The Framework for Enterprise Architecture

Published in TDAN.com January 2001

We discussed how the disciplines of architecture and manufacturing evolved to manage the design, construction and maintenance of buildings and complex manufactured products such as airplanes. John
Zachman, an international consultant, saw that experience from these disciplines could also be applied to management of the design, construction and maintenance of similarly complex systems – such
as the information systems that support enterprises. The wide variety of lists, text documents, specifications and diagrams in a typical enterprise are difficult to visualize, reference and manage.
To assist this management, he defined two frameworks: the Zachman Framework for Information Architecture; and later, the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture.

He saw that columns representing the interrogatives of WHAT (for data), HOW (for process) and WHERE (for location) could be considered from different perspectives, represented as rows in Figure 1
(see www.ies.aust.com).

  • Row 1 considers Objectives and Scope from the perspective of the Planner
  • Row 2 considers the conceptual Enterprise Model from the perspective of the Owner
  • Row 3 considers the logical System Model from the perspective of the Designer
  • Row 4 considers the physical Technology Model from the perspective of the Builder
  • Row 5 considers Detailed Representations from the perspective of the Subcontractor

Different documentation or representations may be utilized in each cell of the Zachman Framework. For example, a Data Warehouse focuses mainly on data: this is the WHAT (Data) column of Figure 1.
An Enterprise Portal focuses on both the WHAT and the HOW columns, while a Transaction Processing System focuses on the HOW column.

The cell formed by intersection of the Objectives / Scope row (of interest to the Planner) and the Data column in Figure 1 shows that a “List of Things” is appropriate for this cell. Similarly,
at the intersection of the Process column is a “List of Processes”, while the cell at the intersection with the Location column shows a “List of Locations”.

Consider now the Enterprise Model row (of interest to the Owner). The cell for the Owner row and the Data column shows that “Conceptual Data Model” documentation is appropriate for this cell.
This is sometimes also called a “Strategic Data Model”. At the intersection of the Process column for the Owner row is a “Business Process Model”, while the intersection with the Location
column shows a “Business Logistics System”.

The next row addresses the System Model from the perspective of the Designer. The cell for this row and the Data column shows that “Logical Data Model” documentation is appropriate. At the
intersection of the Process column for the Designer row is the “Application Architecture”. The cell at the intersection with the Location column is “Distributed System Architecture”.

The Builder row addresses the Technology Model. The cell at the intersection of the Builder row and Data column contains “Physical Data Model”. At the intersection of the Process column for the
Builder row is the “Systems Design” cell. The intersection of this row with the Location column represents the “Network Architecture”.

Finally the Subcontractor’s row addresses detailed representations: the “Data Definition” of databases in the Data column; “Programs” in the Process column; and “Network Architecture” in the
Location column. These result in completion of the required databases and systems.

We have shown and discussed only three columns in Figure 1. The Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture has three further interrogatives for a total of six columns – WHO (people), WHEN (time)
and WHY (motivation). The complete Zachman Framework can be found at www.ies.aust.com).

The Zachman Framework is a useful way to discuss complex activities and representations for Enterprise Architecture and also Enterprise Information Architecture. It enables enterprises to precisely
plan, design, develop and manage the systems and databases that will be needed for effective e-Business in the 21st Century.

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About Clive Finkelstein

Clive is acknowledged worldwide as the "father" of information engineering, and is Managing Director of Information Engineering Services Pty Ltd in  Australia. He has more than 45 years of experience in the computer industry. Author of many books and papers, his latest book,  Enterprise Architecture for Integration: Rapid Delivery Methods and Technologies,  brings together the methods and technologies for rapid delivery of enterprise architecture in 3-month increments. Read the book review at http://www.ies.aust.com/ten/ten32.htm. Project references, project steps and descriptions are available from   http://www.ies.aust.com. Click on the  Projects link from any page. Clive may be contacted at cfink@ies.aust.com.

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