In my two-decade career at Microsoft, leading .NET platform architecture, visual studio .NET development, application platform, enterprise strategy and Microsoft Digital, I have been part of building technologies for multiple waves of platforms: the early web, service-oriented architectures, the so-called Web 2.0, and more recently, the Cloud.
While there is no doubt that previous waves of platform technologies have delivered substantial benefits, their impact has been limited because they are “passive” stacks that serve as plumbing for applications and infrastructure. For the most part, with previous waves of platforms, cost savings have been the primary and sometimes singular quantifiable element with respect to business outcomes.
Blockchain platforms are distinctive because, for the first time in the history of computing, we have a technology platform that has an innate economic model — incentives, rewards and penalties for each entity, human and system — intrinsically “baked into” the architecture. Unlike the “inert” technology stacks of yesteryear, blockchain capabilities herald the advent of new economic platforms.
How does this disrupt enterprise IT architectures? First, a retrospective.
Looking back: Old school enterprise architecture models
The field of enterprise architecture can be said to have started in 1987 with the publication in the IBM Systems Journal of an article titled, “A framework for information systems architecture,” by John Zachman.
In his seminal paper, Zachman laid out the imperative and the challenge for enterprise architectures: the rapidly increasing IT budgets involved and the fact that the success of the enterprise was now increasingly dependent on technology necessitated a structured approach toward managing the growing complexity of IT applications and infrastructure.
There are three broad approaches to enterprise architecture:
The perspective-centric approach surfaces diverse perspectives within and across the…