Since IT departments have existed they have always looked for ways to contribute towards the long-term goals of the enterprise; and accordingly, to justify the appropriate investment.
Out of these efforts, the domain of Enterprise Architecture (EA) has emerged as a set of practices used to govern this alignment between technology investment and business/organizational strategy.
As IT departments became more commonplace within organizations, frameworks (such as IBM’s BSP - created in 1980) gave IT Governance its first formal methods of simplifying, analyzing and designing an IT architecture.
Using an EA framework made it far simpler to identify threats and opportunities, plan migration paths, guide IT capital expenditures, and create blueprints for development.
Over the course of the 80s, these ideas were further discussed, developed and popularized. Then in the early 90s the Open Group began work on ‘TOGAF’ - The Open Group Architecture Framework.
TOGAF used an earlier framework developed by the US Department of Defence as a basis, and was the first extensive and comprehensive EA framework to be provided free of charge to organizations for non-commercial purposes.
As the technology landscape has changed and evolved, so has the focus of Enterprise Architecture. For example, in the early days of TOGAF, two key issues for IT Governance were interoperability and integration.
The siloing and separation of information into different IT systems which could not communicate was a big problem, as it blocked the development of business processes which were company-wide. Increasing information-flow across IT systems was therefore a major concern for EA at this time.
More recently, plentiful provision of middleware has made interoperability less of an issue. The trend for EA has therefore been to expand in its scope - from mainly addressing issues within and between IT systems, to becoming increasingly business focused, strategic and pragmatic.
Cumbersome, slow moving IT departments are increasingly viewed as a thing of the past, and current EA frameworks, such as TOGAF 9.1, fully leverage and maximize IT as an enabler of change within an ‘Agile’, responsive organization.