Skip to main content

Enterprise Architecture at York

Friday last week was a bit different from the usual, as I went down to York to sit on an interview panel.  York are recruiting a full-time Enterprise Architect (similar to the post that Nikki Rogers holds at Bristol) with responsibility for shaping the whole contribution of IT to the university's business and my role was to provide an external point of view.  I was very interested to learn more about their plans and to compare the architecture situation at York with our own experience.

Each of the candidates had to start their day with a ten-minute presentation about how they would persuade senior managers of the benefits of enterprise architecture.  These presentations were interesting in themselves and I may borrow one or two of the ideas put forward. 

Obviously I can't say much about the interviews themselves, but I will say that this is hard role to fill. The ideal candidate would have a breadth of IT experience, ability to engage confidently with senior managers, excellent analysis skills and corresponding good presentation skills.  The successful candidate would need to lead the architecture work themselves, rather than have a team of architects.  So this is quite ambitious.  On the other hand, it would be an excellent opportunity to prove oneself and I think York are right to create a dedicated role.  I look forward to catching up with their progress.

P.S. The evening train back from York provided more entertainment than usual.  The carriage next to mine was full of rambunctious rugby fans on their way to the Calcutta Cup match on Saturday.  They even had a set of bagpipes with which they serenaded each station.  That's the first time I've heard bagpipes on a train.  I doubt the Scottish fans were quite so happy during the match itself, which was dreadful.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Presentation: Putting IT all together

This is a presentation I gave to an audience of University staff: 

In this seminar, I invite you to consider what the University’s online services would be like, if we worked together to design them from the perspective of the student or member of staff who will use them, instead of designing them around the organisational units that provide them. I’ll start with how the services might appear to that student or member of staff, then work back from there to show what this implies for how we work, how we manage our data, and how we integrate our IT systems. It might even lead to changes in our organisational structure.

Our online services make a vital and valued contribution to the work of our students and staff. I argue that with better integration, more consistent user interfaces, and shared data, this contribution could be significantly enhanced.

This practice is called “Enterprise Architecture”. I’ll describe how it consults multiple organisational units and defines a framework …

Not so simple...

A common approach to explaining the benefits of Enterprise Architecture is to draw two diagrams: one that shows a complicated mess of interconnections, and one that shows a nicely layered set of blocks. Something like this one, which came from some consultants:


I've never felt entirely happy with this approach.  Yes, we do want to remove as much of the needless complexity and ad-hoc design that litters the existing architecture.  Yes, we do want to simplify the architecture and make it more consistent and intelligible.  But the simplicity of the block diagram shown here is unobtainable in the vast majority of real enterprises.  We have a mixture of in-house development and different third-party systems, some hosted in-house, some on cloud infrastructure and some accessed as software-as-a-service.  For all the talk of standards, vendors use different authentication systems, different integration systems, and different user interfaces.

So the simple block diagram is, basically, a l…

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…