Skip to content.
Personal tools
You are here: Home » Features » How to do Enterprise Architecture; a report from a session at the JISC Conference 2009.

How to do Enterprise Architecture; a report from a session at the JISC Conference 2009.

Christina Smart
Last modified 26 Mar, 2009
Published 26 Mar, 2009
There was plenty of practical advice on offer at the Paradox of the agile institution: Enterprise Architectures as a strategic enabler of change session at the annual JISC conference this week [1]. The session heard from a number of speakers from institutions now using enterprise architecture (EA) and service oriented approaches (SOA) in practice.

Bill Olivier, Innovation Director for Systems and Technology at JISC was chair of the session, and he began by considering one of the paradoxes of creating an agile institution, and asking "how can efficiency cost savings be made while at the same time increasing system flexibility ?" In funding the Enterprise Architecture Pilot programme [2], Bill explained, the JISC had recognised that in order to adopt a service oriented approach institutions needed to be able to take a holistic view of their core business, technology, and data.

In terms of sheer scale, it was hard to be unimpressed by John Callery’s presentation on developing an Enterprise Architecture for the Department for Children Schools and Families. John, the chief Enterprise Architect at the DCSF, said applying The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) had allowed the department for the first time to get a clear picture of how the various services worked together in terms of processes, data models, applications and technology. This understanding had also had enabled them to create a new information strategy. John concluded that a key challenge still remained to ensure that the exercise was not perceived as purely technical.

Chris Cobb, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Roehampton University, introduced the experiences of the JISC EA pilots – summarised in the publication launched in the session [3]. An acknowledged sceptic about EA at the start of the project Chris said he had experienced a “eureka” moment when he realised that the process of “architecting” was more important than the end result. In undertaking any institutional change staff often joke, “I wouldn’t start from here”. But the problem is that often organisations don’t know where “here” is, he said. Chris summarised the experiences of the other projects at Liverpool John Moore’s University, Cardiff University and King’s College. Although their projects were quite different in approach and scope, working as part of a community had enabled institutions to support each other and to share experiences of using tools like BizzDesigner [4]. The projects had found Archimate [5] a particularly useful modelling language, he said. Chris concluded that part of the problem in getting widespread up take of an Enterprise Architecture initiative might be the term itself and suggested that “Change management” might be better.

Those who doubt that the Enterprise Architecture approach can enable institutions to be more agile might have been persuaded by Bert Van Zomeren’s presentation about the federated learning environment being developed for the three technical universities in the Netherlands. Bert, Information Manager (CIO) at the Technical University of Delft said that together the Technical Universities of Delft, Eindhoven and Twente are developing a joint Enterprise Architecture for 9000 staff, 28,000 students to be ready by 2011. Outlining the architecture Bert explained that Eindhoven had used it to integrate its legacy systems in just a year. Some of the lessons they had learned included:

  • That Archimate is useful,
  • That using soa increases the life-time of legacy systems,
  • But that performance might be an issue.

Where next?

The success of the EA pilot programme has meant that the Open Group and JISC will continue to support institutions to adopt EA. David Rose from the Open Group announced their intention to support and to grow the network of institutions using EAs in HE. They hoped that new participants in the group will learn from the early adopters, he said.

At the conclusion of the session Bill Olivier also announced the forthcoming Flexible Service Delivery programme, a £2 million JOS programme to further explore shared services, which will work closely with suppliers. Also launched was the online publication “Technology Change in Further and Higher Education – a service oriented approach” we have been working on at JISC CETIS. An online resource to help institutions considering moving in a service oriented direction [6].

Without a doubt, as these early adopter institutions continue to blaze the Enterprise Architecture and SOA trail the rest of us in the sector will continue to benefit from the problems they encounter and the solutions they find.

The presentations from the session are available on the conference web site [7].


[1] The Paradox of the agile institution: Enterprise Architectures as a strategic enabler of change Session

[2] JISC Enterprise Architecture Pilot study

[3] Doing Enterprise Architecture: Enabling the agile institution. JISC Technology and Standards Watch, Early Adopter Study

[4] BizzDesigner tool

[5] Archimate

[6] Technology Change in Further and Higher Education:a service oriented approach JISC CETIS

[7] The presentations from the session


Supported by JISC Supported by CETIS
Powered by Plone