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Arctec Views

November 15, 2003

In this issue:
    * Enterprise Data Architecture, Part I
    * Enterprise Architecture News
    * Arctec Group News:
    DCI and MetaGroup Enterprise Architecture Conference

Arctec Group is an architectural services company focused on Enterprise Architecture issues. With this newsletter, we aim to serve our clients, partners, and colleagues by providing our view on current issues and best practices in Enterprise Architecture as well as aggregating interesting news from around the globe.

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Enterprise Data Architecture: The afterthought, Part I

Over the past few months we have explored a number of Enterprise Architecture Concerns, from the Enterprise Architecture Obstacle Course to a Holistic view of Security Architecture Elements. In the first part of this two part article we will discuss the importance of Enterprise Data Architecture, and an approach to get the most effective decision support information out of your data. In the second part we will discuss more detailed approaches to ensure the quality of the information used for decision support.

I find that most of the conversations I hear about Enterprise Architecture focus primarily on Infrastructure or Application domains.  I rarely find many organizations putting nearly as much effort into Enterprise Data Architecture. This is hard to understand or justify when you consider the majority, if not all domains within Enterprise Architecture, are in place to support the efficient and secure capture, processing, and distribution of data.  So why does this happen?  Why is Enterprise Data Architecture the afterthought? So many times we here about the “If we build it, they will come” approach to Enterprise Architecture.  This usually coincides with the “Ivory Tower” syndrome affecting too many Enterprise Architecture services.  Incorporating Enterprise Data Architecture in the process will alleviate some of these challenges by refocusing on what information will flow through these systems. Why build a house with no regard for those who inhabit it? Why build a car without thinking of the driver? Houses are designed with efficient spaces that allow us to live easier, protect us from external factors, and provide us an environment to grow.  Cars are specifically designed to meet a function of moving us from one location to another. By considering the inhabitant and driver you will build a better house and car.  By considering the data you will build better applications.
Another very important aspect is to not only consider the raw data, but to understand how the data is used as information for decision making.  An analogy of this is when one of the top 3 leading auto manufacturers spent large sums of money on automation for their production lines to improve the efficiency in which they build cars. In this case they understood the car to be built, the “data”, however they did not completely account for the demand for its use.  It turns out that automation improved output tremendously. However, they built more cars than people wanted to buy.  In addition, it was difficult to change the automation on the production lines to build a different car that additional people would buy.  Data in the enterprise is ever changing.  Just collecting data more quickly or efficiently does not necessarily translate into more use or better decision making. 
When exploring Enterprise Data Architecture concerns it is important to have the end in mind.  Effective operational and strategic analysis require considering decision support information.  One of the more popular industry approaches to model data as information for decision making is Dimensional Modeling.  Dimensional Modeling is an approach that focuses on a logical understanding and representation of data.  Dimensions and Facts are the building blocks of Dimensional Modeling. A Dimension is a logical representation of business context that has decision support importance, when analyzing measurements captured by business events.  This includes who, what, when, where, and why context associated with business events.  Some examples of dimensions include customer, offering, location, time, partner, resource, process, etc.... A fact is a business measure associated to a business event. A business event is any activity a business performs that has decision support importance when analyzed in context to the business environment.  This includes items such as sale, partner, process transactions, etc.
Too often these logical representations of data are not considered when building applications.  There is a constant struggle between on line transaction processing systems (OLTP) and on line analytical processing systems (OLAP) when it comes to data. They both have some very different requirements in regards to usage. OLTP data stores must be structured for efficient data capture and processing. OLAP data stores must be structured for efficient data delivery. These are perfectly appropriate considerations. However, there is a logical understanding and representation of data that crosses both of these system types.  Failure to adequately consider this representation leads to inconsistent data, increased cost for integration and communication, and inevitably poor decision making based on the information. By including data architecture representation in all areas of the enterprise, common missteps that organizations make can be avoided.
Next month we will focus on some specific techniques that can assist organizations in successful data architecture.
- Charles Belisle
Enterprise Architect
Arctec Group


Enterprise Architecture News

Novell Acquires SuSe
Novell continues on its acquisition path by acquiring SuSe. Combined
with Novell's puchase of Ximian over the summer, Novell is capable of
delivering solutions for user desktop and enterprise servers.

Information Security
CIO magazine produced an excellent study overview of Information
Security in practice

"The Myth of Homeland Security" Book Released
Noted computer security pioneer, Marcus Ranum's analysis of the
shortcomings in security. Asks the question: "Do you feel safer now that
we have a Department of Homeland Security?"

Rule Based Programming
The Server Side has an in depth article on build Rule-based Message
Driven Beans in J2EE environments.

Microsoft and Open Source
Robert X. Cringeley's view of Steve Ballmer's "fundamental
misunderstanding" of the Open Source movement

Microsoft Security Blog
"Simple Security Guy" Michael Howard is now publishing at GotDotNet


Have your say
Agree? Disagree? Insufficient data to judge? Email us at, we want to hear from you.


Arctec Group News

Arctec Group was an attendee at last month’s DCI and MetaGroup Enterprise Architecture Conference. The conference provided a good variety of experienced speakers from Architecture-based consultancies, practitioners from private and public sector companies and related industry organizations, and organized networking sessions on specific topics.  Also introduced was the Global Enterprise Architecture Organisation (GEAO), a new not-for-profit created by and for professionals who work in the field of Enterprise Architecture.  Visit their website at


Arctec Group: Strategic Technology Blueprints

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