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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

The silent competition between the Enterprise Architecture frameworks

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There you are. The silent competition. And it is silent because the proponents of a framework are tacitly saying that the other frameworks are no fit for purpose; that's why they came with a new one.

Let's recap. TOGAF ignores the existence of Zachman, Spewak's,... Zachman may claim to be the first but it never considered the merits of later frameworks.

Archimate is accepted in TOGAF even though it is not integrated. In fact Archimate and TOGAF appear to have different metamodels. Archimate also unnecessarily invents an own new architecture language, unlike any other framework. FEA(F) acts like there is no other framework out there. DoDAF is an industry in itself. Gartner talked about emergent EA, what is that though? And others, like Cap's IAF, E2AF and so on and so forth do pretty much the same even though they ask questions like Zachman does. Few, if any EA framework acknowledges the others. 

True, usually  in a tacit pact, framework supporters do no not denigrate each other. Business is business. But they do not recognize each other either. 

What TOGAF says, in a minor admission, is that it can be used with any other framework. But isn't TOGAF a complete framework then? What would the other framework add to TOGAF? What would a complete framework look like? How could the frameworks be so different? That also means that the training courses and certifications they come with are also very different. Does an architect trained in one framework deliver the same outcomes as an architect certified in another? How do we select then an EA architect after all? It may well be that the framework does not matter, as some says. But, in my mind, the framework represents the streamlined body of EA knowledge.

So why the competition amongst frameworks is so silent though? Maybe because there is profit to be had in this diversity. 

Still, a few practitioners, in search of the holy grail of EA, struggled to position the EA frameworks by comparison. The results are poor though, not because the studies have not put in best efforts but because the frameworks are not alike at all. TOGAF is a process mostly for solution architectures. Zachman, a structured way of thinking about constructing a system, any system for that matter. Why do we call them Enterprise Frameworks? Same reason we call Java, Enterprise Java? FEA is more like a program that chiefly describes the government services, the need to assess their performance and depict the technology implementing them. DoDAF extracts inspiration from the good old times of OO design, more than anything.

Why is that? After all, these frameworks aim to describe, improve, roadmap... the same old enterprise operation. And we would eventually all profit from comparing them and taking the valuable bits of each approach. But how many frameworks does one need? What is each framework good for? How much effort is there left for us to build an aggregated framework?  

The question also is why no organisation takes leadership, in studying the existing frameworks, noting down what they essentially deliver, how can we combine them or select the best bits of most for one quintessential framework. But there is no authority to regulate the EA domain. 

Or why not coming with a definition and components of a true EA framework starting from scratch,  with a basic definition like Wikipedia gives: a framework is like "scaffolding, a structure used as a guide to build something"; or it is like a "chassis, a vehicle's framework". and then see what existing framework bits fit in.

And last but not least. An architect could be trusted to construct a building, plan, a town etc. But could we trust an enterprise architect to deliver an EA given this profusion of methods for building it? Would the architect deliver what we expect? Probably not. Most of the time EA architects deliver and review solution architectures, but having been doing that for a few systems, they are called architects with Enterprise wide reach, that is Enterprise Architects. Same as with Enterprise Java.

Perhaps because of this state of affairs, there is no reluctance anymore to loudly express opinions on EA, even  when one's knowledge and experience in the matter is inappropriate, to say the least. 

That being said you may find here a "critique" of a few better known frameworks and here a comparison of business process frameworks, both by this author.

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Good stuff, Adrian. Thank you!

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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