Enterprise architecture: Where do we go from here?
Integrators prepare next steps on IT blueprints<@VM>The state of EA (continuation of main story)<@VM>EA implementation (continuation of main story)<@VM>Help for contractors (continuation of main story)<@VM>EA crystal ball<@VM>Enterprise software: Quality issues?
- By Brad Grimes
- Aug 12, 2004
In four months, SAIC helped the Homeland Security Department develop its enterprise architecture. Now DHS CTO Lee Holcomb (left) has tapped Karl Kropp and SAIC for the next version.
J. Adam Fenster
By all accounts, it was an impressive feat. Last summer, the Homeland Security Department had four months to develop an enterprise architecture so it could prepare its 2005 budget request.
Without an architecture that mapped information technology systems to specific business functions, the Office of Management and Budget could have denied DHS the funding it wanted for new projects.
More importantly, without an enterprise architecture, the department itself could not identify effectively what IT programs it needed.
"We had to come up with a description of the 'as-is' components of 22 agencies coming into the department, an initial 'to-be' architecture, and a technology and project transition plan," said Lee Holcomb, chief technology officer at DHS. "In terms of applications alone, we discovered more than 2,000 that we needed to better manage at the department level."
DHS hired Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego to help create its architecture. SAIC experts, who had worked with several of the department's legacy agencies, analyzed IT systems across DHS' more than 700 disparate computing systems and identified several areas for consolidation.
SAIC found, for example, that DHS had at least eight programs to manage ports of entry and 14 for issuing credentials.
DHS completed the first version of its architecture in September 2003 in what Holcomb called "record time." To put that in perspective, it took a year to develop one portion of the Defense Department's business enterprise architecture.
The DHS effort is just one of many federal enterprise architecture projects under way. OMB reported that agencies spent $1.4 billion on enterprise architecture and planning in fiscal 2003, according to market research firm Input Inc. of Reston, Va. The government is estimating $1.5 billion in 2004 spending and requesting $1.7 billion for fiscal 2005.
As agencies put into place the first blueprints of their IT environments, systems integrators and other contractors face the question of what happens next. Agencies will need help creating more detailed versions of their architectures. SAIC, for example, is already helping DHS with a second version of its plan.
But the importance of this work goes well beyond the creation of an enterprise architecture. Contractors now must focus on winning the follow-up -- and possibly more lucrative -- work of implementing enterprise architectures.
"Once you get an initial architecture out, you can add more detail to it," said Karl Kropp, director of SAIC's Center for Enterprise Architecture. "You can also work on getting it implemented and actually working with programs. And that's where you see opportunities arise for solutions developers and integrators."
Eventually, all IT projects will have an EA component. Integrators that understand an agency's architecture will be better positioned to offer solutions that complement and enhance the overall design.
"It's a matter of not looking at enterprise architecture as an opportunity in and of itself," said Payton Smith, manager of public-sector analysis at Input, "but looking at it for what it will force agencies to do in terms of managing their architectures going forward."Despite stepped-up spending on EA in recent years, most agencies' architectures can best be described as immature and needing additional iterations that fill in the details about applications, systems and infrastructures.
For example, the Government Accountability Office in November 2003 reported that since 2001, 22 agencies had improved the maturity of their architectures, 24 had backtracked and 47 remained the same.
The situation is unchanged today, said Randy Hite, GAO's director of IT architecture and systems issues.
"There are factions that are doing very well, and there are factions that are not doing as well," Hite told Washington Technology.
Except for high-profile contracts such as SAIC's work on the DHS architecture and IBM Corp.'s development of the Defense Department's business enterprise architecture, the work so far, while plentiful, has been somewhat ad hoc. Much of it has been purchased as consulting through task orders and General Services Administration schedules, Smith said.
Industry officials estimate that about half the government's EA spending goes to the private sector.
"The projects associated with enterprise architecture tend to be buried because of their relatively small value," said Ray Bjorklund, chief knowledge office at market research firm Federal Sources Inc. in McLean, Va. "They're very important, but you're not going to see $20 million EA projects."
