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TOGAF: Establishing Itself As the Definitive Method for Building Enterprise Architectures in the Commercial World

  • By David Harrison and Lou Varveris
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The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) is quickly emerging as one of the most widely accepted methods for developing enterprise architecture. Originating as the Technical Architecture for Information Management (TAFIM) in the US Department of Defense, the framework was adopted by the Open Group in the mid-1990s. The first TOGAF specification was introduced in 1995, and the latest version, TOGAF 8 (the Enterprise Edition), was released early in 2004.

TOGAF is an open framework. The Open Group freely disseminates the TOGAF specification and all related documentation on its Web site, and encourages the use of it by any organization embarking on enterprise architecture. It is highly customizable, enabling companies to tailor it to their particular challenges.

The core components of TOGAF are its Architecture Development Method (ADM) and the TOGAF Foundation Architecture. The ADM defines a process for developing and maintaining the organization's enterprise architecture, and for implementing the architecture through a planned program of work. It is non-prescriptive about how to build the models that represent the architecture, and supports all standard modeling technologies, such as the Unified Modeling Language (UML), Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), and Integrated Computer-Aided Manufacturing (ICAM) DEFinition (IDEF). The Foundation Architecture describes an Enterprise Continuum through which the developing architecture progresses from the general (foundation) to the organization-specific.

What Is Enterprise Architecture and Why Are Companies Doing It?

Enterprise architecture is the capture of all behavior that goes on in an organization: the data that is processed, who does what, where everything is, and why everything is done. In a sentence, the who, what, why, when, where, and how of the business at every level from high-level corporate goals to the code of low-level programs that implement business processes used to achieve those goals.

Recent technologies have made this possible and enabled the benefits of enterprise architecture to be realized. New legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley has made it almost mandatory. Enterprise architecture is now being seen as an asset to the organization, and a key enabler for achieving alignment between business and IT.

Obstacles to Enterprise Architecture

The need for enterprise architecture has been around for a long time, but several obstacles existed, for example:

  • difficulty in disseminating the information
  • difficulty in maintaining this information
  • lack of standard tools for capturing, developing, and managing models
  • lack of a standard notation and consistent vocabulary for enterprise architecture

Enablers of Enterprise Architecture

In recent years, new technologies have arrived to help make enterprise architecture achievable:

  • Corporate intranets and the Internet offer a medium to disseminate information to everyone in the organization.
  • A new generation of enterprise architecture modeling tools, capable of:
    • supporting a broad spectrum of modeling notation;
    • providing a scalable and flexible underlying repository capable of storing and integrating models across all architecture domains;
    • offering sophisticated reporting and publication facilities.
  • The evolution of TOGAF into a framework for developing enterprise architecture. This has overcome the one remaining obstacle, the lack of a clear, practical, and well-defined approach to architecture development.

What TOGAF Is and Why Companies Are Now Starting to Use It

What makes TOGAF popular is that it is a definitive and proven step-by-step method for developing and maintaining enterprise architecture. It covers the four principal architecture domains of business, information systems (application and data), and technology infrastructure, and focuses strongly on the need for architecture to support business objectives and requirements. It also takes into account establishing the goals and objectives of the enterprise architecture effort itself, guiding users on determining how much of the enterprise is needed to model to realize significant gains, and the realities of getting buy-in from throughout the organization.

The TOGAF Framework

A number of definitions of frameworks are being used in IT today. Microsoft .NET, for example, uses the word framework to describe a large-scale code template. TOGAF and the Zachman Framework define a framework as a tool for thinking about the information that needs to be captured about an organization, to understand how everything works, and to enable the building of information systems that efficiently support the business.

The Zachman Framework is considered the granddaddy of frameworks, a reference framework against which others can position or map themselves. Zachman is method neutral and is concerned with content rather than process and does not prescribe the steps for building enterprise architectures.

TOGAF provides a detailed, step-by-step method on how to build, maintain, and implement enterprise architecture. This method is the Architecture Development Method (ADM). Unlike the Zachman rectangular grid of cells, the TOGAF graphic is dynamic—a set of circles representing the progression through the phases of the ADM and the architecture models used and created during the phases of enterprise architecture development (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: TOGAF Enterprise Framework. Source: The Open Group

These phases are navigated iteratively in a cycle. The circles represent the major phases of building and maintaining the enterprise architecture using the ADM.

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This article was originally published on June 28, 2004

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