The practice of Enterprise Architecture (EA) considers the inter relationships of business and technology at the highest level, seeking to align the technology portfolio with business drivers in an efficient and flexible manner.
The focus of EA is on enabling the business to meet its business objectives and is thus concerned with issues that span the boundaries of constituent organisations and business units. It considers business models, organisational structures, procurement and sourcing strategies, governance models and performance management. From the IT perspective EA is concerned with establishing a working model by which an enabling technology platform can be developed and managed to provide broad organisational support. Such an enterprise-wide IT infrastructure should be efficient to operate as well as being very resilient, reliable, secure, performant – and flexible. It must enable the business to change and evolve rather than hold it back. The IT infrastructure generally comprises a set of IT services, application platform suites, communication middleware and computing hardware, storage and networks and data centres.
Spatial Consultants believe that the development of an IT infrastructure must consider the role of geospatial data and technologies from the outset in order that the geospatial capabilities that are required across the enterprise can be architected as platform services. This definition of GIS as ‘Geographical Information Services’ is quite distinct from mainstream notions of GIS as a standalone application suite. We believe that each element within the IT infrastructure should be spatially enabled such that it is able to treat geospatial data on equal terms to other common data types. Any complexity involved in achieving this should be hidden from the users – the services just need to be available, predictable and reliable.
Increasingly, platform services are being made available as web services such that they can be used in a standard way from any application running on operating system and written in any programming language. Web services can be developed with deceptive ease but to produce a consistent set of services to serve the needs of the enterprise, the services and their composition need to be carefully architected from the outset. This is a key tenet of the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) paradigm. GIS capabilities cannot be simply bolted on top of an enterprise SOA, they must be built into the SOA itself.
We apply industry approaches (such as TOGAF and Dynamic Architecture) as well as standard reference frameworks (such as Zachman) and standard architecture reference models (such as the OGC model and the US Federal Enterprise Architecture reference model) to develop spatially enabled Enterprise Architectures.