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EDUCAUSE 2017

The annual EDUCAUSE conference attracted 8,000 people to the Philadelphia convention centre, including four of us from the University of Edinburgh.  My colleagues were giving presentations, while my main reason for attending was the pre-conference workshop on Enterprise Architecture and Digital Transformation, which I blogged about last week.

The conference itself offered a smorgasbord of options.  I mainly attended sessions about new technologies, which I blogged about on the Applications Directorate blog, and a few others which consolidated my existing interests.  If these topics weren't to your taste, there were also sessions about research, learning technologies, enterprise systems, leadership development, equality and diversity, and many other aspects of IT in higher education.

The exhibit hall gave opportunities to talk to many vendors, from the large established corporations to the newcomers in "startup alley". I chatted to several CRM vendors, and looked at other…

A brief summary of our major initiatives

I notice that in 2016 I wrote 34 posts on this blog.  This is only my fifth post in 2017 and we're already three-quarters of the way through the year.  Either I've suddenly got lazier, or else I've had less time to spend writing here.  As I'm not inclined to think of myself as especially lazy, I'm plumping for the latter explanation.

There really is a lot going on.  The University has several major initiatives under way, many of which need input from the Enterprise Architecture section.

The Service Excellence programme is overhauling (the buzzword is "transforming") our administrative processes for HR, Finance, and Student Administration.  Linked to this is a programme to procure an integrated ERP system to replace the adminstrative IT systems. 

Enabling Digital Transformation is a programme to put the middleware and architecture in place so that we can make our processes "digital first".  We're implementing an API framework, a notification…

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…

EA at the University of Lincoln

Last week, Allister Homes from the University of Lincoln gave a presentation to the UCISA EA group about how Lincoln have set up their Enterprise Architecture practice and where they are now in using Enterprise Architecture. The presentation is online and you can see it here:

Enterprise Architecture at Lincoln

Do take a look. 

I found Allister's talk both interesting and reassuring.  Lincoln's EA practice is 12-18 months older than ours, and as a result it is a bit more embedded into university culture and processes than us, as one might expect. But we're on a similar path and not too far behind.  EA seems to be delivering good results at Lincoln, which bodes well for us.

Both practices are based in our IT departments and are reaching out to the business areas.  We are working with similar principles (because we both used the same set of TOGAF principles as our starting point).  Lincoln have an established design authority which reviews all projects; we have put in place p…

EDUCAUSE article on Enterprise Architecture

This is a useful introduction to the role of Enterprise Architecture in Universities:

Manage Today's IT Complexities with an Enterprise Architecture Practice

EDUCAUSE is the North American organisation for IT in Higher Education, filling roughly the same role as UCISA in the UK.  For the UK, I would add the UCISA EA Community of Practice to the "knowledge base", rather than the North American ITANA group.

The section in the article about formulating an EA practice strategy is highly relevant.  We started with a completely bottom-up approach and it quickly transpired that we didn't have the time or resources to produce the results we wanted.  Now we are sort of half-way between the two: we have top-down support within Information Services Group, and are reaching out in a bottom-up way to the rest of the University.

It's an interesting article and not too long. Take a look!

Data Governance and Open Data

Many people in the University support the idea of making resources open for anyone to use, and some trailblazers have set up the Open Knowledge Network to help support this notion.  One aspect of this is open data and with the Edinburgh Cityscope project developing nicely, it would be timely to put support for open data on a firmer basis.  In this post, I consider some implications and prerequisites for publishing University data.

Suppose someone wanted to make some data available as open data.  What would they need to consider?

Well, first of all, who owns the data, and who is responsible for it?  If it is the University’s data, whose permission do they need?  To answer this, we have agreed policy to assign data stewards to the University’s main enterprise data sets.  These data stewards will be responsible for making data available to people who need it, and ensuring that restricted data (such as personal information) is protected.  So they will be the people to give or d…