By Dana Gardner, Interarbor Solutions
This BriefingsDirect thought leadership interview comes in conjunction with The Open Group Conference in Washington, D.C., beginning July 16. The conference will focus on how Enterprise Architecture (EA), enterprise transformation, and securing global supply chains.
We’re joined by one of the main speakers at the July 16 conference, Chris Armstrong, President of Armstrong Process Group, to examine how governments in particular are using various frameworks to improve their architectural planning and IT implementations.
Armstrong is an internationally recognized thought leader in EA, formal modeling, process improvement, systems and software engineering, requirements management, and iterative and agile development.
He represents the Armstrong Process Group at the Open Group, the Object Management Group (OMG), and Eclipse Foundation. Armstrong also co-chairs The Open Group Architectural Framework (TOGAF®), and Model Driven Architecture (MDA) process modeling efforts, and also the TOGAF 9 Tool Certification program, all at The Open Group.
At the conference, Armstrong will examine the use of TOGAF 9 to deliver Department of Defense (DoD) Architecture Framework or DoDAF 2 capabilities. And in doing so, we’ll discuss how to use TOGAF architecture development methods to drive the development and use of DoDAF 2 architectures for delivering new mission and program capabilities. His presentation will also be Livestreamed free from The Open Group Conference. The full podcast can be found here.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: TOGAF and DoDAF, where have they been? Where are they going? And why do they need to relate to one another more these days?
Armstrong: TOGAF [forms] a set of essential components for establishing and operating an EA capability within an organization. And it contains three of the four key components of any EA.
First, the method by which EA work is done, including how it touches other life cycles within the organization and how it’s governed and managed. Then, there’s a skills framework that talks about the skills and experiences that the individual practitioners must have in order to participate in the EA work. Then, there’s a taxonomy framework that describes the semantics and form of the deliverables and the knowledge that the EA function is trying to manage.
One of the great things that TOGAF has going for it is that, on the one hand, it’s designed to be a one-stop shop — namely providing everything that a end-user organization might need to establish an EA practice. But it does acknowledge that there are other components, predominantly in the various taxonomies and reference models, that various end-user organizations may want to substitute or augment.
It turns out that TOGAF has a nice synergy with other taxonomies, such as DoDAF, as it provides the backdrop for how to establish the overall EA capability, how to exploit it, and put it into practice to deliver new business capabilities.
Frameworks, such as DoDAF, focus predominantly on the taxonomy, mainly the kinds of things we’re keeping track of, the semantics relationships, and perhaps some formalism on how they’re structured. There’s a little bit of method guidance within DoDAF, but not a lot. So we see the marriage of the two as a natural synergy.
Gardner: So their complementary natures allows for more particulars on the defense side, but the overall TOGAF looks at the implementation method and skills for how this works best. Is this something new, or are we just learning to do it better?
Armstrong: I think we’re seeing the state of industry advance and looking at trying to have the federal government, both United States and abroad, embrace global industry standards for EA work. Historically, particularly in the US government, a lot of defense agencies and their contractors have often been focusing on a minimalistic compliance perspective with respect to DoDAF. In order to get paid for this work or be authorized to do this work, one of our requirements is we must produce DoDAF.
People are doing that because they’ve been commanded to do it. We’re seeing a new level of awareness. There’s some synergy with what’s going on in the DoDAF space, particularly as it relates to migrating from DoDAF 1.5 to DoDAF 2.
Agencies need some method and technique guidance on exactly how to come up with those particular viewpoints that are going to be most relevant, and how to exploit what DoDAF has to offer, in a way that advances the business as opposed to just solely being to conforming or compliant?
Gardner: Have there been hurdles, perhaps culturally, because of the landscape of these different companies and their inability to have that boundary-less interaction. What’s been the hurdle? What’s prevented this from being more beneficial at that higher level?
Armstrong: Probably overall organizational and practitioner maturity. There certainly are a lot of very skilled organizations and individuals out there. However, we’re trying to get them all lined up with the best practice for establishing an EA capability and then operating it and using it to a business strategic advantage, something that TOGAF defines very nicely and which the DoDAF taxonomy and work products hold in very effectively.
Gardner: Help me understand, Chris. Is this discussion that you’ll be delivering on July 16 primarily for TOGAF people to better understand how to implement vis-à-vis, DoDAF, is this the other direction, or is it a two-way street?
Armstrong: It’s a two-way street. One of the big things that particularly the DoD space has going for it is that there’s quite a bit of maturity in the notion of formally specified models, as DoDAF describes them, and the various views that DoDAF includes.
We’d like to think that, because of that maturity, the general TOGAF community can glean a lot of benefit from the experience they’ve had. What does it take to capture these architecture descriptions, some of the finer points about managing some of those assets. People within the TOGAF general community are always looking for case studies and best practices that demonstrate to them that what other people are doing is something that they can do as well.
We also think that the federal agency community also has a lot to glean from this. Again, we’re trying to get some convergence on standard methods and techniques, so that they can more easily have resources join their teams and immediately be productive and add value to their projects, because they’re all based on a standard EA method and framework.
One of the major changes between DoDAF 1 and DoDAF 2 is the focusing on fitness for purpose. In the past, a lot of organizations felt that it was their obligation to describe all architecture viewpoints that DoDAF suggests without necessarily taking a step back and saying, “Why would I want to do that?”
So it’s trying to make the agencies think more critically about how they can be the most agile, mainly what’s the least amount of architecture description that we can invest and that has the greatest possible value. Organizations now have the discretion to determine what fitness for purpose is.
Then, there’s the whole idea in DoDAF 2, that the architecture is supposed to be capability-driven. That is, you’re not just describing architecture, because you have some tools that happened to be DoDAF conforming, but there is a new business capability that you’re trying to inject into the organization through capability-based transformation, which is going to involve people, process, and tools.
