Enterprise Architecture Antipatterns

Trapped in a vicious cycle of bad advice driven worse action and even worse results? Well, read this article to boost your immunity and get the results EA can deliver.

Trapped in a vicious cycle of bad advice driven worse action and even worse results? Well, read this article to boost your immunity and get the results EA can deliver.


Part 1 of this 3 part series introduced the "MEASURE magic." It is important to know why the enterprise still does not benefit much because of this excellent approach. The main reason behind the low adoption of Enterprise Architecture and the resulting benefits is Enterprise Architecture antipatterns. In an Enterprise, presence of these antipatterns prevent the practice of  the "art of enterprise architecture", EA benefit analysis and getting the the right answer to the fundamental question: "Why EA?" Therefore it is important to get to know these obstacles that prevent the practice of EA.

Enterprise Architecture Antipatterns

Antipatterns, comprises the study or specific repeated practices that appear initially to be useful, but eventually result in bad consequences that outweigh the hoped-for advantages. In this section I will introduce 14 widely seen antipatterns in our enterprise architecture world.

Table 1: Enterprise Architecture Antipatterns

Enterprise Architecture Anti-Patterns Problem Solution
The Magic Bullet It is perception that Enterprise Architecture is the magic mantra that cures enterprise problems automatically.
  • Understand "why" EA, "what" EA offers, and "how" we achieve EA
  • EA is a karmic guidance that empowers enterprise senses.
  • EA should be a practice not a bookshelf
Thermal Runaway It is a common symptom that a lucrative investment return alone enough persuade enterprise sponsors investing huge capital without any scientific Risk-Return profile analysis; ends with a failure and huge financial loss
  • Understand the EA benefit analysis and measurement process before it becomes a bubble burst
  • Calculate Risk-Return Profile of each investment
  • Identify the possibilities of expected opportunity loss


Chain Reaction It is a common symptom across the enterprise that EA is taken as a destination that is in reality a journey. EA initiative affects significantly in different area of your enterprise activities. Enterprise Architecture manifests all these areas in a harmonious way:
  • Process Oriented Concept
  • Technology Oriented Concept
  • Human Oriented Concept
  • Modelling Framework
  • Reference Architecture
  • Enterprise Engineering Methodology
  • Enterprise Tools
  • Enterprise Modules
  • Enterprise Operational Systems
The Butterfly Effect Inadequate dependency analysis risk solution approach. SOA implementation in most of the organization fall in this category.
  • For any particular solution approach both life-cycle and life history aspect of entity need to be considered
  • Identify the onion scales of actors and stakeholders
  • Identify the implication on each of the entities
  • Must consider a comprehensive set of enterprise views and viewpoints. For example GERAM views and RM-ODP Viewpoints
The Domino Effect Enterprise Architecture methodologies do not deal with Life History of entities. Therefore it loses all historic traceability and possibilities of future analysis. Introduce Enterprise Life History. Please note, Life History is not same as Life Cycle.Reference:Harmony, the Enterprise Classification Framework: "The Eixample and Modernisme"
Ivory Tower Produces ideology based enterprise architecture with a pile of documentation, presentations and policy direction in silos. This unrealistic enterprise landscape fails to connect Business and Technology.
  • Realistic Enterprise Master Plan
  • As Is, To Be, Could Be Analysis
Art for Art's sake Models are mostly produced alone with little reuse value, with a huge information gaps Create enterprise models as suitable for each of the enterprise views and viewpoints with respective details.
Lost in Translation The concepts of strategy and governance have been grossly modified and confined to represent the management, based on the assumption the board of directors alone has the experience to control the business climate of the enterprise and manage traditional risks. Such a thought confuses cultural transparencies with the leadership qualities it takes to manage an enterprise's intellectual capital and information. We should be able to recognize the difference and use of these powerful management philosophy
  • Strategic Management
  • Strategic Execution
  • Quality Management
  • IT Governance
  • IT Implementation
  • IT Delivery and Support
Short Circuit EA Program starts mostly get distracted from its original intension or sometimes people ends with a Governance or Strategy Plan or Just a Process Transformation programme Understand the Enterprise system thinking and EAF landscape at the first place and keep a balance between each of the subobjectives of this complete program. Reference Architecture and Enterprise Master Plan are the mandatory starting point.
Glossy ware Enterprise architecture is a showcase of buzzword driven, magazine based change-over program Rationalize the EA requirements and directions that are aligned with the business not with the buzzwords.
Astigmatism It is a well-known symptom of a blurred visionary direction from EA landscape that sometimes causes a distortion in portraying the "To Be" picture of the business vision. EA fails to provide a proper guidance around the business and technology alignment and so does the strategic portfolio management and alignment of the investment plan based on Risk-Return Profile of the investment and Expected Opportunity Loss factors.
  • Realistic Enterprise Master Plan
  • As Is, To Be, Could Be Analysis
Elephant Test Enterprise has a tendency to be a believer in Glossy ware and take part in elephant test. Industry leading EAF are now driven by different blind people as part of elephant test and trying to derive an EAF that has all glossy ware but no directive guidelines on "why" and "what" is EA. These EAF are producing some of the industry buzzword compatible EAF. Enterprise Architecture Framework ideally should follow the top-down approach of Enterprise Reference Architecture Framework and then as part of that guidelines should address the relevant industry standards. Most notorious random middle in approach is creating more problems than solution.
Art-o-Fact Models are created as part of EA activities and never been traced back to business reality. As a result many models may be invalid soon and obviously with no reusability value. Models should be in sync with the business activities. Capture the life History of models.
Catch-22 Enterprise is bogged down to find resolve the chicken-egg problem. SOA versus EA, EA versus Governance, and Model versus Process are good example within the enterprise that sometimes takes you nowhere until you rationalize the theme of reference architecture. Derive your EA from Enterprise Reference Architecture Framework, Create Solution Architecture from EA, Create SOA from EA.

Today's leading Enterprise Architecture frameworks starts with "how" to build better enterprise architecture methodically and drag you to swim in a jargon trapped swimming pool. This stereotyped approach traps our simple Enterprise Mind with either some subjective case study, or relying on others' numbers published by vendors / separate consulting groups / evangelists with their specially programmed subliminal messages. Be immune to these traps to prevent all those ill effects that prevent us from getting the real benefits of from the "art of Enterprise Architecture".


Enterprise Architecture Antipatterns knowledge will empower us to calibrate our enterprise architectural best practice senses to identify those illusionists who eventually make us to be a part of their case study, recycle our failure stories and help them to sell their dotted toys. EA Antipatterns will help you to realise the benefits of Enterprise Architecture as a real art of enterprise success.


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Posted on 05/29/2009 by

Enterprise Architecture Antipatterns author sourabhhajela



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