Keeping EA Demons at Bay - InformationWeek

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9/22/2004
11:35 AM
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Keeping EA Demons at Bay

When describing the principles behind a successful state enterprise architecture, Patricia Carlson earlier this week said it should be as practical and flexible as possible and include input from not just state IT professionals but those on the federal and local level as well. Speaking on a panel at the National Association of State CIO's annual conference in New Orleans Monday, Carlson, the Wisconsin Department of Administration's c

When describing the principles behind a successful state enterprise architecture, Patricia Carlson earlier this week said it should be as practical and flexible as possible and include input from not just state IT professionals but those on the federal and local level as well. Speaking on a panel at the National Association of State CIO's annual conference in New Orleans Monday, Carlson, the Wisconsin Department of Administration's chief enterprise architect, used a "nonexample" to make her point (I learned about nonexamples as an undergrad but haven't thought much about them over the past decade).An enterprise architecture should not be like the Winchester Mystery House, she said, in reference to the 160-room mansion built by the gun magnate's widow, Sarah Winchester, in the late 1800s. Legend has it, Mrs. Winchester had the mansion built over a period of 38 years and kept adding rooms to assuage (and protect herself from) the spirits of the many victims killed by Winchester rifles. The house is a marvel of building creativity and innovation, yet it's completely uninhabitable, Carlson said.

Applied to public-sector IT, the Winchester House shows what happens when you have a hundred builders but no architects, Carlson noted. To avoid Winchester House-inspired IT projects, states need to develop standards and guidelines and create incentives -such as cost savings - for agencies and administrations that comply.

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