Thank you everyone who took the time to respond to my question. Reading the responses has been very insightful and a bit humbling.
I appreciate those of you who called out my tone, pointed out that I'm a whiner and even insinuated that I am not qualified for the position. What would an "Ask Slashdot" post be without one or two snide comments along the lines of, "If you have to ask slashdot, you're obviously an idiot."?
I came to the community as humbly as I could because I realized that my own ego was likely getting in the way, my understanding of what the position is might be skewed, and needing a reality check. I got it.
There were way too many questions and comments along the way to address them all individually. (tl;dr feel free to skip the rest) I will try to respond to most of them here. I hope that by providing some background about my professional experiences and how I got to where I am, others who are on a similar path will gain some insights.
A lot of people had questions about the company itself, its size, the VM to user ratios, infrastructure and other questions. Without spending all day writing about it, the company is included in the Russell 2000 Index. That makes it "medium" sized here in the States. It is a consulting company and we frequently bid (and occasionally win) jobs for the same organizations that KPMG, Deloitte and PriceWaterhouseCoopers go after. My five years at the company have been spent working in the legal technology segment. We provide electronic discovery services to some of the largest organizations in the world. Most of the VMs are application / processing VMs that churn through large batch jobs. (Think producing TIFF files of tens of millions of emails, Office documents, etc. from a large corporation involved in a dispute. Think Enron. Getting caught rigging LIBOR. Creating MBS products that send the economy into a recession...). We also have a number of SaaS solutions for that market.
The IT organization has an ITIL compliant change management process. I deal with auditors frequently. Due to the nature of litigations we are holding onto reams of personally identifiable information, confidential information, privileged information. We deal with large financial sector clients who are subjected to all of the regulations. We deal with health care clients who are subjected to all of the regulations. As irksome as auditors are, I have found that they truly do help us elevate our operations and we have been able to use audits to get capital for systems that we otherwise would have never been able to justify on our own.
When I say that the IT group was traditionally internally facing, they were. They deploy laptops, manage remote offices, keep Exchange running. Their customers are internal to the business. The prior CIO (who was moved out a few years ago) failed to properly size the "cloud" (kill me now for even using that term). Our operations completely outstripped the resources available and required millions of dollars of additional investments in storage (primarily) and compute resources. It was such a large investment that there were even rumors of the business divesting itself of the practice entirely rather than spending the money.
Before I got to my current company, I was a consultant in the (truly) small to medium sized business (SMB) market. (1-250 employees) In that life I was the primary IT resource for small companies where I did everything from design to deployment to operational support. I worked with everyone from architectural firms, to city governments, to waste management companies, 501c3 non-profits, air freight shippers, restaurants, manufacturers (things are still made in America?!?) ... a very diverse client base. I have been working with IT systems professionally since 1996 and using and building my own computers since the early 90s. (The first computer I built myself was a 486DX2/66. I am not as grey bearded as some here, but old enough to have used a 2400 baud modem and typed faster than the terminal program could transmit.)
My professional identity has been based on a mixture of my ability to deploy IT solutions, troubleshoot complex performance / availability problems, and to a lesser extent, understand the needs of an organization enough to provide the right solution for any given business challenge. I have always had full access to my environments and been completely trusted.
I am being offered the Enterprise Architect role because I have been doing the job for the practice I support. We are facing all of the challenges. "Big Data" (again, sorry about the buzzword ... Hadoop/HDFS, ElasticSearch, LogStash, blah blah blah) is a huge challenge. VDI / device agnostic computing is huge for us not just for the 'mobile workforce' nonsense, but also for data security and access control reasons. The team I work with has brought numerous great capabilities into the environment, with automated provisioning, application performance monitoring (true end-to-end transactional visibility across the entire stack), and desired state configuration being some of the biggest.
Before my team got in there, and in some cases outside of our practice, the core IT group is still provisioning VMs by hand and logging into them via RDP to install software manually. To give you an idea of how insane things are, they will not give my team access to vCenter to reset a frozen VM, but they let us develop a PowerShell constrained endpoint that we can programatically pass a machine name variable to via System Center that will reset a VM ... after we have submitted a change ticket and waited 30+ minutes for it breach the SLA before escalating it upwards for approval. But the guys who are building VMs by hand have full, unfettered to vCenter. The vCenter that does not even have DRS turned on because the guy who set it up thinks it is "too unpredictable". The vCenter where large VMs are stepping on each other at the host level because anti-affinity rules are "unnecessarily complex".
Everything mentioned in the paragraph above is indicative of the challenges I am going to face. People are feeling threatened. I am being brought in to guide the expansion of what we have developed for our practice, across the entire organization. People who have had years to get things right are going to be given one last chance to get it right.
That is not to say that everything is doom and gloom. I have a great team of almost half a dozen guys who I can rely on. There are people elsewhere in the organization who know what they are doing as well. It is going to be a huge challenge helping people develop better skills and discard old, ineffective ways of getting things done.
I realize that the EA position a great opportunity and I am going to take it. It is going to require a mindset adjustment. I am the kind of person and kind of manager who has never asked anyone to do anything that I am not willing and capable of doing myself. I ended up with a team of competent people because I had more to do than I could handle on my own, I realized that, and I asked for help. In a way, I feel guilty. It seems almost douchey. It is like that old axiom, "The higher up you get, the less real work you do." The EA position just seems too good to be true in that I am going to be responsible for so much, but not operationally accountable for implementing or supporting them.
Thank you all again for taking the time to respond. I do not have any peers in close physical proximity who are working at this level, and I really appreciate those of you who offered up your insights about the realities of IT in a larger organization.