It’s just a standard day in San Diego. That is to say, the friendly people over here are kind of used to blue skies and summer temperatures at the beginning of February. On the other hand, these days are quite special. The Open Group just released version 9 of TOGAF (The Open Group Architectural Framework) at its first 2009 conference, and I am convinced that we are witnessing nothing less than a breakthrough in the world of Enterprise and IT Architecture. Consider it: the role of architecture as a crucial tool to put strategy into practice is becoming more and more prominent. After all, architecture always has been the antidote to complexity, misalignment and lack of direction. And these are exactly the phenomena we have to deal with in the typical business / IT climate of today.
A sign of a maturing craft is standardization: the availability of repeatable processes, clearly defined results, reusable best practices and the tools to support that all. In the world of Enterprise / IT architecture, entire careers have been dedicated to creating methodologies, frameworks and meta-models. Actually, some made a career out of comparing and selecting methodologies and yet others managed to create frameworks to assess frameworks (go ahead, take your time to fully appreciate this). In the end, every architect seemed to own his or her own methodology and more than once, I had the feeling architects were more occupied with discussing methodologies and frameworks than actually using them. Yes, architects were brought together. But only to discuss their differences.
These days might finally be over now. TOGAF 9 will further strengthen its position as the de facto standard for Enterprise and IT Architecture. And not even primarily because of its superior methodological content (although the list of enhancements to the previous version is very elaborate and convincing and we find SOA, iterative principles and even the acknowledgement of standard packages in the new TOGAF), but much more because TOGAF 9 is the result of an open and collaborative industry consensus process.
We are delivering change in a globalised world and we need methodological tools that are recognized and accepted across the globe. Not just by one region. Not just by one company. And certainly not just by one architect. The only way to produce a standard like that is transparent collaboration between many parties that are all ready to bring in their valuable knowledge, experience and assets.
A true meritocracy indeed, and I can only say that I was proud to see my colleagues Mike Turner, Mick Adams and Den Donovan play such a visible role in the conference program. They have been instrumental in creating some of the crucial new elements of TOGAF 9 and they were not afraid to bring in years of knowledge and experience with our own, internal framework (IAF, Integrated Architecture Framework).
A lot has already been said and tweeted about TOGAF 9, so let me just point you to a few useful blogs and articles. Nick Malik of Microsoft sees “substantial and deep improvements in TOGAF 9, and so does his colleague – and Architecture Strategist – Mike Walker: “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.” Then you should have a look at the blog of Dana Gardner on ZDNet that offers several briefings of the launch. Elemental Links also provide useful first impressions, and you also will find some really nice live-blogs of some of the conference presentations. David Linthicum on Infoworld claims “TOGAF means better architecture” and Beth Gold-Bernstein on ebizQ argues that the “death” of SOA is due in a large part to the fact that organizations are not adept at enterprise architecture discipline. Finally, Wayne Horkan of SUN sees TOGAF as the key to establish a common language for architects – “I see TOGAFs main value in bringing a common and standardised language, set of semantics and terminology to Enterprise Architecture.”
And that is exactly the point: having such a contemporary standard marks an important maturity step within the profession. And even better, architects don’t need to spend time on discussing and comparing methodologies and frameworks anymore. Imagine, they could all go to their clients instead and actually create marvellous Enterprise and IT architectures.
Oh well, just another working day in sunny San Diego.<br