Architecture Modeling tools to ensure Enterprise Architecture Governance
Enterprise architecture (EA) has become essential to make efficient use of technology and address the business needs and maintain the competitive advantage. The expectations from EA include technology / tools rationalization, support business strategy, increasingly agile and flexible IT, improved interoperability and reduced TCO.
EA governance refers to the framework that ensures the integrity and effectiveness of the organization’s architectures. The framework broadly covers the governance activities of Adoption, Compliance, Dispensation and Retirement. Establishing the framework typically involves:
- establishing processes to support management of architectural activities
- implementing a system to ensure to ensure compliance with internal and external standards and regulatory obligations
- Capturing and managing all relevant architectural artefacts – architectural models (architecture continuum), approved product and technology set (solutions continuum) and architecture contracts
EA of an organization can begin using a wide-range of tools:
1. Office Automation tools like MS-Office
2. Diagramming tools like Visio
3. Knowledge Management tools like Lotus Notes
4. Comprehensive Architecture modeling tools.
With the growing pace of EA adoption and the increasing number of technology alternatives, enterprise architecture governance is becoming more and more complex. It is becoming mandatory that all technology investments are mapped to business processes and requirements justifying the appropriateness of the same. With this focus shift to a holistic approach to EA, use of Architecture modeling tools become a necessity.
Compared to other options like diagramming tools, comprehensive “Architecture modeling tools” provide functions for Analysis and optimization of business activities, processes, information, application as well as technology. Consolidating the business artifacts to a single standardized repository is expected to provide leaping benefits.
Various EA tools are available in the market that support modeling, storing, sharing and managing EA. Two major categories of EA tools exist:
- EA Repository Tools – EA bottom-up approach aimed at providing a enterprise global view based on business processing and development models already available – Simple repositories suffice as they just have to store models from different tools and provide a global view; Should support various format enabling exchange of information. EA Web Modeler, Rochade, Troux etc. fall under this category.
- EA Modeling Suite – EA top-down approach where the EA modeling is done at enterprise level from business, information, application, technology and infrastructure perspective. – Should be able to get UMLs, data models etc. and store in a common area in a standard format; Used for Storing, maintaining and managing EA models – to be used by architects, developers, project managers, CIO etc. System Architect, ARIS, Metis, Visible Advantage etc. fall under this category.
EA modeling suite provides the conceptual view of business and information flows, process and data models (as against just the physical and logical views provided by development tools that include modeling – e.g., Rational Rose, Visual .Net etc.). It has to be seen as business analyst tool – rather than development tool.
In addition to the standard characteristics of the tool, the following are the factors to be considered for tool selection:
- Available platforms
- Graphical user interface to model business activity, information, data structures, applications that support business processes
- Multi-user support
- Interoperability between EA modeling suite and Development tool suite is essential to enable seamless integration. Should have import/export capability
- Support for the chosen Enterprise Architecture Frameworks like Zachman, TOGAF, DoDAF etc.
- Support for required modeling methods – IDEF, Class models, data models, Information models etc.
- Ease of use
- Vendor support
- Cost – initial and maintenance and licensing modes
- Traceability to requirements and other architecture artifacts
- Configuration Management support
At times, organizations do have some of these high end tools (like ARIS) in place, but limit to their usage to just store models. Before making any purchase decision, the possibility of exploiting the existing tools effectively should be explored.