Many agencies will rely on in-house IT staff to do asset discovery and mapping using tools they've bought on their own, including Computas Metis and Popkin System Architect. Most of the work has been designed to help agencies get a handle on what their architectures look like.
"The next step is to develop the go-to point. What do they want their architecture to look like going forward?" Smith said.Ultimately, enterprise architecture will be an inherent part of any IT-related contract. Experts have said integrators should build a related practice and understand the architectures of various agencies.
Several integrators have said they see healthy business in helping agencies validate their architectures and prepare business cases for OMB that demonstrate the link between new projects and underlying architectures.
"We're beginning to see RFPs come out with enterprise architecture language in the statement of work," Kropp said. "Basically, 'Thou shalt conform to the enterprise architecture' so that you can ... minimize duplication and diversity, because in many cases it's duplication and diversity that drives up an agency's costs."
Besides fine tuning and validating architectures, agencies will begin working on the technology infrastructures that reflect those architectures.
Soon, analysts say, OMB will start pushing agencies to consolidate IT systems and eliminate redundancies.
This should present an opportunity that integrators can begin planning for now. By analyzing agencies' architectures, integrators can predict what systems OMB might identify as redundant.
They can then proactively develop solutions to help agencies consolidate those systems and conform to OMB's requirements.
Consolidation efforts among multiple agencies are already under way. GSA and OMB have started a line of business initiatives, which aims to establish common solutions and architectures that multiple agencies can use to perform core functions, including financial, grant and human resources management.
"It's like e-gov 2 in that they're looking at back-office processes and seeing where economies of scale can be obtained and solutions can be deployed across government," said Carolyn Brubaker, e-government solutions specialist in the federal unit of Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.
As system consolidation takes place, agencies also will begin migrating to a services-oriented architecture to take advantage of reusable software components within and among agencies, said government and industry experts.
The Defense Department's Network-centric Enterprise Services project is one high-profile, services-oriented architecture initiative.
Such an architecture takes advantage of Web services and Extensible Markup Language (XML) to deliver applications over an Internet protocol network.
"We're seeing a trend toward taking common functionality out of government business systems and putting it into shared infrastructure," said Kerry Champion, chief technology officer of Westbridge Technology Inc., a Mountain View, Calif., developer of secure XML messaging solutions.
Champion said Westbridge's products are being evaluated in Defense Department and intelligence community for building secure, services-oriented architectures.
As system consolidation, services-oriented architectures and other technology initiatives roll out, they'll likely come under separate task orders of whole new procurements, scrubbed clean of any enterprise architecture label, analysts said.
"They may be called 'modernization' or something like that," said Input's Smith.
Michael Beckley, vice president of product strategy for Appian Corp. of Vienna, Va., said his company would recognize EA opportunities by the solutions they called for.
"I'm picking up a pile of RFPs, and they say things like 'gateway,' 'knowledge management,' 'portal,' and 'application integration,' " Beckley said.
These technologies provide part of the foundation of EA implementation. Appian was behind development of the Army Knowledge Online portal, considered one of the largest deployment of Web services in government.The mere existence of enterprise architectures will help all government contractors. When an agency has an enterprise architecture in place, integrators can avoid pitfalls like the ones hampering EDS Corp.'s work on the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, where the EDS team continues to turn up undocumented IT systems that must be accounted for.
"My greatest point of frustration while I was at the Defense Department was failing to get the Navy to understand the need for an architecture in that circumstance," said John Osterholz, the department's former director of architecture and interoperability and an executive at BAE Systems North America Inc.
When an integrator needs to pull together disparate systems, Osterholz said, it runs the risk of "undisclosed dependencies." An enterprise architecture can help mitigate that risk.
As long as integrators stay well versed in agencies' architectures, they have a lingua franca for talking about future IT requirements.
"The government has actually done industry a huge favor by coming out with these architectures," said Richard Young
, above, chief architect at Microsoft Public Sector. "They've created an environment where industry can simplify the conversation they're having with different government officials. I don't have to sit there and lecture someone on the definition of collaboration or data warehousing" because they've already established the working definition.
