Cloud Oriented Business Architecture

First, let’s all stop arguing about the merits of Cloud Computing.  It’s here to stay, whether you like it or not…when IBM markets Cloud computing to my mother during prime time TV, you can be certain this is no passing fad (sorry Larry).  In an earlier blog I highlighted the EA impacts of Cloud Computing and I wanted to keep that conversation going by working our way thru the traditional EA layers; so let’s take a more in-depth look at Business Architecture.  If you think about it, most recent IT developments like SOA and distributed computing has impacted application architectures more so than business architectures.  However, with Cloud Computing we are now at an inflection point where meaningful and impactful changes are possible to organizations’ business architectures.

COBA, Cloud Oriented Business Architecture, leverages earlier innovations such as SOA (service oriented architecture), WOA (web oriented architecture), and Process Oriented Architectures (think BPM) and creates brand new possibilities set against the backdrop of cloud computing infrastructures.  Today’s complex enterprises typically have multiple value chains and in terms of business architecture and processes there is often overlap and reuse potential among these “situational business processes.”  Don’t buy this?  Well, consider the massive shift in power that has occurred with the internet and the notion of the “fully informed customer” – markets today are completely driven by the customers who expect what they want when and where they want it.  To borrow a term from the financial industry – this is the new normal.

So, to meet these ever demanding market and customer forces, enterprises really have no choice but to operate as a set of complex adaptive systems that can immediately react and capitalize on changes and customer demands.  Once we come to grips with this reality we can set about enabling a business architecture that can meet these demands – enter COBA.  The inherent value in smaller business process fragments needs to unlocked and leveraged as new markets, channels, and products are explored.  As we saw with SOA and application architecture, the reuse of these business process fragments will make business architecture a differentiator.    When we subsequently look beyond our own enterprises to all the services and capabilities offered by Cloud Computing providers we can truly create brand new interaction models for customers and our library of reusable business process fragments grows exponentially.  Consider for example the detailed property information captured in a P&C underwriting application.  Using mash-up technologies and Cloud GPS/mapping technologies, the same company could leverage this data for claims adjusters that need to optimize their site visit routes.

Nobody can know all the potential downstream uses of a particular business process when it is first created but the inventorying and management of these processes will become just as important as the UDDI and services inventorying of SOA.  Companies that can most effectively leverage their internal and Cloud Computing business process fragments to keep up with customer demand will clearly have a leg up on competitors.  Thoughts on this?  What is your organization doing to adopt your Business Architecture to the new normal?