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Systems Development Methods for Enterprise Integration, Part 3

  • April 01 2004, 1:00am EST

Author's Note: Earlier columns have separately addressed concepts of enterprise architecture and also of XML (extensible markup language) and Web services for enterprise integration. This month, we discuss the changes in our systems development methods that are necessary for evolution into 21st century enterprises that are able to survive and prosper in an environment of rapid business change.

Last month, we discussed key questions that systems development strategies must address:

  • How can we design for a future where we will need to be able to change rapidly -- and often?
  • How can we address these problems while also involving senior managers and business experts who set directions for that future?

This month, we discuss solutions to these problems that will enable our enterprises to respond effectively in an environment of rapid business change. Such solutions must consider the following:

  • Systems that are developed for the future must support the corporate goals. This is the most common systems development problem today.
  • We must therefore determine the goals for the future. However, goals are expressed in business terms, not in systems terms. How can we determine what to implement?
  • IT departments must be aware of strategic directions so they can design for the future. This is difficult, as most IT departments do not participate in strategic business planning.
  • IT departments must build systems based on strategic business plans if those systems are to be aligned with corporate goals. They must be based on activities and processes designed for the future, not the past.

If these points are considered, technology can offer competitive advantage: it can be used to help achieve the strategic business plans and corporate goals, with new activities and processes that respond in seconds or minutes -- not in days or weeks.
Enterprise engineering resolves many of these problems with systems development. It enables business and IT experts to work together in a design partnership -- using enterprise engineering driven by strategic business plans that set directions for the future.

Enterprise engineering supports enterprise architecture, business reengineering, forward engineering and reverse engineering. These business-driven methods are used to:

  • Build systems for the future that can support the corporate goals.
  • Identify goals for the future in business terms, so that IT can determine what to implement in systems terms.

Enterprise engineering provides strategic business planning methods so that the IT department can participate in strategic business planning with management. It enables IT to build systems based on strategic plans so that those systems are aligned with corporate goals. Technology can then offer competitive advantage -- used to help achieve the strategic plans and corporate goals.
We will now examine the business-driven enterprise engineering methodologies in more detail. These methods support all phases of the systems development life cycle (SDLC). Figure 1 illustrates that phases above the line are technology-independent methods (strategic business planning, data modeling and function modeling) and focus on the business. They apply to rows 1 to 3 (planner, owner and designer) of the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture. The strategic directions set by management provide input to strategic business planning. These are addressed in column 6 (why) of the Zachman Framework. These plans indicate the information requirements of management that are input to data modeling in column 1 (what): strategic, tactical and operational data modeling. Concurrently, plans and data models indicate how information usage is input to function modeling for activity, scenario and process modeling in column 2 (how).

Phases below the line in Figure 1 are technology-dependent and address the Enterprise Architecture rows 3 to 5 (for designer, builder and subcontractor). These methods address component design and systems implementation. Technology and systems requirements provide input to systems design. Web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA) XML-based business process management and object-oriented methods in this phase are used for application design, database design and object design of systems to be deployed on corporate intranets and/or the Internet. Identified performance requirements then provide the input required by the systems implementation phase.

Figure 1: Enterprise Engineering Supports the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture, with Rapid Implementation of Priority Enterprise Architecture Areas

The result of these enterprise engineering methods for the 21st century enterprise is the rapid identification of reusable business activities and business processes that can be implemented once yet shared many times enterprise-wide. Redundant data versions and their consequent redundant processes are eliminated. Business objects are implemented only once, yet shared enterprise-wide. These are the business objects whose identification has been so elusive when approached traditionally using object-oriented methods from a bottom-up perspective.

The same object-oriented methods are now able to implement these business objects rapidly as reusable business processes with reusable data and methods. Changes can be applied rapidly; once changes have been made to relevant business objects, all systems in the enterprise that share those same business objects immediately operate using these changes.

Alternatively, business process management languages used for SOA can be automatically generated as executable XML-based code directly from workflow models. These business process management languages can also be automatically generated now directly from unified modeling language (UML) diagrams. Two examples are: executable business process specification schema (BPSS) code, as defined for ebXML; and business process execution language for Web services (BPEL4WS, or just BPEL) derived from UML diagrams, as developed now by IBM following its purchase of Rational. Another example is automatic generation of executable BPEL code by Microsoft from BizTalk Process Orchestration diagrams using BizTalk Server 2004.

The overall result of using enterprise engineering with enterprise architecture - building systems based on strategic plans for the future as described -- is dramatic savings in development time and cost. Redundant data maintenance costs are eliminated, with further large cost savings in operational processing experienced with today's stovepipe systems. The business objects that have been implemented once, yet shared enterprise-wide, permit rapid business change in days and sometimes hours -- no longer in months or years (as with today's stovepipe systems).

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