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Mar 1 2013   3:37PM GMT

An Overview of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks

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About the Author: Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training as a Content Strategist within the Marketing department. Ed spends his days thinking up topics for surveys, article titles and concepts for engaging infographics. You can check out a range of his most recent work via the Firebrand Press Page.

In a global marketplace increasingly dominated by technology, it is now more important than ever to consider the principle of enterprise architecture. In the modern day, nearly every company, public entity and even government department now requires a strong online presence. This can range from company websites and blogs to organisation pages on social media, and that is just the beginning. Remote working using Cloud computing and VPNs are the beginning of a trend that links all business via computer systems and the Internet.

Gartner, the world’s leading IT Research and Advisory company defines enterprise architecture as:

a discipline for proactively and holistically leading enterprise responses to disruptive forces by identifying and analyzing the execution of change toward desired business vision and outcomes. EA delivers value by presenting business and IT leaders with signature-ready recommendations for adjusting policies and projects to achieve target business outcomes that capitalize on relevant business disruptions. EA is used to steer decision making toward the evolution of the future state architecture.”

Enterprise Architecture Framework

Enterprise Architecture Framework is an agreed set of standards, rules and tools used in implementing enterprise architecture.

There are three parts to architecture frameworks:

Views: these refer to the way information is communicated within the architecture, particularly regarding interactions and relationships.

Methods: the methods are formulae for ensuring that all the necessary information is gathered and used, ensuring that all contingencies and basics are covered. This helps to make certain that the architecture is completely accurate, comprehensive and have integrity.

Training and Experience: These ensure familiarity with the standards, standardised tools and structures of enterprise architecture, ensuring seamless compatibility between different systems and infrastructures.

Left unchecked, enterprise architecture could potentially become an unmanageable field, with development sprouting wildly in all directions. Architecture framework contains the development and channels it into manageable and expandable directions. Think of a climbing plant with no frame; it will grow over the ground, mingling and interfering with the growth of grass or other bedding plants, whereas with a trellis to climb up, and even be tied to if necessary the plant can reach up to the sunlight and no longer has to compete with other flora. The architecture framework acts as the ‘trellis’, guiding enterprise architecture along desirable and profitable lines, yet keeping it within a manageable structure.

Types of Architecture Framework

There are five basic types of architecture framework available at present, and this number is growing with demand. The five types are; defense industry frameworks; government frameworks; consortia based frameworks, those set up by groups and affiliations of concerned parties; open source frameworks, worked on by interested parties who share code and programming skills to achieve the finished product; and proprietary frameworks. Some examples of the five types follow:

Government: FEAF and TEAF, the Federal and Treasury Enterprise Architecture Frameworks, respectively; NORA, used by the Dutch government and GEA, used by the Queensland government

Defense Industry: MODAF and DODAF perform the same task for the British Ministry of Defense and the United States Department of Defense, the French have AGATE and the Canadians use DNDAF.

Consortia-based: TOGAF, from The Open Group is the most famous of the consortia frameworks, arguably the best known of all the frameworks. There is also EABOK, GERAM, and the IDEAS Group, the latter of whom caters to networks rather than individual entities. RA-ODP and ARCON are also the brainchildren of consortia. ‘Good enough architectural methodology’ is a system based on real-life needs and processes found in the business world, a practical solution for pragmatists.   Open-source Frameworks: SABSA, Praxeme, TRAK and MEGAF are all open source frameworks, as is the cheekily-named GOD.

Proprietary Frameworks: Information Framework, OBASHI, IAF and there are many more proprietary frameworks, some fairly small scale having been designed specifically to fulfil a certain criteria. One proprietary framework that deserves a special mention is the Zachman Framework, the oldest architecture framework – dating to conception in 1982 and fruition in 1987, the dark ages of computing! Zachman, along with TOGAF, offers a broad architecture framework, allowing for complete analysis and planning for an enterprise.

Certification for Enterprise Architects

Enterprise architects often need certification in any one of the many architecture frameworks, in order to attract job offers from the biggest companies. IT managers may have a lot of experience working with and setting in place architecture, and may find themselves needing to adhere to a framework, simply to stay on top of their job. It is for this reason that many employers looking for IT managers will ask for some kind of enterprise architecture accreditation.

Architects find it easier to work within a framework, as clear guidelines, standard tools and a clear united vocabulary mean that every aspect of the work is clearly understood.

Should you be considering a career in Enterprise Architecture, the TOGAF certification offered by the Open Group is a solid investment. TOGAF is the most widely used of Enterprise Artchitecture frameworks and so opens you to the greatest number of opportunities. If you are looking to embark on a career sooner rather than later, why not check out the 3 day TOGAF certification by Firebrand.

With a TOGAF certification behind you, you will be well on the way to a career as an Enterprise Architect. And with certified architects enjoying an average salary of £65,000 (*source – IT Jobs Watch), you can add a spring in your step.

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