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EA Community of Practice

Today, I attended a meeting of the UCISA EA Community of Practice, at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).  The focus of today's meeting was on data architecture, and I contributed with a talk about our data warehouse plans at the University of Edinburgh.

The first presentation of the day was from the University of Birmingham, who are using data architecture techniques to support the upgrade of their Finance and HR systems to a new ERP system.  This was a good example of the benefits that enterprise architecture can contribute to service transformation projects.

Next was a talk about the HEDIIP Data Capability Toolkit for the HE sector.  This sets out the case  that we can make data a tangible asset, capable of adding value to our universities.  The programme is effectively taking an EA approach, mapping the as-is state and defining the target to attain, all mapped to a data strategy.  From the talk, it sounds like the toolkit has some elements which will be very helpful and I will take a look to see which ones I can use in my own work.

My talk seemed to go well and I got some useful feedback from the questions.  That is one of the benefits of giving a presentation to a group that includes several experienced architects; it's a cheap way of getting consultancy!

The final presentation of the day was from the team at the host University (MMU), who are preparing to replace the interfaces from their student record system.  They are planning to use Azure API Management to present all their APIs, which looks to be a useful system (if your data is on Azure, that is).  It provides a browsable catalogue for users, a request process that lets owners approve or deny requests, and management information about which systems are using which APIs.  It basically fulfills all the functions of a traditional Enterprise Service Bus.

UCISA, for those readers who don't know, is the organisation for supporting & representing University & College IT departments.  The EA Community of Practice, as the name suggests, is formed of enterprise architects (and data architects, business analysts, solution architects) from approximately 80 universities.  In addition to the data architecture sessions, we spent some time reflecting on how to better support each other and build our community.  Several ideas surfaced and I hope to see them taken forward.  One idea was for local meetups and I'd be open to organising some meetups in Scotland.


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