DevOps is Coming To Enterprise Architecture!

DevOps is Coming To Enterprise Architecture!

DevOps is Coming! In character as Paul Revere. Photo by WSTA

Last month I presented the keynote at an afternoon seminar on Enterprise Architecture held by the Wall St. Technology Association (WSTA). I also moderated a panel session on the topic.

Other presenters and panelists included folks from AT&T, JP Morgan, Xebia Labs, Myriad Supply, UBS, Kublr, Electric Cloud, and Nutanix.

Enterprise Architecture Then and Now

Although we took different perspectives, speakers had one common theme: the impact of DevOps on Enterprise Architecture (EA).

EA is a mature discipline, dating back at least 30 years. But it’s also a little schizophrenic: It’s partially a business concept (mapping all the processes and systems in an organization). But it’s also partially a technical concept (mapping all the systems and connections instantiating those processes). As a result, practitioners often have difficulty giving a precise, comprehensive definition of the discipline.

EA is also pretty dated. Many firms have reduced or eliminated the emphasis on EA in recent years, for a host of reasons. Some don’t see the value in the “ivory tower” enterprise architects, who seem too disconnected from the business. Others feel that the very concept of an overarching architecture is obsolete in this world of agile development, scrums, and sprints.

Those firms are  both right and wrong. Enterprise architecture can be worse than useless, if it results in a stack of PowerPoint decks that nobody uses. And the DevOps and agile methodologies change the very foundations of Enterprise architecture. But the answer isn’t to destroy EA entirely. Instead, the trick lies in making EA relevant for today’s enterprises.

In making that point, I highlighted two key concepts.

DevOps Meets EA

First is that DevcIOps changes everything. It’s not just an incremental tweak.

As Anders Wallberg, CTO of Electric Cloud puts it, “DevOps blows up the very foundations of enterprise architecture!”

I took his message to heart, which explains the photo at the top of this post.  For the panel session, I dressed as Paul Revere and entered the room shouting “DevOps is coming! Alert! Alert!”

(Hey, it was late afternoon on a late-summer day…  I had to do something to liven things up!)

A lively and thought-provoking discussion followed, focused on how enterprises need to rethink EA for the DevOps era.

Our takeaways? To be effective, EA has to be blended into a DevOps methodology. Instead of being the province of architects alone, it must get regular input from other teams, particularly engineering, operations, and business. Moreover, instead of laboring for years to create the ultimate architecture, architects should be prepared to deliver interim architectures in a matter of weeks. And rather than being a lifeless stack of PowerPoint slides, EA should be deployable and testable.

The second point: DevOps or no, EA has to change.

Next-Generation Infrastructure Drives Next-Generation EA

Specifically, it now needs to account for geography.  No longer do applications reside on on-premise data centers, connected to branch offices by a private network. Next-generation infrastructure is cloud-based and mobile. It increasingly extends to remote devices and IoT networks. That means that effective enterprise architecture needs to span the range of locations where applications might reside.

Every component, from applications to data to computing resources, needs to address the question of “where”. Where’s the optimal location for that function to reside, and under what circumstances will it migrate elsewhere? As a result, next-generation enterprise architecture needs to look something like the chart below. Architects should be prepared to answer the question “where does this live and why?”. And they should plan to extend security and management to encompass the entire next-generation computing, endpoint, and networking infrastructure.

The bottom line: Next-generation EA isn’t your father’s EA. It’s DevOp-i-fied, agile, and extended across the next-generation infrastructure. EA is dead! Long live EA!