Rick Lauderdale Emerges as a Leader Among Enterprise Architects


rick lauderdale enterprise architect interview
Rick Lauderdale

As an aerospace maintenance duty officer in the US Navy, Rick Lauderdale became familiar with the vast, unpredictable nature of the world’s oceans. That experience would serve him well later when he became an enterprise architect. Enterprise architects must anticipate and act on both changes in technology and the business climate of their employer.

Lauderdale has met those two challenges head on, which has taken him to near the top of the profession as the chief architect for the Department of Energy (DOE).

At the DOE, he is responsible for leading and defining the enterprise architecture (EA) strategic goals and objectives by helping to develop, maintain, and govern the overall EA requirements across the organization. Lauderdale is responsible for defining the EA methodologies and architecture review process, and for leading the change and integration of those processes with related business and information technology stakeholders.

His emergence as one of the profession’s bright lights made him the logical candidate for an interview in A&G Magazine.

Question: When did you know that you were going to be a technologist and why?

Answer: One of my earliest recollections was when I had just started college. I worked part-time for Bank of America credit card authorization back in the early ’70s. Every credit card authorization was a manual process using index cards. This was an antiquated system prone to error. Bank of America upgraded the credit card process to IBM System/360. The credit card department then had the capability to enter in a person’s credit card number and instantly see the person’s credit limit, purchase history, authorized users, or if the card had been reported stolen. I became of believer in the power of technology but at that time this technology was limited and only available within corporations or the government.

In 1981, I was a naval officer assigned to a squadron aboard the USS Nimitz. I was one of the first maintenance officers to promote the use of Wang word processors. At that time, the Wang word processor cost over $60,000, was as big as a refrigerator, and I had to send supporting personnel to learn how to operate and, more importantly, how to repair it as we were deployed. The advantage that the Wang offered was that I could take a disk and provide the information to another department and not have to retype or edit the document over again. This was a big time saver and improved efficiency significantly, but such technology was still out of the reach of an individual.

In 1984, I purchased my first computer, an Apple Macintosh 128k, and a dot-matrix printer for $3,000. I felt I was behind in technology, but really I was ahead of my peers. The personal computer was finally becoming available to individuals.

Q: How would you define enterprise architecture?

A: I view enterprise architecture as having a lot of common sense, being inquisitive, and understanding business objectives and technology as well as the fundamentals of project management. One must have a clear understanding of what is to be accomplished and the right resources that need to be trained as well as support from upper management with clear performance metrics. I am 80 percent planning and 20 percent implementation. A lot of project failures I have seen have been just the opposite—20 percent planning and 80 percent implementation. That is where I feel enterprise architecture can assist by asking the hard questions up-front prior to implementation.

Q: Why have these cybersecurity issues come home to roost for both the public and private sector?

A: All companies, whether public or private, have numerous IT assets installed on their particular network. The complexity associated with monitoring various IT configurations, usage, and software updates as well as the cost to support and maintain these critical IT assets are significant and dynamic. A network infrastructure is only as strong as its weakest link. Thus with IT asset configuration controls being so complex and dynamic, it becomes easier to attack the weak link, one that has not been updated or configured correctly. The DOE IT Asset Cybersecurity Initiative assists in strengthening the overall IT asset life cycles exposure to reduce the weak link example.

Q: What is EA’s role in defending against cybersecurity threats?

A: EA can play a major role in defending against cybersecurity breaches as reflected in what the DOE has been able to accomplish by keying in on traditional IT asset management (cost, configuration, contracts) with IT software and hardware life cycles to identify risk impacts from unknown or outdated software and hardware. IDC published a Buyer Case Study: “IT Security: World-Class Enterprise Eases Cybersecurity Mandates”—IDC #25174, which reflects DOE’s unique approach to closing the vulnerabilities associated with outdated software and hardware. This effort has allowed DOE stakeholders to quickly identify what software and hardware are out-of-date or no longer supported and be proactive versus reactive.

Q: What role has Troux’s solutions played in addressing this problem?

A: Troux is an Enterprise Portfolio Management package that has the capability to organize and present information or data related to various business and technology objectives in an easily understood series of reports. DOE uses Troux as a basis to accumulate strategic information and associations, including financial as well as life-cycle data that can be filtered according to the business owner’s objectives, providing easy-to-understand analysis for both planning and implementation.

What DOE accomplished was to take readily available IT asset inventory data (software and hardware) and combine this information with BDNA’s Technopedia and Normalize software into Troux to provide a methodology to filter and present the strategic information in an easy-to-read dashboard.

Troux and BDNA software offer numerous solutions to various IT issues, but knowing how to integrate these various pieces and ensure the business user or stakeholder can utilize this information is really the challenge. Having highly trained individuals who are able to transform a vision into reality is where you either succeed or fail. In my opinion, we have succeeded and continue to improve overall DOE data quality and subsequent analysis and reporting which assists in continuing to find new uses for the ever-changing information.

Q: What kind of advice would you give someone just starting in the EA field?

A: Understanding the business requirements and how technology can help is the key. I have been accomplishing EA for some time but never called the process EA. I know when I was in the Peace Corps as the deputy director for networks and telecommunications in the early ’90s there were 11 area US offices with their own e-mail servers and network. It just did not make sense to me to have 11 different offices trying to provide e-mail so I consolidated the 11 offices down to one, thus decreasing the complexity and cost while improving overall utilization and customer satisfaction. That was EA, but we did not call it EA.

EA is nothing more than having a vision, a plan to start the process; weighing the pros and cons; making a decision to move forward; and then measuring your progress with valid metrics. Ask the hard questions up-front and hopefully you will not be surprised as you move forward, but you will be prepared for the unexpected because you have done your homework.