Enterprise Architecture Principles

​​Graphic representing 11 Enterprise architecture principles for the University of Ottawa

 

Agility& Continuous Learning

Agility & Continuous Learning

Statement: Be agile, embrace the power of the collective, share what you have learned. 

Why is this principle important? 

Agility is about continuous collaboration, small increments, fast prototyping, and quick testing of ideas. Continuous learning is to be able to experiment, fail fast, rectify, and reiterate. This process creates knowledge, there is much to learn from failure.  

Agility and collaboration are the foundations for a frequent feedback loop, so we keep track of how things have evolved and kept them up to date and more important up to speed.  

Change is a constant and we need to be flexible and smart to navigate through and at the same time develop and share the knowledge to sail over smoothly. The power of the collective at its finest. 

How can we achieve it? 

  • Select solutions that are easily adaptable when the university’s strategy and user needs alter. This, in turn, balances the immediate business continuity and regulatory compliance 
  • Frequent feedback loop established within the IT, university’s community and the external partners is the key to embrace collectiveness  
  • Let us strive to be at the forefront. To achieve that, adopt innovative solutions with new digital capabilities and enhance the existing ones. 

 

User-centric Design

User-centric Design

Statement: Tailor solutions to user needs and preferences. Know them, learn from their preferences, provide for their needs.  

Why is this principle important? 

Creating an exceptional digital experience starts by understanding people, not technology. Users' needs are the most important factor and what a user might want while interacting with the University should be the primary focus. In a world of digitalization, the University will have a competitive edge only if the users experience a strong digital presence. Beautiful, well-designed, personalized, and intuitive digital solutions attract and retain users. They also help to lower support costs, increase productivity, and reduce development time. 

How can we achieve it? 

  • A user-centric design should give preference to the mobile-first approach that is responsive and connected. 
  • The utmost important experience at University is an improved digital experience which should also enhance existing capabilities or create new capabilities. 
  • A user-friendly digital experience is one in which all digital and non-digital touchpoints are seamlessly integrated with one another.  
  • Overall experience is enhanced by implementing solutions that are intuitive, consistent and facilitates the users’ interaction with the solution. 

 

Secure and Private by design

Secure and Private by design

Statement: Security is not optional, build it safe and make it count! 

Why is this principle important? 

When an EA framework and a structured governance mechanism is adopted to identify an EA Security Strategy in accordance with the interdisciplinary principles of Privacy and Security, then an organization may be proactive rather than reactive to resolve any security concerns. Fortified or strong security, and enhanced privacy for all can be a constructive, win-win proposal.  

How can we achieve it? 

  • Emphasize on building security into products and make devices as resilient and impervious to attack as possible by means of measures such as continuous testing, security protection and adherence to best programming practices. 
  • Security must fix and compensate for possible vulnerabilities across the organization, not just at the perimeter or part of the organization, in order to allow privacy. 
  • As security attacks grow in frequency and complexity, we need to develop culture of security and a much more proactive and reactive way of doing business. It means taking a holistic and strategic perspective instead of reacting to the risks presented by tactical actions alone. 

 

Managed Data

Managed Data

Statement: Data belongs to the University. Policies exist to ensure its proper management.  

Why is this principle important? 

Institutional data is among the university's most valuable assets and represents a significant investment of time and effort.  

Data is the foundation of our decision making, and supports academic, research and administrative functions. Therefore, we must carefully manage data throughout its life cycle so that we can rely on its accuracy and obtain it when and where it is needed. 

How can we achieve it? 

We must ensure that data governance is communicated and recognized as an enabling framework and an agreed upon model that describes who can take what action with what data when. This will be accomplished by: 

  • making data available for integration and interoperability 
  • promoting a data-driven culture and start from the bottom up to learn how to collect the right data the right way 
  • defining data retention rules 
  • defining our data terms and our data catalog 
  • defining how data quality will be maintained. 

 

Cloud as an enabler

Cloud as an enabler

Statement: Digital transformation extends beyond technology. Let the cloud be the enabler, not the goal. 

Why is this principle important? 

IT will actively migrate most of its service portfolio to cloud-based products and cloud-hosted deployments, selecting scalable, cost-efficient, innovative, and resilient solutions. 

  • Scalability. Cloud services offer us virtually unlimited capacity. 
  • Resiliency. Cloud services are highly durable and spread across multiple geographic locations. 
  • Agility. Rapid deployment of IT resources allowing us to create services rapidly. 
  • Cost. The “pay as you go” model of cloud computing, potentially reducing costs. 
  • Innovation. IS&T’s staff are able to rapidly take advantage of industry trends advancing services. 
  • Compliance. Providing contracts most stringent compliance options for Boston University services. 
  • Avoid vendor Lock-In. Costs for certain solutions are expensive over time, managing programmed obsolescence is a real and expensive factor to any COTS. 

How can we achieve it?

  • Existing standards within the enterprise must be evaluated before new standards specific to cloud are considered for adoption. 
  • Standards existing within various domains like industry, region, and government must be researched to determine their applicability to the enterprise. 
  • Cloud standards must: 
    • Be established and agreed upon at an early stage in the lifecycle 
    • Comply with laws, regulations, and external policies regarding the collection, retention, and management of data with access to all stakeholders to applicable rules 
    • Be specified for all the architectural layers 
    • Apply to all the stakeholders within the cloud ecosystem 
  • A viable exception appeal processes must be in place to address special circumstances. 
  • A common reference architecture must be in place across all cloud environments to facilitate effective communication across layers. 

