Following on from Role titles across the world, I wanted to present a diagram that I've had in my head for a little while but never got around to putting on paper. I think architecture at the application and system level is pretty well defined, with an easily identifiable progression path from the former to the latter. Enterprise architecture, on the other hand, is different and I was always under the impression that this was the next logical step for somebody performing a system architecture role. I've recently changed my mind on this and my new view of the world is as follows.
I now see enterprise architecture as a mix of technology and business consulting that is performed at quite a high level of abstraction, across organisations or organisational units. Previously, I hadn't really made the connection that the business and process side of enterprise erchitecture was as important (perhaps more so?) than the technology side. As usual, Wikipedia has a nice entry on Enterprise Architecture if you want to read more about this as a discipline.
So is enterprise architecture the next logical step for somebody doing a system architecture role? Possibly, but it depends on what you want to do. When you include the business consulting aspects in the enterprise architecture mix, you start to see that the skillset required for enterprise architecture differs from both the individual streams that feed it. While I'm unsure whether enterprise architecture is more business consulting or more technical architecture, I *am* sure that it might not be the logical progression for technical architects who (like myself at the moment) want to remain technical. Less of a direct upwards career progression and more of an upwards and over movement with which you might have to give up coding. This, of course, raises an interesting question of what *is* next for System Architects that want to remain technical. What are your thoughts?
Simon is an independent consultant specializing in software architecture, and the author of Software Architecture for Developers (a developer-friendly guide to software architecture, technical leadership and the balance with agility). He’s also the creator of the C4 software architecture model and the founder of Structurizr, which is a collection of open source and commercial tooling to help software teams visualise, document and explore their software architecture.