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Foundations of EA

Historical Perspectives

Authors: Rich McCarthy, PhD, and Leila Halawi, DBA

The Enterprise Architecture (EA) discipline has its roots in the 1960’s. It advanced out of the development of various architectural manuscripts on Business Systems Planning (BSP) by Professor Dewey Walker. John Zachmann was a Walker’s student and formulated into Enterprise Architecture. Both Walker and Zachman worked at IBM.

It started receiving attention in the late 1980’s after Zachman published an article explaining a framework for information systems architectures in the IBM Systems Journal in 1987. As a discipline, Enterprise Architecture (EA) is still rather underdeveloped.

Since it’s inception, Zachman Framework is the most widely used enterprise architecture framework. The framework defines a logical construct to specify the interfaces and system components for an enterprise in an information technology environment. It also provides a standardized method for considering all infrastructure components. The framework utilizes a two dimensional grid to describe the information, business and technical flows. Data, function, network, people, time and motivation are the columns within the framework. They help describe the business requirements of an organization. The framework successfully combines people, data and technology to show a comprehensive view of the inter-relationships within an information technology organization. It is driven by business requirements and although some specific artifacts are suggested (e.g., data dictionary), it does not contain the formalized documentation structure of other frameworks, such as the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF) or the Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF). It presents a comprehensive picture of an entire enterprise from the perspectives of owner, designer and builder. This permits analysis on the basis of WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHERE information is used (Zachman, 1987).

Zachman and Soya (1992) unveiled the second iteration of the framework. This version added aspects like people, time and purpose.

Neaga and Harding (2005) further described the Zachman Framework as a conceptual methodology that describes how all specific architectures could be integrated into a single comprehensive enterprise architecture. Their perspective suggests Zachman Framework as a model to develop other frameworks.

The Zachman Framework differs from other architectural frameworks in its independent, holistic view of the enterprise. The Zachman Framework is neutral with respect to methodology, process, and technology, including the breadth of scope – the boundary of concern for the enterprise- to handle all areas of the enterprise. This is true even when deliverable products are not software-oriented.

Serving as the foundation for almost all modern enterprise architecture frameworks, Zachman’s model presents a design and map for securing alignment of all IT resources. Rightly so, since the inception of the Zachman Framework, many frameworks have emerged.

Stephen Spewak’s book Enterprise Architecture Planning (EAP) defines a model for defining information systems architectures and addresses the planning components needed to implement architectures It utilizes a top-down mission driven approach.

The TOGAF framework, developed by the Open Group began in the 1990’s utilizing a technical blueprint approach but has more recently expanded to emphasis the need to view Enterprise Architecture as a means to support organizational strategy.

With the passage of the Clingler-Cohen act of 1996, there was increased emphasis placed on the use of enterprise architecture frameworks by the U.S. federal government. The two mostly widely known government frameworks include The Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF) and the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework (FEAF).

Multiple types of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks exist, many of them influenced by frameworks like Zachman, FEAF and TOGAF:

Other Commonly Used Frameworks:

  • AGATE (France)
  • European Space Agency Architectural Framework (ESAAF)
  • Extended Enterprise Architecture Framework (EEAF)
  • FDIC Enterprise Architecture Framework
  • Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology (GERAM)
  • Government Enterprise Architecture (GEA) –(Australia)
  • ISO 19439 Framework for enterprise modelling
  • Ministry of Defence Architecture Framework (MODAF) – (United Kingdom)
  • NATO Architecture Framework (NAF)
  • Nederlandse Overheid Referentie Architectuur (NORA) – (Netherlands)
  • NIST Enterprise Architecture Model
  • Purdue Enterprise Reference Architecture (PERA)
  • SAP Enterprise Architecture Framework
  • Treasury Enterprise Architecture Framework (TEAF)

Additional frameworks are available on the Enterprise architecture framework.

Further Reading

  1. Zachman, J (1982) Business Systems Planning and Business Information Control Study: A comparison ,IBM Systems Journal, 21(1). 32.
  2. Zachman, J and Sowa, J. (1992) Extending and formalising the framework of information systems architecture. IBM Systems Journal, 31 (3), 590-616
  3. Circular A-130: Managing Information as a Strategic Resource, Office of Management and Budget, 2017
  4. Neaga, E. & Harding, J. (2005, March). An enterprise modeling and integration framework based on knowledge discovery and data mining, International Journal of Production Research, 43(6), 1089-1108.
  5. North, W., North, J., Benade, S., (2004) Information Management and Enterprise Architecture Planning, Problems and Perspectives in Management.
  6. Oracle, Oracle Enterprise Architecture Framework (2012): Information Architecture Domain, White paper in Enterprise Architecture.

 EABOK is an evolving knowledge base and more information will be released as available.

In addition to the EABOK Board members, the content is also contributed by the following MITRE employees:

  • Carla Kendrick
  • Brenda Yu
  • Eddie Wang
  • Rose Tykinski
  • Wakar Khan
  • Mike Russell




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