Providing Deep Business Value: A Supply Chain Case Study

Enterprise Architecture (EA), born in the private sector under fractured proprietary process methodologies, has matured into a serious discipline thanks to the funding strengths of the Federal Government and the dedication of many practitioners. Application of this systems engineering discipline has come about under the shadow of a federally-induced mandate, but with mixed results. The United States Office of Management and Budget’s primary focus on Information Technology (IT) has results in an inappropriate association of EA as an “IT thing” and has caused EA to lose credibility among business leadership. The author argues that EA can be about more than IT and more than a necessary evil. It can actually provide deep business value and provide a structure for breaking down and managing complex problem. From personal experience in applying EA to a private sector e-commerce solution for supply chain management, the author presents elements of an e-business approach that others can leverage to help craft an operational EA that generates more than expensive shelf-ware. EA can become crucial in day-to-day operations and can be used within executive ranks to drive business decisions.

Interfaces for Enterprise Solutions

This article compares current and future interface concepts and the dramatic cost implications of interfaces. With the increased importance of exchanging information between enterprise solutions, a coordinated interface architecture should be considered. An interface architecture for the extended enterprise requires a shared communication language, one that standards greatly facilitate. While traditional interface approaches, such as point-to-point and hub and spoke, have been widely deployed in the past, they are costly to maintain and do not provide loose-coupling and fast return-on-investment. Web services and the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) are promising interface technologies that provide access to loosely-coupled services using commercial standards and existing infrastructure to support a service oriented architecture. Numerous cost drivers, such as the interface architecture and functional, technical, and organizational characteristics significantly impact the cost of an interface. An understanding of interface technology and cost drivers will ensure system architects are better equipped to design and deploy cost-effective interface architecture.