Can an Enterprise Architect innovate simply?
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Ironically, the very existence of an Enterprise Architect may result in your company’s IT system being anything but innovative and simple. Is it innovative to use AJAX because it’s cool? Is it simple to use EJB’s because your IDE has a nifty wizard for them?

I’m not down on the need for an Enterprise Architect – that is how I would describe myself. Yet, companies need to be really careful when they hire one of these that they don’t end up with architects who are so up with the latest technologies, that they become consumed with using them at every turn, even when not necessary (and I would classify most of the new technologies as unnecessary for the vast majority of projects.)

See my post on the costs and overhead of adopting new technologies. Far too many companies have had their software over architected, never benefiting from it, and in many cases having it re-designed when the next architect is hired.

I don’t disagree with anything in the original post, but I’ve seen this technology abuse so much in this field, and seen first hand how much it costs companies, that I also have to add my word of warning.

So the answer to the question of this post, is most definitely yes, that’s the entire reason for hiring one, however, with a big condition added, which is, the company should not qualify the candidate simply for their knowledge of all the technologies out there. There needs to be a sound and conservative approach to software architecture that will prevent the architect from over complicating the solution.

Andreessen: PHP succeeding where Java isn't
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While I’ve been working in Java for the past 7 – 8 years, I definitely do not label myself as a Java -loyalist. I’m an Internet Application loyalist, and I want to do whatever it takes to get the apps done right and done fast. I agree with Andreessen’s statement that Java’s complexity has grown by leaps and bounds. The learning curve has become too steep, and many IT departments are finding it difficult to train an employee in all the technologies needed to go in and make a simple change to a module on their web site. When you have to know Spring, Hibernate, Struts, Tiles, SQL/RDBMS, and make edits within all these technologies in order to add one field per the client, it becomes utterly ridiculous.

It may be fun for us developers, and we love all the separation of the various layers of the application, but it’s no good for the client, and that’s who pays us. So we as Architects, Analysts, Designers, and Developers better come up with something that provides for much faster turnaround time.

Just Because It's Free, Doesn't Mean It's Free
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Just a thought for Internet Web Development departments. Many times a department will make a decision to use another technology (for example, an open source Java library) which is free. Its quickly implemented, but the department and the company never stop to calculate the true costs. When adding any new technology, there will always be a learning curve, not only for the current employees but also for any new employees brought on in the future (whether out of growth or for replacement). As well, now that an additional skill set, or API knowledge is needed, it might increase what the company has to pay to hire an employee.

The added technology may solve a real problem, and may not cost the department anything up front. But the question is, how much company time and money will it cost down the road? Will it be harder to replace any employees who have this new knowledge? Will other employees in the department need training? How quickly will they be able to pick it up? Will it unnecessarily complicate your application?

All important questions to ask.


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