Issues Necessitate Change – Evolution of Enterprise Architecture

By Terry Blevins, Fellow of The Open Group, Enterprise Architect at Enterprise Wise LLC

I can’t give you the blow by blow evolution of Enterprise Architecture with any level of accuracy, nor can I say who really “invented” it. Heck I’m still struggling with who first invented calculus – Newton or Leibniz. But what I can say is that I have seen parts of the evolution and there seems to be one thing I feel fairly certain about.  Just like in mathematics, issues of the day had a lot to do with the evolution of architecture in the digital age. Many people tackled these issues over this time period including folk like John Zachman, John Sowa, Dewey Walker, Steven Spewak, Bernie Boar, and many others.

John Zachman describes how he got involved in “A Historical Look at Enterprise Architecture with John Zachman.” In this blog, John described enterprise integration as the issue that drove much of the thinking. The business orientation of this issue was making corporate mergers work. John’s approach, along with John Sowa and the help of Dewey Walker, was to think beyond Information Technology integration and examine organizations, corporate processes, and data. This approach was much larger in scope than the Information Technology architecting done at the time.

The drive for continuous improvement and Information Technology alignment demanded further improvements in the way we thought about architecture – moving ever into the task of understanding an organization’s business issues. [Aside: This wasn’t without resistance, I ran into many technologists that rejected the thoughts of considering higher level concepts like organization structure, business process, and data in designs other than for software applications.]

Other issues that drove changes, such as the following – no chronology implied:

Corporate espionage, whether stealing secrets of an organization or stealing information about customers, where taking advantage of corporation vulnerabilities drove the need to look at those vulnerabilities holistically – that is looking at people, processes, and technology. Architects and builders changed to look beyond just IT to address this area.

The ever present need for corporate efficiency improvements drove the need to look at the combination of function, process, service, information, and all other needed resources to bring forth better corporate capabilities. Architects have to look beyond hardware and networking and think about all the pieces that need to work together to deliver the ability to drive value creation. Builders have to think beyond just function and provide greater focus on usability.

Corporations are faced with global competition and, beyond getting on the internet, they need to become more agile and resilient. Architects need to rethink how they deliver value more quickly to keep pace of change in need and change in technology. Builders are employing latest techniques in Agile and Dev-Ops. Architects and builders need to continuously think about risk mitigation.

The world never stands still – evolution is a constant. Like in mathematics, when there was no way to calculate areas with curves, the need to do so drove an evolution in mathematics with the invention of calculus, issues of the day drive the evolution of architecting. Part of that evolution gave us Enterprise Architecting and continued evolution will give us new Enterprise Architecting capabilities.

Necessity drove the need for mathematics to evolve, and it did. Kudos to both Newton and Leibniz for their part regardless of who had the original thought! Like what happened with Newton and Leibniz on the invention of calculus, many people have contributed to, and will contribute to, the evolution of Enterprise Architecture. The Open Group is a great place to be a part of that evolution.


Terence Blevins, a Fellow of The Open Group, is owner of Enterprise Wise LLC and a semi-retired Enterprise Architect. He is currently a Director of The Open Group Governing Board and an active contributor to the Healthcare Forum within The Open Group.

Terry has been involved with the architecture discipline since the 1980s, much of which was done while he was Director of Strategic Architecture at NCR Corporation. Terence has been involved with The Open Group since 1996 when he first was introduced to The Open Group Architecture Forum. He was co-chair of the Architecture Forum and frequent contributor of content to the TOGAF® framework including the Business Scenario Method. Currently he is excited to help the Healthcare Forum work on Boundaryless Healthcare Information Flow.

Terry was Vice President and CIO of The Open Group where he contributed to The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™.

He holds undergraduate and Masters degrees in Mathematics from Youngstown State University. He is TOGAF 8 certified.