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The Benefits of Enterprise Architecture Methodologies

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Friday, I wrote about TOGAF, an open standard for starting and running an enterprise architecture (EA). I’ve written about it several times, and I realized that if you’re not familiar with EA methodologies, you might think that’s the only one.

It is not. Although TOGAF is popular and perhaps more discussed than most EA frameworks, it’s actually one of 20 or 21 EA frameworks — depending on how you count SAP’s EA Framework, which extends TOGAF with more support for service-oriented architecture and off-the-shelf software.

There are several well-known standards. For instance, the Zachman Framework originated at IBM during the 1980s and is still very popular. TOGAF even offers a map to the Zachman Framework, as a way of translating to those who are more familiar with how Zachman works.

ArchiMate is another standard you’ll hear about it, but it’s more of a modeling language for enterprise architecture than a framework. It’s an open and vendor-independent standard that came out of the Netherlands more than a decade ago. ArchiMate has since been transferred to The Open Group.

IBM, SAP, the UK Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Federal Enterprise Architecture, Capgemini, the DOD and other analysts and government groups also claim their versions of enterprise architecture. You can see a more complete list, with descriptions and links, at the end of Wikipedia’s entry on TOGAF.

Okay, it’s great that there are lots of choices for an EA framework or methodology. But do you really need something that formal?

Perhaps not — but why reinvent the wheel, asks Mike J. Walker, an enterprise architecture and editor-in-chief of Microsoft’s Enterprise Architecture Portal.

“As far as methodologies go, it’s usually better not to reinvent the wheel. There are already proven general frameworks EAs can use, so try to leverage what is already out there whenever possible,” Walker wrote in a blog post on TOGAF, which he uses. “Using a framework like TOGAF can ensure that you are not missing the critical steps, questions and outcomes that every good architecture should have. This will also ensure that all the other architecture work and this work is consistent and predictable with the outcomes it produces.”

Those critical issues include integration issues and enterprise-wide data management, which is why I’m interested in EA.

A framework can help whether you’re doing traditional EA or EA that incorporates a cloud strategy, he explains. In fact, it can be particularly useful for cloud, because you can draw on broad community support for problems, as well as access resources and any cloud standards bodies that might be associated with that standard.

For instance, he notes, The Open Group has worked to unite various deep cloud standards bodies and other specialized standards groups with the TOGAF standard.

If you’re unconvinced, Walker’s post and blog are great resources for understanding more about enterprise architecture methodologies.

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