Convergence of Enterprise Architecture and Cloud Computing

In this short article, I am offering two examples that illustrate convergence of Enterprise Architecture and Cloud Computing paradigms. In the more extensive article, I intend to present an analysis of the impact of Cloud Computing on Enterprise Architecture to explain the complex relationships and dependencies between the methods and concepts created around the two paradigms.


Enterprise Architecture: During 1980s, John Zachman developed the idea of describing enterprises by “…a set of architectural representations produced over the process of building a complex engineering product representing the different perspectives of the different participants” [Zachman, 2011-1]). Since then, numerous enterprise architecture frameworks emerged—The Open Group Architecture Framework – TOGAF [TOGAF] being only one example. Not only do heterogonous frameworks exist, but heterogonous enterprise architecture schools of thought and communities of practice developed with complementary or competing interests, as described by Lapalme [Lapalme]. However, Zachman’s Enterprise Architecture Framework became an ontology against which all other enterprise architectures may be compared [Zachman].

Zachman recognized that his framework may be used to model any social or technical system; that is, all types of enterprises—large or small—for example, from consortiums of organizations or governments, down to start-up businesses or small software systems. The framework, and associated modeling methods, is recursive in its nature [Zachman 1987].

Cloud Computing: Cloud Computing is attracting attention by promising to deliver technology services on demand, in a similar manner as you would purchase utilities. Cloud Computing is gaining momentum both on the market [Herbert and Erickson], [Brynjolfsson, Hofmann and Jordan], and with new application domains (e.g., biomedical research [Rosenthal, Mork et al.])

Currently, there are three main types of Cloud services:

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)—Cloud Service Provider (SP) manages IT infrastructure
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)—Cloud SP manages IT platforms on which applications run
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)—Cloud SP enables application services for its users

It could be expected that with the availability of Cloud services, complexities related to organizational management of IT departments are removed, and associated enterprise architecture views are eliminated. However, this is not necessarily the case. For example, if an organization seeks to align its business and IT services, and purchases those services from a Cloud SP, the organization must still design, or, at least be aware of, its business processes and related requirements. Thus, the organization still needs its business architecture, which contains models of organizational business processes and related requirements. These requirements still have to be matched with the offerings of the Cloud services, and their compliance with these services has to be assessed.

Thus, Cloud paradigm does not completely eliminate a need for having an Enterprise Architecture—only the content of the Enterprise Architecture may change. For example, business architecture (which is considered a layer of an Enterprise Architecture) may still be necessary, but other layers (e.g., system and technical) may be significantly reduced. There are also other challenges related to Cloud Computing (e.g., security, integration, risk exposure, Cloud SP management) that the organization has to balance.

On the other hand, the Cloud SP also needs its Enterprise Architecture, starting with its own business architecture. For example, as the Cloud SP’s user base grows, the service requirements will typically became more and more complex, perhaps even conflicting. Consequently, Cloud SPs’ operations are becoming more and more complex. Thus, Cloud SPs will need their enterprise architectures to consolidate and optimize their operations.

These are only two examples that illustrate convergence of the two paradigms; Enterprise Architecture and Cloud Computing. A need for enterprise architecture cannot be eliminated by Cloud Computing; quite contrary, it is the authors’ position that the importance of having sound and adequate enterprise architecture will only grow as Cloud Computing matures. However, it is also the authors’ position that we need to rethink enterprise architecture methods and concepts in order to make the two paradigms work in synergy.

Another reason for critical review of the existing enterprise architecture methods and practices is that enterprise architecture may have to get new use cases and new views. For example, public (customer) view may become very important because of the growing number of users, such as users who access Cloud services via mobile devices. As Cloud Computing matures, a need for having sound standards, and perhaps, various regulatory bodies, will rise. Enterprise architecture methods may offer methods for structuring these standards and views.



[Birman, Chockler, Renesse]   Birman Ken, Chockler Gregory, van Renesse Robert.
"Toward a Cloud Computing Research Agenda." LADIS 2008 - annual workshop focusing on the state of the art in distributed systems, published in ACM SIGACT News, vol 40, issue 2, June 2009, pp 68-80.

[Brynjolfsson, Hofmann and Jordan]   Brynjolfsson Erik, Hofmann Paul, Jordan John. “Cloud Computing and Electricity: Beyond the Utility Model,” Communications of the ACM, May 2010, vol. 53, no. 5, pp 32-34.

[ISO]    ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010:2011. “Systems and Software Engineering – Architecture Description”

[Jaeger, Lin and Grimes]   Jaeger Paul T., Lin Jimmy, Grimes Justin M. "Cloud Computing and Information Policy: Computing in a Policy Cloud." Journal of Information Technology and Politics, Vol. 5(3) 2008. Available online at

[Lapalme]   Lapalme James. “Three Schools of Enterprise Architecture”, IT Professional, 14 Dec. 2011. IEEE computer Society Digital Library. IEEE Computer Society.

[Herbert and Erickson]   Herbert Liz, Erickson Jon. “The ROI of Cloud Apps,” Forrester 2011.

[Mahmood and Hill (Eds.)]   Mahmood Zaigham, Hill Richard (Eds.). “Cloud Computing for Enterprise Architectures”, Computer Communications and Networks 2011 networks/book/978-1-4471-2235-7

[Rosenthal, Mork et al.]   Arnon Rosenthal, Peter Mork *, Maya Hao Li, Jean Stanford, David Koester, Patti Reynolds. “Cloud computing: A new business paradigm for biomedical information sharing.” Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 43 (2010) pp. 342–353.

[TOGAF]   The Open Group. The Open Group Architecture Framework version 9.1.

[Zachman]   Zachman John. “The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture: A Primer for Enterprise Engineering and Manufacturing,” eBook, Zachman International.

[Zachman 1987]   Zachman John. “A Framework for Information Systems Architecture”, IBM Systems Journal, 1987, vol 26, no. 3, pp 276.

[Zachman, 2011-1]   Zachman John. “Yes, “Enterprise Architecture Is Relative” But It Is Not Arbitrary.”

[Zachman, 2011-2]   Zachman John. "Cloud Computing and Enterprise Architecture."


Rubina Polovina, PhD is a principal IT consultant who has been providing leadership on national and international multi-party initiatives in the public and private sectors. During more than 20 years in the IT industry, she contributed to projects in Europe, North America and in the Middle East.

Currently, Rubina lives in Toronto, Ontario. She has been working on projects at major Canadian financial institutions and the Government of Ontario. Her research interests include enterprise architecture, knowledge management, IT management, IT project management, IT risk management, privacy protection, social networks and eHealth. Rubina’s scientific work has been both tested across various vertical industries and presented on peer-review international conferences.

Rubina graduated in electrical engineering in 1987 from the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and she received her PhD in computer science and engineering in 2000 from the Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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