A Framework for Enterprise Architectures

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To say that establishing a cohesive enterprise architecture is complicated is like saying the Titanic was a really big ship. More often than not, architectures tend to evolve along vendor-driven parameters that may or may not be in the best interests of the enterprise.


The Open Group is looking to change that with a new framework designed to guide enterprises into more effective architectural planning. The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) was originally established in 1995 in conjunction with U.S. Department of Defense. It seeks to create a detailed method and set of supporting tools for enterprise architecture development with an eye toward streamlining IT operations, producing a better return on investment and simplifying the hardware and software procurement process.


The latest version of the document (Ver. 9.0) spells out four types of architectures that modern enterprises typically employ. The Business Architecture covers things like strategy, governance and key business processes. The Data Architecture describes logical and physical assets and management tools. The Application Architecture lays out applications and their relationships to core business processes. The Technology Architecture establishes the hardware and software needed to support data and application services, such as IT infrastructure, middleware, networks and communications elements.


The group is mounting a new pitch to foster TOGAF in North America, which so far has given it a chilly reception. At a recent webinar sponsored by EAdirections, the group learned that less than half the participants use TOGAF at all, and only 16.4 percent of participants who do use it rely on it as their primary EA framework. Even worse, only about 11 percent of users reported TOGAF as "very effective," although the satisfaction level tended to rise as usage increased.


Clearly, the group has some work to do. The sheer variety of enterprise requirements makes a blanket architecture framework a difficult target to hit. But by laying the groundwork, there's hope that enterprises may soon have a neutral voice in their corner to help guide them through the dicey world of architectural design.


A podcast of the webinar is available here.