Enterprise architecture defined

An enterprise architecture is a plan to streamline and standardize computer systems within an agency with common hardware and software. It's a blueprint of how an agency's systems should operate, such as identifying one e-mail package that the entire agency should use.

By doing so, information can be more easily shared across the agency, and costs decrease because the agency can use volume buys to drive down prices. Also, because enterprise architecture is a baseline or foundation for operating a system, an agency can easily make needed changes — such as installing a security patch — that affect the entire agency, not just one office.

The term was coined by John Zachman, a former IBM Corp. executive, who is now the CEO of the Zachman Institute for Framework Advancement in California. He lectures extensively on the subject and has met with the task force at the Department of Veterans Affairs that is writing the enterprise architecture plan.

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