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The spaghetti incident: How enterprise architecture is helping the Middle East take control of its IT

Ben Rossi | June 12, 2013
In 2009, DP World in the UAE decided to set up its own IT department separate from the shared services the global organisation operates. But with the inheritance of systems and technologies came the realisation of inconsistencies and redundancies. It turned to an enterprise architecture (EA) tool to obtain a complete view of its IT.

In the short period of time since DP World was formed in 2005, the organisation has grown to one of the largest ports operators in the world, with a portfolio of over 65 terminals across six continents and a staff of 28,000.

For years, the IT operations of DP World in the UAE were supported by the ITC (Information Technology Centre), the IT back bone for DP World's parent company, Dubai World.

However, in 2009, DP World UAE decided to set up its own department to be responsible for all IT functions, and thus be independent of the ITC.

With this transition came immediate challenges, explains Ibrahim Al Najjar, Manager, IT Planning and Support System, DP World.

"When we started to deploy our IT, we inherited many services, systems and technologies, but we did not really have a proper view of the whole picture and how they inter-relate," Al Najjar says. "We had inconsistencies, redundant systems doing the same things, and systems using different technologies that were not coherent of what we wanted in the future."

In order to achieve such a view across its entire IT functions, DP World wanted to define its enterprise architecture (EA) and identify all the components that made up its IT services.

Furthermore, the organisation had many initiative in its roadmap for the future, which required a clear understanding of what was happening across its IT so it could build on top of it.

This need for DP World to know its EA inspired the decision to implement a relevant tool, thus signalling a selection process to find the right vendor for the project.

"We followed our normal procurement process where we tender it out to multiple vendors with our requirements and then we review their proposals, and go with whichever fits our requirements technically and commercially," Al Najjar says.

Following this process, the contract was awarded jointly to Orbus and its Middle East partner, HTP Global Technologies. The chosen solution was Orbus Software's iServer Enterprise Architect with TOGAF 9 'out-of-the-box' accelerator and Application Portfolio Management (APM) extension.

"We went with Orbus mainly because they met our requirements and the proposal from them offered us the least transition from our current practice because they use the same tools we are familiar with," Al Najjar explains.

From negotiation and procurement to implementation, it took a couple of months, but the tool was just one stage of the whole exercise. Before that, DP World did an intensive study, which was not with Orbus, to identify all the components of its architecture.

The tool itself went live at the end of 2010, which Al Najjar says was a smooth implementation because the initial work was done.


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