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Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking with Allen Brown, president of the Open Group regarding the latest TOGAF release. Thanks to Allen and his team for taking the time to chat about the new aspects of TOGAF 9. All the details of this release will be available today on the Open Group website. Additionally, there will be a great deal of information given out at the 21st Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference.

I will share with all of you the highlights of the conversation. I will not be able to give a full analysis of the framework. Rather, touching on the major components, impressions, opinions, areas of improvement and concerns.

At version 9 there is quite a bit that is new. For the Open Group this is a significant milestone for TOGAF. Before we get into what’s new, lets look at current momentum behind TOGAF to date.

  • TOGAF has more than 90,000 downloads. All documentation for TOGAF is published online. While this doesn’t tell us that there are 90,000 people using TOGAF, but what it does tell us is that there is significant interest in what TOGAF has to offer.
  • This year there are over 8,491 certified practitioners. This is largely due to the how architects are certified in TOGAF. The Open Group has a franchise model that allows independent trainers and companies to certify architects. This is a brilliant way of certifying architects as it doesn’t force everyone going through the Open Group channel directly.
  • Grew 529% since October 2006, which also includes a solid stake in 80% of the Fortune 50.
  • More than 180 corporate members of The Open Group Architecture Forum
  • Over 20,000 TOGAF™ series books shipped
  • The online forum Association of Open Group Enterprise Architects has had a significant impact and it membership is at more than 8,500

What’s New in TOGAF 9

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Below are the new features of TOGAF 9. The bolded text is what was provided by the Open Group. The regular text is my commentary on it.

  1. Modular structure – I am a firm believer that enterprise processes are modular pieces that should be orchestrated based on the specific set of concerns. It is good to see that TOGAF feels the same way.
  2. Promotes greater usability & encourages incremental adoption – This is somewhat lofty and subject largely to implementation details. I do agree that the guidance provided does promote reusability. This is reinforced with the first bullet on the modular structure.
  3. Supports evolutionary release management -
  4. Content framework – This is a significant step in the right direction. The content framework provides architects with a map of information that is needed. From what I have seen so far there isn’t a great amount of detail here. But I am sure there is more to come.
  5. Extended guidance on using TOGAF – The TOGAF book was expanded greatly with new guidance that extends the base concepts of TOGAF and supports new features.
  6. Explicit consideration of architectural styles – In the guidance there are linkages between the TOGAF ADM and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). I am hoping that this isn’t a tight coupling. If you are interested in my thoughts on architectural styles I wrote a post on this not too long ago. See the post What is an Architecture Style?  
  7. SOA and Security – This could be interesting. But only if done right. The Open Group needs to be careful at balancing out too much in the developer details (what OASIS & W3C provides) and high level / nebulous guidance (Analyst firms) that isn’t actionable. What could be of great value is if the Open Group embarked on true architectural patterns and styles that would aid SOA and EA architects on choosing the right architectural strategies.
  8. Further detail added to the Architecture Development Method (ADM)

What Architects Will Care About

My first thought after talking with Allen and his team was just how much there is to the new framework. It is obvious to that there are positive contributions from the new members within the past couple of years. Below are the ones that you will want to know about/

1. The Content Framework

One such member is Cap Gemini. Cap Gemini donated most of the Architecture Content Framework. In my opinion, this was long overdue.

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Content framework provides:

  • Linkages and the information that is needed in the Architecture Development Method (ADM)
  • Defines the work products that are needed
  • Classifies information and shows high level relations. In the documentation it states there is a metamodel but I did not see one. There are high level entities defined but didn’t robust metamodel definition.
  • More information is provided in the Architectural Principles, Requirements and Vision areas

2. Better ADM Guidance

The augmented crop circle diagram is a great example of new guidance that will aid architects in implementing TOGAF.

