The Open Group, a vendor- and technology-neutral consortium, in early February delivered TOGAF 9, an enterprise architecture framework. TOGAF 9 represents a departure for enterprise architecture frameworks in general.
It’s larger, more mature, and modular to allow folks to enter it from a variety of perspectives. It takes on a much more significant business services and accomplishments perspective.
While IT practitioners and architects will be looking over TOGAF 9 deeply, it’s also going to be of interest to the business side of the enterprise and offers a way for them to understand more about how IT can service their business needs.
To gain deeper insights into how IT architects can bring value to businesses, I recently interviewed two TOGAF experts Robert Weisman, CEO and principal consultant for Build The Vision, and Mike Turner, an enterprise architect at Capgemini.
Listen to the podcast (11:53 minutes).
Here are some excerpts:
Robert Weisman: I can see architecture being an integral part of the business planning process. It structures the business plans and makes sure that the objectives are realizable. In other words, we can use the acronym SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realizable and time-bound. What TOGAF 9 does is provide an overarching vision and capability with which to cooperate.
Mike Turner: I see architecture as a set of tools and techniques that can help you achieve what you want to do as a business. Taking architecture in isolation is not necessarily going to achieve the right things for your organization, because you actually need to have the direction as an input for architecture to support achievement of a particular outcome.
Architecture is really a vital tool for being able to assure that the correct business outcome is achieved. You need to have a structured approach to how you define the problem space that businesses are facing, then define the solution space, and define how you move from where you are right now to where you want to be.
Weisman: TOGAF 9, first of all, is more business focused. Before that it was definitely in the IT realm, and IT was essentially defined as hardware and software. The definition of IT in TOGAF 9 is the lifecycle management of information and related technology within an organization. It puts much more emphasis on the actual information, its access, presentation, and quality, so that it can provide not only transaction processing support, but analytical processing support for critical business decisions.
The gestation took five years. I’ve been part of the forum for five years working on the TOGAF 9. Part of the challenge was that we had such an incredible take up of TOGAF 8. Once a standard has been taken up, you can’t change it on a dime. You don’t want to change it on a dime, but you want to keep it dynamic, update it, and incorporate best practices. That would explain some of the gestation period. TOGAF 8 was very successful, and to get TOGAF 9 right, it was a little longer cycle, but I think it’s been well worth the wait.
Turner: If you look at the industry in general, we’re going through a process where the IT industry is maturing and becoming more stable, and change is becoming more incremental in the industry. What you see in architecture frameworks is a cycle of discovery, invention and then consolidation that follows, as consensus is reached.
One thing that’s really key about TOGAF 9 is that it takes a lot of ideas and practices that exist within individual organizations or proprietary frameworks, building a consensus around it, and releasing it into a public-domain context.
Once that happens, the value you can get from that approach increases exponentially. Now, you’re not talking about going to one vendor and having to deal with one particular set of concepts, and then going to a different vendor and having to deal with another set of concepts, and dealing with the interoperability between those.
You’re in a situation where the industry agrees this is the way to do things. Suddenly, the economies of scale that you can get from that, as all the participants in the industry starts to converge on that consensus, mean that you get a whole set of new opportunities about how you can use architecture.
Weisman: TOGAF 9 is, in certain ways, an evolutionary change and in certain other ways a revolutionary change. The architecture development methodology has basically remained similar. However, transforming the architecture from concept into a reality has basically been expanded pretty dramatically, with a great many lessons learned. So, architecture transformation is a large one. Various architectural frameworks have been incorporated into it.
A great many concepts that allow enterprise architecture to be molded with operations management, with system design, portfolio management, business planning, and the Governance Institute’s COBIT guidelines and other industry standards have also been incorporated into TOGAF.
Also, there’s been a major contribution by such companies as Capgemini, with respect to artifacts and structure. The content meta model is a huge contribution.
The term SOA is old wine in new bottles. It’s been around for a long time. If you just have a service catalog, if you have duplicate services, it becomes very evident. That’s one of the advantages of the repositories — you can have an insight into what you actually have.
TOGAF, from its outset in the early 1990s, has been service oriented for that. Just by applying TOGAF, you have a chance of doing your Gap Analysis, of having the visibility into what you have, which makes it not only efficient, but effective from a business perspective.
Turner: TOGAF allows you to understand what makes your business good and then identify what your services are in a way that considers all the different angles. Once that’s defined, you can then put the right technology underneath that to realize what the business is actually looking for. That’s something that can have an absolutely transformational effect on your business.
Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Disclosure: The Open Group sponsored this podcast.