by the capabilities required for that business to accomplish its objectives. By identifying the IT resource with the capability in the definition, a path to linking the business architecture with application architecture also gets defined. The development of a capability map and its content varies with the type of industry (e.g. manufacturing, finance) and the maturity of the organization in using business architecture - consulting groups, government agencies, and private corporations.

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