South African enterprise architecture specialists Knotion Consulting has provided PPS, the largest financial services mutual in the country, with an Enterprise Architecture As A Service (EAaaS) offering considered to be the first of its kind in the world.
“Fundamentally, EAaaS is about quickly delivering value in the production and use of enterprise and solution architectures. The focus is on developing the architecture, rather than the capability, to provide practical benefits for the business early on,” says Marius Snel, CEO and owner of Knotion Consulting.
For PPS, the Knotion approach aligned with its strategic requirements given the changes that were taking place inside the company.
“We successfully launched an EA function within the group and examined ways to effectively grow it. Following extensive research, we decided to outsource to a specialist company as opposed to building the capacity in-house,” says Avsharn Bachoo, CTO of PPS.
Knotion developed a proof of concept EA blueprint for the business, and with PPS happy with the result, embarked on the approach to use Knotion as its EAaaS provider.
“Many companies choose a framework such as TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework), as the foundation to develop their EA capability. This is followed by customising the framework for the organisation based on the architects’ skills and experience. By the time that the EA capability is up and running, a company would have spent a significant amount of resources already, without showing any clear business value,” says Snel.
With EAaaS, the value is derived by providing services to develop the relevant architectures as and when required by the client. These are provided using an architecture framework that Knotion has developed for this purpose – so delivery is consistent across the function. The client pays for the service and architecture deliverables and not the capabilities. Unlike traditional approaches to EA where the value comes after the creation of a capability, the ‘as a service’ approach focuses on the outcomes, not the means.
“Setting up an EA environment can take anything from three months to more than a year, our value proposition is already saving a client a significant amount of time.” adds Snel.
Another challenge with the traditional approach, is that EA can easily become an organisational entity. It is transformed into ‘just another part of the business’ instead of being integrated into all operations and offering a return continuously.
Snel says an EAaaS approach turns this thinking on its head and leads to delivering value in more cost-effective and efficient ways. “The focus is on getting the most out of EA instead of spending resources to create it from scratch,” he explains.
For Bachoo, the Knotion EAaaS solution was ideal as it was designed to deliver outcomes instead of being stuck in the methods, meta-models and tools of architecture design.
“Most organisations try to predict the future and then build a rigid IT ecosystem around it. I believe in a more modular approach to architecture and using that to see what is coming. Knotion uses layers and building blocks that can easily snap in and out of our systems as technology evolves. This sees us being more agile to changing innovations and able to quickly adapt to new technologies,” says Bachoo.
Knotion can provide this service thanks to the investment it has made in the enterprise architecture development process, as well as the reference models it has built using industry best practices. It believes that by commoditising 80 percent of that which makes up not only an architecture capability, but by creating modular components for that architecture, it can deliver this service effectively. The result was that Knotion could provide the modular architecture that Bachoo desired. The added benefit was that Knotion could spend time focussing on the 20 percent that gives PPS its core competitive advantage.
“The positive impact Knotion has already had on our application architecture is the biggest success story. Prior to commencing with the project, we had 130 silo-based applications. Subsequently, this has been streamlined into a single blueprint to provide us with an integrated view of everything inside the business,” says Bachoo.
The Knotion implementation at PPS has enabled the organisation to ensure its cloud strategy for the remainder of the year remains in place.
“Our various applications need to seamlessly migrate to the cloud. Already, many of them have been architected for it, but we will continue to expand our development to incorporate all essential services for the cloud. Even though our migration path has not changed, the Knotion enterprise architecture as a service approach has enabled us to be more effective and embrace a multi-tenancy way of doing things,” says Bachoo.
“One of the biggest benefits of using Knotion in this way, has been to enable us to explain complex IT infrastructure in business terms. With ‘as a service’, we are able to take away much of the fuzziness generally associated with technology jargon and translate it into deliverables that our business users can understand,” he says.
EA for all
Knotion is quite excited about this approach as this offering is not limited to large enterprises.
“Considering that many SMEs do not have the resources to deliver internal EA capabilities, our solution plugs in to their environment and can be fine-tuned as required. Even corporates that have seen enterprise architects leave the company or divisions being disbanded, can leverage the offering to streamline and fast track its implementation and management inside the business,” says Snel.
Snel feels that EAaaS will reshape how architecture will be delivered to business in the future.
“With this, enterprise and solution architectures can be done in a more effective way and we believe it will significantly change how architecture is viewed. It will unlock significantly more value for businesses on the road ahead,” concludes Snel.