 

Innovation & Diversity

Innovation & Diversity

Statement: We are a community of thinkers, tinkerers, makers and doers. Think big. Collaborate. Harness the power of diversity and inclusion. Build the foundations for disruption. 

Why is this principle important? 

In order to thrive in a rapidly changing world, we must continuously innovate. By adopting a mindset of experimentation, bias for action, design thinking, and working together, we will create an environment where people always come before technology and innovation can flourish. Collaboration that values diversity and inclusion drives innovation by challenging the status quo and ensures ideas and insights from a wide range of perspectives, experiences and cultures are considered. By collaborating with diverse groups and establishing strong partnerships, we will co-create new operating models, service delivery models, product / service offerings, and find new ways to commercialize innovations, allowing for rapid response to disruptive forces.  

How can we achieve it? 

  • Build diverse and multi-disciplinary teams to create an environment for new ideas and new ways of thinking to flourish. 
  • Reward questioning the status quo. 
  • Use design thinking and agile methodologies to deliver products. Build, test, iterate. 
  • Experiment with different models of commercialization of innovations. 

 

Fit for Purpose

Fit for Purpose

Statement: Be precise, avoid waste. Ask why? Build the right thing and build the thing right. 

Why is this principle important?  

To be fully effective in satisfying business needs as efficiently as possible, IT capabilities and services must be fit for purpose (i.e. must fully conform to functional and non-functional requirements). Over-engineered IT capabilities and services result in wasted budget, time and resources and often increase operational complexity. Under-engineered IT capabilities and services fail to satisfy business needs. 

How can we achieve it?  

  • IT must understand the requirements of the business as they evolve in order to fit its capabilities and services to the organizational purpose. The business must clearly communicate its requirements to IT. 
  • IT must resist the urge to over-engineer its services and capabilities “just in case”.  
  • IT must be transparent in sharing its capability and service goals with the business to verify that it is achieving the correct fit this implies that IT must measure its fit with the needs of the business on a continuous basis. As the business requirements change, IT and the business must continually invest in the evolution of IT services and capabilities to ensure that the fit is maintained. 

 

Evolutionary Architecture

Evolutionary Architecture

Statement: Embrace change, API first solutions and make them resilient to time, avoid technical debt.  

Why is this principle important?  

Transition has been difficult to predict traditionally, and expensive to retrofit. When evolutionary change is integrated into the architecture, transition is simpler and cheaper, enabling improvements in development processes, release processes, and agility in general. 

How can we achieve it?  

  • The architecture must be simple to manage and minimized complexity, which helps to maximize stakeholder value. 
  • The aim is a solution which is neither simplistic and brittle, nor over-complicated/overkill by over-building for flexibility. 

 

Strategic Partnerships

Strategic Partnerships

Statement: Promote strategic and strong relationships with partners and vendors.  

Why is this principle important?  

Strategic partners include vendors, public and private sector collaborators, funders, and other institutions. These strategic partnerships create value through focussing multi-disciplinary resources on achieving shared objectives and outcomes. 

How can we achieve it?  

  • Developing relationships with a rightful strategic partner will lead to mutual wins.  
  • Risk indulged with most strategic vendor relationships are profound, as the buyers will slow to market, will miss project and implementation deadlines.  
  • To avoid denial of business opportunities, transparency and trust on both sides is desirable.  
  • A successful strategic partnership will help build upon good business objectives, with attendant professional and lower financial risk.  

 

Simple& Reusable

Simple & Reusable

Statement: Keep it simple, avoid snowflakes, embrace reuse. 

Why is this principle important?  

The more elegant a solution is, the simpler it is. Keeping it simple is not only a matter of showing respect for you and your colleagues,  but a matter of making it comprehensible by anyone who comes after you, even yourself, after 6 months we've done so much context switching that it is difficult to remember what we did and why we did it. The only way to achieve this is by making sure that we comply with all the agreed rules. Standards are there to keep things consistent, t more important to keep things simple. 

How can we achieve it?  

  • Avoid snowflakes and follow the defined templates, models, approaches and patterns. If there is one missing, reach out, architects love to “define stuff”. 

 

Sustainable

Sustainable

Statement: Shift solutions and culture, simplify and componentize to scale only what you need and when you need it, avoid idle computing power. 

Why is this principle important?  

Sustainability will only be attainable through a change of practices, perceptions, approaches and assumptions. 

Like design for security, you need to conceptualize the long-term financial and environmental sustainability of the application and its parts.  Accepting more virtual, immaterial services has in fact changed them all. Change has happened not by doing things the same way by using different mediums, but change has been reached by disruptive visions and embracing new ways to deliver similar or better functionalities faster. Reshaping forever our lifestyle. The next step is to aim for on demand services or micro-services, where functionalities are dormant, ready to engage but in a low consumption/bare minimum mode that can scale rapidly as required. 

How can we achieve it?  

  • Solutions should be conceived with elasticity in mind, minimizing idle computing resources and summon them only when required. 
  • ​Practices, perceptions, approaches, and assumptions need to change, evolve, and adapt.  The University should innovate and lead the way to develop financial and environmentally sustainable solutions from its conception. 
  • Server less architectures and elastic orchestration of microservices capacity are fine examples of advanced techniques that should be leveraged to have a deeper impact and achieve rational usage: use only what you need, avoid idle computing power​! 
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