Enterprise Architecture



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What Is Enterprise Architecture?

One way to describe Enterprise Architecture (EA) is “an organizational model; an abstract representation of an Enterprise that aligns strategy, operations and technology to create a roadmap for success”. [1]

By developing current and future versions of this kind of holistic view of an enterprise, you can manage the transition from current to future operating states. [2]

Note that the term Enterprise refers to an organization or sub-activity whose boundary is defined by commonly held goals, processes, and resources. [2] In other words, this Insight does not apply only to big organizations.

EA Domains

EA is often divided into four main domains. [3, 4] This hierarchy of enterprise architecture layers is represented in the figure above, on the left side.

In addition, these architecture domains can be further divided into sub domain disciplines. [5] Below you can see the four main domains, their purpose and dependencies, and examples of subdomains.

Enterprise Business Architecture


  • Identifies how an enterprise creates value for customers and other stakeholders.


  • Establishes requirements for the other domains.

Examples of subdomains

  • Business Requirements
  • Business Rules
  • Organization Structure
  • Critical Success Factors
  • Business Process Design & Modelling
  • Mission/Vision

Enterprise Data Architecture


  • Describes how data should be organized and managed.


  • Manages data created and required by business architecture.

Examples of subdomains

  • Data Integration
  • Data Architecture
  • Master Data Management
  • Metadata Management
  • Data Delivery Architecture
  • Dashboards & Analytics
  • Business Intelligence
  • Enterprise Reporting
  • Corporate Performance Management
  • Data Modelling
  • Data Quality
  • Content Management

Note the difference between data architecture and information architecture.

One way to describe the difference is that data architecture defines the collection, storage and movement of data across an organization while information architecture interprets the individual data points into meaningful, useable information. [6]

See also how enterprise data architecture and data management are related.

Enterprise Application Architecture


  • Describes the structure and functionality of applications in an enterprise.


  • Acts on specified data according to business requirements.

Examples of subdomains

  • Enterprise Application Integration Components
  • Custom Application Development
  • Services Definition
  • Process Alignment
  • Services/Event Architectures

Enterprise Technology Architecture


  • Describes the physical technology needed to enable systems to function and deliver value.


  • Hosts and executes the application architecture.

Examples of subdomains

  • Servers
  • Networks
  • Telecom
  • Operating Systems
  • Desktop
  • Middleware
  • Database Infrastructure
  • Security
  • Storage
  • Other hardware

Enterprise Architecture Planning

Steven H. Spewak, one of the earlier professional practitioners in the field of system architecture, has defined Enterprise architecture planning (EAP) as “the process of defining architectures for the use of information in support of the business and the plan for implementing those architectures”. [7, 8]

This hierarchy of activity is represented on the right side in the figure above. The layers are implemented in order, from top to bottom. This approach counters the more traditional view that applications should be defined before data needs are determined or provided for. [7]

Below you can find more information on the four levels of EA planning. It is crucial that the high-level management commits to support and resource the components (or steps) of the process. [8]

Getting Started

  • Planning initiation. Covers decisions on which methodology to use, who should be involved, what other support is required, and what toolset will be used. The result will be the EAP workplan.

Where You Are Today

  • As-is analysis. The assembly of a knowledge base about the as-is business, data, applications, and technology architecture.

The Vision of Where You Want to Be

  • Business architecture. Definition of the to-be business architecture – for example vision, requirements, organization structure and business processes.
  • Data architecture. Definition of the major kinds of data needed to support the business.
  • Applications architecture. Definition of the major kinds of applications needed to manage that data and support the business functions.
  • Technology architecture. Definition of the technology platforms needed to support the applications that manage the data and support the business functions.

How You Plan to Get There

  • Implementation / migration plans. Definition of the sequence for implementing applications, a schedule for implementation, a cost/benefit analysis, and a clear path for migration.

Move up to


  1. Enterprise Architecture Body of Knowledge, https://eabok.org/. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  2. Bernard, Scott A. (2012). An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture: Third Edition. AuthorHouse.
  3. Niles E Hewlett (2006). The USDA Enterprise Architecture Program. Archived 2007-05-08 at the Wayback Machine. PMP CEA, Enterprise Architecture Team, USDA-OCIO. January 25, 2006.
  4. DAMA International (2017). DAMA-DMBOK: Data Management Body of Knowledge: 2nd Edition Second Edition. Technics Publications.
  5. Wikipedia. Enterprise architecture framework. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  6. Lebenthal, Alon / BMC (2018). Data Architecture vs Information Architecture: What’s The Difference? Retrieved 29 July 2021.
  7. FAA (1998). Federal Information Architecture Initiatives. Federal Aviation Administration, February 1998.
  8. The Chief Information Officers Council (1999). Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework Version 1.1. Archived 2012-02-13 at the Wayback Machine September 1999.