Enterprise Architecture Body of Knowledge
Developing an EA

Reference Models and Architectures

The recognition, codification, and use (reuse) of generalized artifacts is an approach used to great advantage in traditional engineering disciplines, where they are typically called conventional designs. The approach is being used in the EA community as well, expressed in a variety of concepts and terms that include reference model, reference architecture, domain architecture, product line architecture, architecture pattern, and architecture style. What these have in common is that they are deliberately defined at a general level that applies to multiple enterprises or architectures. They facilitate the development of a specific EA by providing common entities, functions, relations, and concepts or terms that can be tailored and specialized to the context and purpose of a particular enterprise architecture. The EA community is still in the process of reaching consensus on definitions of these artifacts and the distinctions between them.

A reference architecture is a generalized architecture that can be specialized to a particular architecture such as an enterprise architecture, a system architecture, or a software architecture. A reference architecture or EA can be based on one or more reference models. A general example of a reference architecture is the Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology (GERAM), which also comprises a framework and methodology. Reference architectures can also be defined for specific domains and are sometimes called domain architectures.

The development of a specific EA can make use of any of these generalized artifacts. All of them help in various ways to avoid having to create a whole EA from scratch and help leverage the knowledge and experience that went into the formation and definition of the generalized models, architectures, and patterns.

This topic area includes guidance, research, case studies, sample artifacts, and other references that can provide the EA practitioner with a starting point for development of an EA that builds on work that has been done before.

Further Reading

  1. ISO (2011). Systems and Software engineering Architecture Description, ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010:2011
  2. IFIP-IFAC Task Force, (2013). Generalized Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology
  3. DoD CIO (2014), DoD Reference Architecture Description
  4. Ring, S., (2015) Role of Reference Architectures
Developing an EA