Gartner EA Summit – Emergence Enterprise Architecture Keynote


I wanted to give some feedback on some new thoughts from Gartner in their keynote on Emergence Architecture. Overall I thought it was a great keynote presented by Brian Burke and Nick Gall.  It was somewhat of a different theme then in previous years. The keynote centered around "Emergence Enterprise Architecture".

So we see a new term call Emergent Enterprise Architecture. Is this yet another element to put in from of EA? I certainty hope not and honestly I don’t think so. So what is Emergent Systems/Enterprise Architecture?

Gartner started out with the wikipedia definition, so let’s do the same. Here is the wikipedia definition of emergent:

Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge" or "to know") is the effort to discover, and increase human understanding of how the physical world works. Through controlled methods, scientists use observable physical evidence of natural phenomena to collect data, and analyze this information to explain what and how things work. Such methods include experimentation that tries to simulate natural phenomena under controlled conditions and thought experiments. Knowledge in science is gained through research.

imageI really like this approach which at the end of the day which encourages innovation and R&D by true SME’s in IT, Operations and the business units.

For me this really turns the EA Office into a function in which facilitates smart people to make aligned decisions.

The picture you see on the right of the hour glass is an analogy in which Gartner uses to describe this approach. The point here is that you should focus on the focal point. The focal point is the common denominator in solutions. As an example of a common denominator in lets say e-mail would be the MIME standard for defining e-mails. The common denominator does not define the consumption aspects nor the generation aspects but rather the common characteristics of an e-mail.

They also use the shipping container as a great example of this notion. They examine how a shipping container allowed the diverse and exploding business of international shipping by focusing on the common denominator, the shipping container.


I interpreted some high level principles for Emergence Architecture

  1. Self adaptable architecture efforts
  2. Generic personas that interact with architectures
  3. Loose Coupling to external forces such as geographies and regulatory factors

The showed one of the "mega" models which was coined as the Spaghetti and Meatball diagram. I like this phrase a bit and also recommend people to refer to the quote from George Box.

"Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful" – George Box

I think this is very true at least right now with the current state of many tools. It seemed that in the keynote that Gartner somewhat agrees with this assessment as well where they stated that models are often never accurate.

Another possibly controversial notion proposed was when looking at the model, the boxes are not the architecture but rather the lines are the architecture. I think that is a rather bold statement and I personally think that there is some truth there but not the complete picture. I view the "lines" as a cross cutting concern across the architecture.

Below is a Open Group / IEEE 1471 based view on architecture cross cutting concerns.


In summary, this session was one of the better Gartner keynotes I have been in (and I’ve been in a quite a few). It was extremely grounded instead of the typical ivory tower messaging which is sometimes conveyed at these types of conferences.  This was more of a pragmatic approach, which I am a big fan. Ironically, there is almost complete alignment with the principles of the EATK (shown below) and emergence architecture. I have coined this as Enterprise Architecture 2.0.

EATK Principles

  • Introduce New  and Creative Capabilities to Architecture
  • Simplify and Consolidate Solutions for Architecture Design
  • Leverage the Tools You Have
  • Simplify the process
  • Introduce Collaboration into the Architecting Process
  • Surface Information in the Scope and Context of the Architect
  • Every asset relates to another in some way

So if you have access to the materials from Brian Burke I would defiantly check out this new Gartner concept.



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