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Other ways guidance is extended are:

  • Applying iteration to the ADM
  • Applying the ADM at different enterprise levels
  • Security architecture and the ADM
  • Using TOGAF to define and govern SOA

 

3. Restructured Modular Approach

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The image above shows how the pieces of the existing standard have been restructured and have additional aspects. With the restructure existing pieces where used to ensure backward compatibility with TOGAF 8.1.1. Specifically it preserves:

  • The core Architecture Development Method
  • Existing investment in people - knowledge and skills
  • Existing investment in tools

4. Architecture Modeling Notations and Architecture Markup

While I didn’t find mention of Archimate and ADML in the pre-release TOGAF 9 documentation I did however have a conversation with the Open Group folks about Archimate. It turns out that ADML and Archimate is converging and will be part of TOGAF 9. I would share more details but I just don’t have them. I do think that this important to keep an eye on.

If you are interested in my previous conversations regarding Archimate and TOGAF 9 you can find the post “ArchiMate - The Emerging Architecture Modeling Standard?” I wrote a few months back.

5. Playing Well With Others

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It’s good to see that collaboration with other standards bodies and commentary frameworks is still encouraged. This is critical for the long term success of any Enterprise Architecture Framework.

6. Community Driven

TOGAF 9 was developed, reviewed and approved by a collaborative of 300 members from some of the world’s leading IT customers and vendors. One example of the contributions is Capgemini:

Mike Turner, TOGAF Development Lead at Capgemini explained: “We consider an architecture-based approach to be essential for enterprises to manage change across business and IT, even more in a period of downturn in which tangible business outcomes come first. The open standard nature of TOGAF allows our clients to truly collaborate with their partners in the definition and management of change by using shared concepts, content, processes and tools. TOGAF 9 is a huge step forward, particularly because it standardizes and materializes the content that architects work with. We were most happy to contribute to it, leveraging much of Capgemini’s established and widely respected architecture assets.”

 

Areas that Need Work

With the good comes the bad and in this case there wasn’t anything bad, just areas that I will be looking forward to see more progress on. Below are those areas of opportunity for TOGAF v-next.

1. Processes are Abstract

Many of the areas still seem to be very high level. While this is what I like about TOGAF, it is also a liability. I have seen the same issues in other standards bodies where the standard is so abstract it isn’t useful. I don’t think that is the cases here but what I do know is that it is subject to interpretation which can result in poor execution of the framework.

2. Metadata Repository

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There still is a great deal of definition that needs to be done here. The first level of detail is good, there are linkages to the ADM and Content Framework but there is little in the area of real world implementation. I couldn’t find any schemas that would help companies build a repository in compliance with TOGAF.

The Open Group might be relying on vendors to define this for the industry. That can be problematic however.

 

3. Making the Framework Actionable

Getting started with any new framework is difficult. I was hoping with this latest release that there would be accelerators that would aid architects adopt the TOGAF framework. As I mentioned many times, TOGAF is a process framework that is abstract from a lot of the implementation details but I think it is time for the framework to become more grounded and more importantly provide immediate value through accelerators like:

  • Templates
  • Checklists
  • Samples

4. Metamodels too High Level

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TOGAF 9 does a great job at exploring the architecture metamodel at a high level. There needs to be a level or two deeper of consideration here. I was looking for more detail on:

  • interaction between the architectural domains
  • composition of the domains themselves
  • non-functional requirements called out specifically
  • organizational aspects spelled out such as geography, LOB, business unit/division, etc.

5. Limited Taxonomy and Ontology Defined

The framework has elements of a taxonomy and even borrows from some like IEEE 1471 but doesn’t have an all encompassing taxonomy to describe the structure nor an ontology to define information in that structure.

This isn’t a deal breaker for the framework. There are multiple areas where there are less formalized (from a taxonomy / ontology perspective) definitions throughout the documentation.

 

Conclusion

Whether you are using TOGAF in your organization or not TOGAF 9 is definitely a framework you want to evaluate. I didn’t find anything that was negative about TOGAF 9. Even though there are some gaps and some areas that could be more developed the bits that are refined were really good. Keep in mind that the focus for TOGAF is still mostly at the process level and dealing at a high level of abstraction should be expected.

 

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