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What is Enterprise Architecture?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 16, 2024
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An enterprise architecture, or EA, is a type of plan for making a total enterprise more efficient by combining relative divisions, departments and processes into the best configurations for success. Although definitions of enterprise architecture can be complex, the underlying idea is to orient all of the parts of an enterprise toward the same goals. Businesses use enterprise architecture in different ways to pursue efficient production, financial gain, coherent strategy, and much more.

A lot of enterprise design and enterprise engineering is focused on information technology systems. Enterprise architecture is often a form of IT governance, or managing all of the software and information technology that helps an enterprise to thrive in the twenty-first century. Because IT service management and related tasks have become so much of what businesses do, it makes sense that an EA plan will often focus on information technology.

One kind of EA plan is a service oriented architecture or SOA that guides how enterprise software communicates with other programs and network pieces. An SOA helps staffers communicate with each other efficiently, gives remote workers assess to client data, helps make production and financial goals visible, and accomplishes many other objectives related to improved transparency and better access to a company’s IT resources. Business managers often pay attention to how an SOA, or other kind of enterprise architecture, can improve business communications.

A large part of EA is often related to multi-faceted software/hardware issues. A good example is a company that provides personal laptops for roving workers. One aspect of EA is getting the laptops to the staff members who need them. A software aspect of this EA is in how to provide secure passwords for these workers in order to make laptop use in the field a viable practice that is safe for the business.

Some managers who are looking at EA objectives might refer to an enterprise life cycle. This kind of model would take into account all of the processes across a business in order to integrate them in the best way possible. Many businesses will utilize consultants or consulting firms to attempt to improve an enterprise architecture so as to meet specific goals. Some planners refer to EA as a kind of “master plan” for a business, in the same way that public planning protocols work for a government office or department, where business officials might “sign off” on an enterprise architecture plan, and evaluate it on a periodic basis. The versatility of an enterprise architecture often provides a better way forward for any sized business or company.

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