As Forrester’s EA tools analyst specialist, I am regularly receiving inquiries from EA teams that are encountering trouble choosing the "single repository of truth" for the entire enterprise. Generally, they are oscillating between two products after a long decision process, hesitating in many cases because no one product is able to satisfy all the architects: the EAs, the solution architects, and sometimes the business architects. One product satisfies some architects and not the others, and vice versa; in the end, choosing one single product would not satisfy anyone because for each option that will satisfy a few, some will not use it (generally, for good reason), and it will not give others the information they require to do their job. Therefore, for these EA teams, the dream of getting a "single repository of truth" is becoming a nightmare. I encounter this sort of dilemma in half of the inquiries I receive about EA tools and particularly within the largest companies.

My answers are sometimes difficult for these EA teams to hear:

  • First: Do all team members agree on EA objectives for the next two to three years? Do all architects know and share the same IT objectives and priorities? If EA and IT objectives/priorities are not clear, it is not surprising that they want different tools, because a universal EA tool does not really exist at this time. The recent document I published about the EA management suite as a third generation of EA tools explains how the most recent two generations complement each other.
  • Second: The dream of a single EA repository should probably remain a dream at the moment. Even in the longer term, it is better to think about building a series of repositories and interfaces between them to support the industrialization of IT as well as to allow IT to participate in APM, PPM, COBIT, COSO, CMMI, ITIL, and other IT best practices. The next document I am preparing with Gene Leganza about metadata architecture will bring more on this subject.

If you faced this problem in the past or if you are currently facing this dilemma at the moment, please share your experience and how you solve the debate internally by commenting on this blog post.