Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Do Enterprise Architects realize when they are being enterprisey?

The adjective "enterprisey" is sometimes used to imply the software recommendation is overly complex even for large organizations and simpler, proven solutions are available...

Alan Pelz-Sharpe asked who loves the incumbent vendor and talks about this scenario from the perspective of relationship where over time legacy products grow features that aren't really that useful. Consider the scenario of the average user of Microsoft products. How many of us truly need the features that Office 2007 provides? For me, I am satisfied with Office 2000 and haven't found a compelling reason to upgrade. Of course, sooner or later, Microsoft like all vendors will force an upgrade.

So, in order to answer the question of whether enterprise architects are too enterprisey requires us to look at other participants in the IT ecosystem. Are industry analysts part of the problem in that they only cover large enterprise class offerings that cost millions while not guiding us to cheaper, more economical solutions? If I were to talk with a Gartner analyst and ask them to provide me with a list of why Alfresco is better than Documentum, could they?

Let's acknowledge that software vendors have a vested interest in ensuring that enterprise architects also stay enterprisey. Should we spend millions on portal software and CRM technologies when the functionality provided by Liferay and SugarCRM may be adequate? The funny thing is that many enterprise architects know that open source is capable of satisfying the business need yet continue to ignore its value proposition. So, ask yourself why?

I believe part of the challenge with open source in enterprise settings has absolutely nothing to do with the babble spewed by others under the label of support especially since the decision-makers aren't accountable for the operational aspects of the chosen software. What they are accountable for is in gaining buy-in early in the lifecycle and ensuring that any proof of concept is successful. Now, the best way to gain buy-in is to acknowledge that open source projects don't typically come with chock-a-block eye candy Powerpoint that an enterprise architect can simply throw their name on and present to others, it would require them to create all this themselves. When you compare this amount of work that needs to be done upfront compared to simply picking up the phone, ringing your favorite sales guy and asking him to do the demo, the enterprisey behavior starts to emerge.

Now, lets also understand that the vast majority of enterprise architects nowadays have lost their technical chops and couldn't get Hello World working. In this situation, do you think they want to be accountable for making open source work or would they rather call up the same vendor who will get something to work for free on their behalf?

Hopefully, you are starting to see the point that enterprisey behavior benefits the IT ecosystem and while silly, wasteful and insulting, it will not go away anytime soon. The drivers for making it go away would require industry analysts such as Gartner to include non-commercial open source in the same quadrants as proprietary closed source, it would require enterprise architects to stay more technical and of course for open source to value the sales model within large enterprises by creating powerpoint as an equal importance to writing software. Of course, I don't see any of this changing and therefore I say to those who make fun of the enterprisey, the entertainment of us enterprisey types will grow by leaps and bounds.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Three Kings to Matt Secoske, Dare Obasanjo, Stefan Tilkov, James Robertson, Chris Petrilli and other enterprisey lovers in the blogosphere...

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