Visualizing and Measuring Enterprise Architecture: An Exploratory BioPharma Case

by Robert Lagerstrom, Carliss Baldwin, Alan MacCormack & David Dreyfus

Overview — Achieving effective and efficient management of the software application landscape requires an ability to visualize and measure the current status of the enterprise architecture. To a large extent, this huge challenge can be addressed by introducing tools such as enterprise architecture modeling as a means of abstraction. In recent years, Enterprise Architecture (EA) has become an established discipline for business and software application management. Ideally, EA aids the stakeholders of the enterprise to effectively plan, design, document, and communicate IT and business related issues. Unfortunately, though, EA frameworks rarely explicitly state the kinds of analyses that can be performed given a certain model, nor do they provide details on how the analysis should be performed. In this paper, the authors present and test a method based on Design Structure Matrices (DSMs) and classic coupling measures that could be effective in uncovering the hidden structure of an enterprise architecture. The authors perform such a test using data consisting of a total of 407 architecture components and 1,157 dependencies from a biopharmaceutical company (referred to as BioPharma). Findings suggest that this method can reveal new facts about architecture structure on an enterprise level, equal to past results in the initial cases of single software systems such as Linux, Mozilla, Apache, and GnuCash. Key concepts include:

  • For BioPharma, the architectural visualization and computed coupling metrics can provide valuable input when planning architectural change projects (in terms of, for example, risk analysis and resource planning).
  • Analysis shows that business components are Control elements, infrastructure components are Shared elements, and software applications are in the Core, thus providing verification that the architecture is sound.
  • The hidden external structure of the architecture components at BioPharma can be classified as core-periphery with a propagation cost of 23%, architecture flow through of 67%, and core size of 32%.

Author Abstract

We test a method that was designed and used previously to reveal the hidden internal architectural structure of software systems. The focus of this paper is to test if it can also uncover new facts about the components and their relationships in an enterprise architecture, i.e., if the method can reveal the hidden external structure between architectural components. Our test uses data from a biopharmaceutical company. In total, we analyzed 407 components and 1,157 dependencies. Results show that the enterprise structure can be classified as a core-periphery architecture with a propagation cost of 23%, core size of 32%, and architecture flow through of 67%. We also found that business components can be classified as control elements, infrastructure components as shared, and software applications as belonging to the core. These findings suggest that the method could be effective in uncovering the hidden structure of an enterprise architecture.

Paper Information