Shifting Sands: New Enterprise Architecture

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The technology winds are blowing rapidly and like the shifting sands; the architecture of entire enterprises is being rewritten. In an attempt to explain these changes, I have created the diagram below :

IMage_Shifting_Sands

To understand this picture let’s start from the bottom: The Enterprise Infrastructure Layer. While this layer continues to change with recent trends, an increasing number of enterprises are looking to the Cloud as part of their core infrastructure. This layer also comprises of the heavy weight applications such as MIS, CRM and the other host of business enablers that an enterprise needs in order to function.

The next layer on top of this is the Data Analytics Layer, a layer that has become mandatory for all enterprises. Enterprises can no longer afford to neglect the data that exists in their applications and in turn should be classified into three layers: My Data, Our Data and World Data. Analytics encompasses all three layers. The heavy data pipe in the lower layer functions as storage for hefty applications This layer also exposes an API for other layers to consume relevant data.

That brings us to the Collaboration Layer at top of the stack. Functioning as the consumption layer for users, this is where the new App Stores are being built. These applications are typically light weight and highly efficient. This layer also contains Master Data Management (MDM) and orchestration entities. Notice the lighter data pipe between the Collaboration layer and the API layer below.

That leaves us with the two other important components the External Data Sources on the right side and the Panoptic Modules on the left. These represent the data sources outside the enterprise (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). These data sources may be accessed by any of the layers depending on the data and its purpose. The Panoptic Modules encompass Security, Identity Mapping and other similar modules.

Moving to this architecture has become imperative for enterprises because of market forces. This architecture includes four key technology components: Collaboration, Big Data/Analytics, Mobility, and Cloud Computing. It is a challenging time for enterprises as they need to make critical decisions regarding the architectural path they are going to take with their infrastructure. For example, how does one map an Identity inside the enterprise with one outside, for example a Facebook ID or Google ID? What role does the firewall play in this new world or do we need firewalls at the Application layer?

While these are challenging times, the good news is that this change is for the better. I believe that these changes will make the enterprise more agile. Within the new architecture it will be easier for an enterprise to build a new report, add a new app and quickly integrate with other data sources. Responding to new market situations will entail a faster turnaround time and this is the core of Enterprise Agility.

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