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Agile Enterprise Architects

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An agile enterprise architect is anyone who is actively involved in the creation, evolution, and support/communication of your enterprise vision. This vision is often captured in various artifacts, such as:

  1. Enterprise models or roadmaps.These models describe a wide variety of views, one of which may be data oriented, although network/hardware views, business process views, usage views, and organizational structure views (to name a few) are equally as valuable.
  2. Enterprise guidance. This includes standards and guidelines.
  3. Education and training materials.

The Responsibilities of Agile Enterprise Architects

The responsibilities of this role potentially includes, but is not limited to, the responsibilities associated with the traditional roles of enterprise data architects, enterprise process architects, enterprise network architects, and so on. The role of enterprise architect has a greater scope than just that of data - they instead look at the entire enterprise picture. Enterprise architects main job is to look into the future, to attempt to identify a direction in which the organization is going and hence determine how its infrastructure needs to evolve. Enterprise architects are naturally constrained by the current situation your organization finds itself in, its environment, and its capability to evolve.

Enterprise architects focus on a wide variety of architectural issues, data being one of many. Their main goal is to develop and then support enterprise architectural models. It isn't sufficient for an enterprise architect to produce good models, they must evangelize those models, work with development teams, and educate senior management in the implications of the architecture of in system-related issues in general. In addition to the CIO and CTO of your organization your enterprise architects are likely to have the most visibility with senior management, therefore they need to be prepared to aid senior management to make strategic decisions.

Enterprise architects work with Agile data engineers and with application developers. The most important thing that enterprise architects can do is to "walk the talk" and roll up their sleeves and get actively involved with the team. This will earn the respect of the developers, dramatically increasing the chance that they'll actually understand and follow the vision of the enterprise architecture. The advantage of this approach is that it provides immediate and concrete feedback as to whether the architecture actually works and provides valuable insights for how the architecture needs to evolve.

Enterprise architects are prepared to work in an iterative and incremental manner. They are ill-advised to try to create an all-encompassing set of enterprise models at first. Instead, envision an initial, high-level architecture and then work closely with one or more development teams to make sure it works. Agile Modeling includes a practice called Model in Small Increments which is based on the idea that the longer you model without receiving concrete feedback, such at that provided by an actual development team, the greater the chance that your model doesn't reflect the real-world needs of your organization. Agile enterprise architects avoid ivory-tower architectures this way.

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