Enterprise architecture is slowly establishing itself in colleges and universities as information technology matures and becomes a more integral part of business, industry experts say.
The number of US colleges offering enterprise architecture programs continues to grow with schools such as Penn State University and Carnegie Mellon University. The popularity of EA programs is being driven by a need for greater alignment between the goals of the technology side and those of the larger business or organization, said Rosalie Ocker, director of Penn State’s Center for Enterprise Architecture.
Course enrollees are typically technologists “looking to understand the business better and to work with the business side of their organization,” she said. “Tech people and business people have to work together, and EA should span their areas. That’s what we try to do.”
Technology has sped up the formation of businesses and generating business itself. But that acceleration can come with a cost and make it more difficult get the various parts of a company or organization to work together with a single purpose. That’s the impetus for enterprise architecture.
Enterprise architecture is a modeling approach and business development strategy introduced 30 years ago by John A. Zachman to represent a company’s management structure.
“Architecture is not one thing,” he wrote. “It is a set of things, in fact, a set of 30 descriptive representations relevant for describing a complex object such that it can be created (that is, engineered, optimized so it meets its design objectives) and relevant for changing (that is, improving the object over time).”
Although the approach is slowly catching on, most of the nation’s EA programs are offered as part of a larger MBA program, Ocker said.
Penn State’s EA program, which launched in 2012, provides participants with a master’s of professional studies. It now claims about 378 participants, and 74 have completed the online program, Ocker said.
The Center for Enterprise Architecture hasn’t been dominated by any specific industry. Instead, program participants cover a wide variety of businesses and government agencies.
“Alignment throughout an organization is hard to achieve but necessary for success,” Ocker said. “No matter what you call EA, everyone needs it in order to be aligned; it doesn’t just happen.”
At Carnegie Mellon, the Institute for Software Research provides an executive and professional education program in EA, and Ohio-based Kent State offers an EA graduate certificate as part of its School of Digital Sciences.
Leonard Fehskens, editor of the Journal of Enterprise Architecture, said he was unaware of any organization tracking the nation’s EA programs or related trends.
The San Francisco-based Association of Enterprise Architects, which produces the journal, was founded in 2005. It represents about 35,000 members in about 45 regional chapters, he said.
Enterprise architecture operates at the intersection of design sciences and social sciences, fueling a greater demand for such training. The number of university EA programs has steadily grown, and Fehskens expects a university to someday formalize such training for a “full-blown” graduate degree.
However, the approach is so specialized that it still largely operates under the radar, Fehskens said.
“I don’t think the profession is at the point where high school students can pick a college based on enterprise architecture,” he said. “Most don’t even know what it is.”
Here’s a sample list of colleges with enterprise architecture courses or programs:
1. CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
The Pennsylvania-based Institute for Software Research, Executive and Professional Education offers training courses in the concepts of EA, including major frameworks, program establishment, implementation methods, documentation products, and maturity measurement. Courses review the history and major approaches to EA. The series includes hands-on assignments designed to produce a Web-based EA repository and to populate it with common documentation products and artifacts. The objective is to integrate strategic, business, and technology planning to achieve the organization’s goals.
2. KENT STATE UNIVERSITY
Ohio-based Kent State offers an EA graduate certificate as part of its School of Digital Sciences. The EA program focuses on the business processes and technology infrastructure needed by an organization and the design of software systems that are aligned with the processes and infrastructure to support the goals of the business. It’s designed to prepare students for careers such as solution architect and application or technology architect.
3. PENN STATE UNIVERSITY
The university offers an online Master of Professional Studies in Enterprise Architecture program. The EA degree is not focused solely on the techno-centric side of enterprise architecture; it is an interdisciplinary degree that covers business and engineering, information sciences, and project or portfolio management. It offers participants a broader, more comprehensive perspective.
4. STEVENS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
The New Jersey-based university provides a graduate certificate in enterprise architecture and governance that applies traditional systems and engineering approaches to a broader class of human-centric systems of which a technical system is only one part.
5. UNIVERSITY OF ANTWERP
The Belgian university offers a master’s degree called executive master in enterprise IT architecture. It’s taught in English and designed for experienced IT professionals and experienced business managers. The program focuses on deepening knowledge of enterprise and IT architecture. It also includes modules on business strategy, leadership, change, and risk management.
6. UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
The Colorado-based university offers an EA course for students to learn how to integrate information and communications technologies with business goals. The course provides an overview of the enterprise-wide architectural framework that drives business decisions when selecting information and communications technology. The course encompasses all aspects of information and communications technology, including data networks, applications, operating systems, database systems, telecommunications systems, and hardware components in the context of a total enterprise-wide framework.
7. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, FLINT
UM-Flint’s course is focused on the design, selection, implementation, and management of enterprise IT solutions. It includes how applications and infrastructure fit within an organization. The course also addresses infrastructure management, system administration, data architecture, content management, distributed computing, middleware, legacy system integration, system consolidation, software selection, cost calculation, investment analysis, and emerging technologies.
8. UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
The Canadian university’s School of Continuing Studies provides an EA certificate with three required courses. They’re designed to provide participants with ways to align business strategy with IT, sustain business growth, and ensure that good governance and best practices are being applied. Students also study various accepted methodologies.
9. UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON, TACOMA
UW offers a foundations of EA course to students in the master’s in computer science and systems program. It covers the basics of both enterprise and architectural thinking, including the software to technology to solution architecture continuum. The course addresses the role EA plays in business and IT alignment, architectural styles, and techniques for capturing and documenting architectures. A follow-on course focuses on strategy development, use of standard frameworks for EA, and experiential learning through case study and projects.
10. ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE
While it is not a college or a university, EACOE is an educational resource nonetheless. It has developed a robust body of knowledge for executing architecture- and model-driven business and technology planning, business process engineering, and application development. Many of these techniques, methodologies, and processes are recognized as best practices, and are used globally.