Survey: Most EAs good for now, but not for future

Agencies' enterprise architectures are good enough to support their mission needs for the time being but may not be adequate for the long term.

In a survey of 155 federal IT and business executives, 61 percent said their modernization blueprints 'are not optimal for growth,' and seven percent said their EA is not optimal for their agency's current mission. Meanwhile, 33 percent said the plans are good enough for now and the future.

'The IT folks are concerned about the scale issue as well as the new technology coming,' said Gerald Charles, executive adviser for Cisco Systems' Public Sector Internet Business Solutions Group. 'They are not comfortable with how they will intergrate the new technology.'

Cisco and Market Connections Inc. of Fairfax, Va., conducted the telephone survey of IT decision-makers familiar with their agencies' enterprise architecture, according to Aaron Heffron, Market Connections' vice president for custom research services.

The survey found that the network security, disaster recovery and continuity of operations were the top issues for both business and IT managers.

Security could be impacted the most by using their EA correctly, according to 25 percent of the business managers and 29 percent of the IT managers. After that, shared services (21 percent) and cross-agency collaboration and information sharing (19 percent) also scored high. Among IT managers, 18 percent said enterprise management, cross-agency collaboration and information sharing, and real-time network management could benefit from using their EA correctly.

Charles said this seems to show that federal IT and business managers see security not just as a point solution to their security problem but a part of the broader scope of people, processes and tools, and EA is a part of that.

Funding (23 percent) remains the largest challenge for enterprise architecture, while maintaining security (15 percent) and internal staffing (14 percent) round out the top three obstacles for EA.

And the managers said if they had extra funding, 47 percent would spend it on internal staffing and training.

As agencies mature in using their EAs, 69 percent of the respondents said using their EA to consolidate IT infrastructure will become the biggest challenge. Cross-agency sharing and collaboration (62 percent) and expanding how much money they spend on e-records management (57 percent) followed as the next set of obstacles to using their EA effectively.

'A lot of these challenges are cultural or organizational, not technical,' Charles said. 'They realize consolidation brings benefits of lower costs, but they must work through the other issues as well to get the consolidation done.'

Heffron added that the overall message from the survey was that agency IT and business managers have a lot of competing priorities and can't move forward as fast as they would like.


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