Said SAIC's Kropp: "An architecture is really an expression of requirements. Now agencies can express requirements in a more robust fashion."
Staff Writer Brad Grimes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.As agencies finalize their enterprise architectures, contractors must anticipate next steps and follow-on opportunities. Washington Technology
asked integrators what they saw as the future of enterprise architecture projects.Jim Baldo ? enterprise architect, Northrop Grumman IT
"The anticipated next step, after you map all the business processes and rules and get them validated and put into a tool, is to go into existing assets and decide what can be eliminated and what can be expanded. We're beginning to see RFIs and RFPs with methodologies for realizing the enterprise architectures." Andras Szakal? chief architect, IBM Federal Software
"There are very few opportunities for us to define an enterprise architecture. The lion's share of the opportunities to affect the goals of an enterprise architecture will be through the implementation of programs."John Osterholz ? vice president of C4IS at BAE Systems North America Inc. and former DOD director of architecture and interoperability
"I'm no longer bidding an architecture job. I'm bidding a job whose natural lifecycle description is in terms of an architecture. ... Over time, integration will be less of a heroic job and more of an expectation."Debra Stouffer? vice president of strategic consulting, DigitalNet Holdings Inc.
"Companies have a lot of opportunities to offer service components that provide solutions to e-gov goals. ... Integrators have advantages in being able to work issues across agencies and departments."Ernst Volgenau ? chief executive officer, SRA International Inc.
"A lot of work is in independent validation and verification, checking over the EA work of an agency. More often than not, it is embedded in a larger contract."Michael Beckley ? vice president of product strategy, Appian Corp.
"The real money in new opportunities in enterprise architecture is doing one of two things: helping a department or agency webify an application in a way that's compliant with Web services, or working at a strategic level in helping CIOs define what enterprise architecture standards should be."
After a Government Accountability Office report in March said the Defense Department may have wasted $8 billion in fiscal 2003 on poorly written software, solutions providers have been lining up to tell Washington Technology
how they can help agencies and integrators improve their software development processes.
In the GAO report, the Defense Department estimated it spends 40 percent of its research and development budget on software, which is becoming an increasingly important part of weapons systems.
According to the Defense Science Board, the new F/A-22 Raptor fighter under development will rely on software for 80 percent of its functionality.
GAO said lapses in software quality have contributed to a 127 percent increase in cost of developing the F/A-22.
"The primary reason software is so unreliable, insecure and expensive to develop is a lack of developer testing," said Alberto Savoia, chief technology officer at Mountain View, Calif.-based Agitar Software Inc.
"Studies show that the cost of finding and fixing bugs grows exponentially as you move from design and development through integration and deployment."
Agitar sells Agitator and Agitar Management Dashboard applications, which automate developer testing throughout the design process and display metrics onscreen.
The privately held startup sells almost exclusively to commercial customers, but Savoia said Agitar's backers, including Silicon Valley venture capital giant Sequoia Capital, have begun introducing the company to the government market.
Number Six Software Inc. of Arlington, Va., specializes in improving the development process. The company puts teams of software engineers on projects to help manage development and software portfolios. Its customers include Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., the National Institutes of Health and the State Department.
According to Paul Moskowitz, Number Six's vice president of marketing and sales, inconsistent methods, undefined roles and brittle software architectures are among the primary reasons software projects fail.
To make matters worse, changing requirements and "scope creep" make it hard to keep any project on track, Moskowitz said.Jim Kane
, chief executive officer of the Herndon, Va.-based Software Productivity Consortium, said his group -- which includes Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. -- is committed to developing quality programs.
"It's why they became members in the first place," he said. "They have a passion for good software engineering."
The SPC maintains a staff of engineers that works with integrators and competes for contracts to provide independent validation and verification on government software programs.
"We also work with contract suppliers to bring their products up to CMMI 3 compliance," Kane said. Capability Maturity Model Integration Level 3 is a measurement of software best practices sponsored by the Defense Department.
Several integrators, including SPC members Raytheon Corp. and Science Applications International Corp., recently announced programs that have earned CMMI 3 certification.