Serge Thorn as written an excellent blog Enterprise Architecture Tools: Why are IBM, HP, Microsoft, CA and others absent? He makes the point that we would be well served as enterprise architects if the major tool vendors created integrated products that addressed all the activities that we engage in. There are tools for modelling, there are repositories, portfolio management tools, governance platforms, requirements tools, CMDBs, non functional modeling tools, but there is nothing that brings these together. The small tool vendors will not have the capability to develop a comprehensive toolset but the large vendors will. The prize for them is that with such a toolset deployed, they have the opportunity to be at the centre of IT planning at a strategic and tactical level.
However, I don't think we help the vendors. We can't decide on a definition of enterprise architecture. In some organisations it is strategic activity, in others low level technical tasks masquerade as architecture. We need to stop refering to developers, quality assurance staff and designers as architects. We need to stop including these activities in the remit of enterprise architecture functions. There are well established development and test tools for these activities.
We need to properly define the tooling that will support the process of "architecting":
- formulation - business & IT strategy alignment, strategic IT problem resolution, future state models, roadmaps, policies, architectural requirements
- alignment - impact analysis (on the business, current IT, future IT), project governance, portfolio planning, scoping, strategic capacity planning, cost/TCO/skills/organisation/capability implications
- support - design alignment (approvals & waivers)
- feedback - post implementation review, benefits review, operational feedback
To date, my view is that tools have concentrated on supporting the creation of architecture rather than the process of architecting which is broader, more complex, requires more information and is about delivering strategic benefit to the organisation. To carry out the architecting activities we have to pull to together information from a variety of incompatible sources (or use a best guess) to make important decisions.
To get architecture tool support right, as with any business requirement, we need to take our own medicine and take a process view of architecture rather than an simplistic artefact oriented view.