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Enterprise Architecture Tools Spotlight Technology's Big Picture

While the economy faltered in recent years, the focus of IT at many businesses was on cost-cutting. Now, companies are taking a more strategic view of the future, and they're looking for IT to keep them agile as they transform and grow.

With this trend comes a heightened focus on enterprise architecture, especially tools that can help a company identify how short-term plans for new systems and applications can affect its processes throughout the organization now and in the future.

Some companies have deployed tools that provide a window into how new projects or applications can affect other projects, applications, systems, and processes. "They want to understand the impact of ideas and initiatives on other functions," says George Paras, VP of strategy at Troux Technologies, a developer of enterprise planning, architecture, IT governance, and portfolio-management tools.

Tools from vendors like Troux, Telelogic, and others help companies connect the dots. For many years, modeling and CASE tools have helped companies automate the process of developing new applications so they can be tested before deployed within a company, but the focus of new enterprise architecture tools is to provide an inventory of processes, technologies, applications, and systems in a company. "You can see where all your stuff is," says Robert Hander, VP of research at Gartner. Many portfolio-management products in the past tended to be siloed for business-process reengineering, he says.

Warner Bros. uses Visio tools from Troux to get a better handle on the multidimensional nature of its IT projects, applications, and business processes. The company is made up of a lot of different businesses, including television, music, character licensing, cable TV, and free TV. But each business is a P&L center with its own challenges.

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