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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Federated Enterprise Architecture: Meaning, Benefits, and Risks

Federated Enterprise Architecture: Meaning, Benefits, and Risks
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Author(s): Edward M. Newman (National Defense University, USA)
Copyright: 2014
Pages: 30
Source title: A Systemic Perspective to Managing Complexity with Enterprise Architecture
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Pallab Saha (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4518-9.ch010


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The purpose of the chapter is to provide clarity on what a Federated Enterprise Architecture (FEA) is and what the benefits as well as risks are in contrast to a non-federated enterprise architecture. The chapter draws upon organizational theory, federalist theory, and case studies to explicate what constitutes a federated model and the expected federated EA benefits. There are a number of challenges with the concept of a FEA. Two are focused on in this chapter: the meaning of federated EA and associated benefits and risks. The first is the use of the term “federated,” which occurs rather frequently in ICT literature, such as “federated search” or “federated database design,” and in the context of IT governance, “federal model” in Drs. Weill and Ross’s book IT Governance. The term also appears in the non-ICT context such as “federated insurance.” However, the term “federated” is frequently not defined and when defined speaks to a decentralization concept. This distinction is relevant to the understanding and success of a federated EA implementation. In reviewing federalist theory, there is a clear difference between decentralization and federalism. It is argued that the so-called federal or federated “model,” as described, is not federated but is a form of decentralization. The second challenge within the EA discipline is the lack of benefits attributed to a FEA. In the few sources that exist for FEA benefits are either not stated or the stated benefits could equally apply to a non-FEA. It is argued that scalability is the singular key benefit that FEA provides over a non-FEA, and the following non-FEA benefits are enhanced: 1) agility and IT innovation, 2) process consolidation and business process standardization and discipline, and 3) interoperability. However, while there are clear benefits to FEA, there are inherent risks.

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