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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.

"We used the TOGAF framework and since the tool supports these standards, it was a straightforward implementation. By using iServer and this deliverable-based approach, DP World was able to capture, visualise, socialise and manage its baseline EA information in a central architecture repository and collaborative environment in less than 12 weeks."

DP World also acknowledged that establishing a trained and experienced EA workforce takes time. In parallel to arranging relevant training and certification courses for DP World staff, support and guidance to collate accurate information quickly was also necessary.

DP World has seen direct and indirect benefits since implementation, Al Najjar continues, but the biggest of all is the clearer view his team now has on DP World's continuous improvement and future development.

As a key example of this, the organisation is now developing Jebel Ali Terminal 3 with completely different operation models than what is currently has. Subsequently, it needs to redefine its standards, operations and procedures, and the systems and components it requires.

To design that, it needs to build on top of what it has, which is where EA comes in.

"This EA saved us a lot of time because we already have it in place," Al Najjar says. "We just took that and from there we designed a new model for our operation.

"For us it was just one step forward towards our initiatives, but if we did not have EA in place, it would have been a massive exercise."

DP World's implementation of an EA tool stands out in the Middle East, where the technology has been lacking in awareness and understanding.

Al Najjar believes this is because the topic is broad and, to a certain extent, can be abstract to people.

"What it helps and serves is not just in one thing, but in many different aspects," he says. "EA can be a document or a foundation platform for you to build your future plans.

"It's like something that allows you to write a strategy — you want to grow and achieve things and expand, but it's not going to be possible if you do not have properly planned support. That may be what's causing the confusion about EA — people don't see the whole cycle. They don't see what other things they can do by implementing an EA tool."

Gaining traction
Whilst many anticipate the technology to gain significant traction in the Middle East, DP World is not the only firm to embrace it so far.

Ooredoo, the exclusive telecommunications provider in Qatar, and Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) are also early implementers of EA in the region.

Steven Leslie Green, Assistant Director IT Architecture and Applications, Ooredoo, says current architectures are "accidental".


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