The university is a decentralized organization with many discrete Information Technology groups. These vary in size from 1–3 person departmental groups to a few groups with hundreds of staff (ITS, MCIT). Many groups believe in sharing innovative ideas, good practices and processes. Given the numerous IT groups, university-wide systems and supporting processes—crafted specifically to support this sharing—are needed.
The goal of Enterprise Architecture (EA) is to help minimize these disadvantages by providing a roadmap for technology, and enabling communication of that roadmap to all departments at the university.
Without Enterprise Architecture:
- Schools and departments spend effort working on technology infrastructure and commodities instead of focusing on mission-specific needs.
- Innovations can remain trapped within departments and other departments may not know a technology solution exists.
- Departments "re-invent the wheel" because existing solutions are difficult to share, or they don't know about other technology solutions.
- The university lacks a means and standard procedures to determine if a system should be implemented as a joint effort.
- When technologies become well-enough adopted to be converted to a university-wide service, initial solutions have often been implemented with a given technology, while a different technology may be needed to meet the new scale requirements. The original developer may have to choose between discarding their technology in order to use the common system or supporting their own now-non-standard version.
- Applications may be deployed before the supporting infrastructure is sufficiently scaled, resulting in overloaded resources such as network or storage capacity.
The benefits of having an Enterprise Architecture are:
- Frees unit IT staff time to work mission-specific projects and innovations
- Enables more innovation at the departmental level
- Provides a stronger technology infrastructure at the central technology core
- Guides where a service belongs on the service level (community, toll, public good)
- Reduces risk and exposure
- Lowers total cost of service ownership
- Lessens duplication of effort and services
- Increases reuse of existing systems and system components