One of the nice things that TOGAF’s architecture development method has to offer is a well-defined set of activities and best practices for deciding how you determine what those capabilities are and how you engage your stakeholders to really help collect the requirements for what fit for purpose means.
Gardner: As with the private sector, it seems that everyone needs to move faster. I see you’ve been working on agile development. With organizations like the OMG and Eclipse is there something that doing this well — bringing the best of TOGAF and DoDAF together — enables a greater agility and speed when it comes to completing a project?
Armstrong: Absolutely. When you talk about what agile means to the general community, you may get a lot of different perspectives and a lot of different answers. Ultimately, we at APG feel that agility is fundamentally about how well your organization responds to change.
If you take a step back, that’s really what we think is the fundamental litmus test of the goodness of an architecture. Whether it’s an EA, a segment architecture, or a system architecture, the architects need to think thoughtfully and considerately about what things are almost certainly going to happen in the near future. I need to anticipate, and be able to work these into my architecture in such a way that when these changes occur, the architecture can respond in a timely, relevant fashion.
We feel that, while a lot of people think that agile is just a pseudonym for not planning, not making commitments, going around in circles forever, we call that chaos, another five letter word. But agile in our experience really demands rigor, and discipline.
Of course, a lot of the culture of the DoD brings that rigor and discipline to it, but also the experience that that community has had, in particular, of formally modeling architecture description. That sets up those government agencies to act agilely much more than others.
Gardner: Do you know of anyone that has done it successfully or is in the process? Even if you can’t name them, perhaps you can describe how something like this works?
Armstrong: First, there has been some great work done by the MITRE organization through their work in collaboration at The Open Group. They’ve written a white paper that talks about which DoDAF deliverables are likely to be useful in specific architecture development method activities. We’re going to be using that as a foundation for the talk we’re going to be giving at the conference in July.
The biggest thing that TOGAF has to offer is that a nascent organization that’s jumping into the DoDAF space may just look at it from an initial compliance perspective, saying, “We have to create an AV-1, and an OV-1, and a SvcV-5,” and so on.
TOGAF will provide the guidance for what is EA. Why should I care? What kind of people do I need within my organization? What kind of skills do they need? What kind of professional certification might be appropriate to get all of the participants up on the same page, so that when we’re talking about EA, we’re all using the same language?
TOGAF also, of course, has a great emphasis on architecture governance and suggests that immediately, when you’re first propping up your EA capability, you need to put into your plan how you’re going to operate and maintain these architectural assets, once they’ve been produced, so that you can exploit them in some reuse strategy moving forward.
So, the preliminary phase of the TOGAF architecture development method provides those agencies best practices on how to get going with EA, including exactly how an organization is going to exploit what the DoDAF taxonomy framework has to offer.
Then, once an organization or a contractor is charged with doing some DoDAF work, because of a new program or a new capability, they would immediately begin executing Phase A: Architecture Vision, and follow the best practices that TOGAF has to offer.
Just what is that capability that we’re trying to describe? Who are the key stakeholders, and what are their concerns? What are their business objectives and requirements? What constraints are we going to be placed under?
Part of that is to create a high-level description of the current or baseline architecture descriptions, and then the future target state, so that all parties have at least a coarse-grained idea of kind of where we’re at right now, and what our vision is of where we want to be.
Because this is really a high level requirements and scoping set of activities, we expect that that’s going to be somewhat ambiguous. As the project unfolds, they’re going to discover details that may cause some adjustment to that final target.
Internalize best practices
So, we’re seeing defense contractors being able to internalize some of these best practices, and really be prepared for the future so that they can win the greatest amount of business and respond as rapidly and appropriately as possible, as well as how they can exploit these best practices to affect greater business transformation across their enterprises.
Gardner: We mentioned that your discussion on these issues, on July 16 will be Livestreamed for free, but you’re also doing some pre-conference and post-conference activities — webinars, and other things. Tell us how this is all coming together, and for those who are interested, how they could take advantage of all of these.
Armstrong: We’re certainly very privileged that The Open Group has offered this as opportunity to share this content with the community. On Monday, June 25, we’ll be delivering a webinar that focuses on architecture change management in the DoDAF space, particularly how an organization migrates from DoDAF 1 to DoDAF 2.
I’ll be joined by a couple of other people from APG, David Rice, one of our Principal Enterprise Architects who is a member of the DoDAF 2 Working Group, as well as J.D. Baker, who is the Co-chair of the OMG’s Analysis and Design Taskforce, and a member of the Unified Profile for DoDAF and MODAF (UPDM) work group, a specification from the OMG.
We’ll be talking about things that organizations need to think about as they migrate from DoDAF 1 to DoDAF 2. We’ll be focusing on some of the key points of the DoDAF 2 meta-model, namely the rearrangement of the architecture viewpoints and the architecture partitions and how that maps from the classical DoDAF 1.5 viewpoint, as well as focusing on this notion of capability-driven architectures and fitness for purpose.
We also have the great privilege after the conference to be delivering a follow-up webinar on implementation methods and techniques around advanced DoDAF architectures. Particularly, we’re going to take a closer look at something that some people may be interested in, namely tool interoperability and how the DoDAF meta-model offers that through what’s called the Physical Exchange Specification (PES).
We’ll be taking a look a little bit more closely at this UPDM thing I just mentioned, focusing on how we can use formal modeling languages based on OMG standards, such as UML, SysML, BPMN, and SoaML, to do very formal architectural modeling.
One of the big challenges with EA is, at the end of the day, EA comes up with a set of policies, principles, assets, and best practices that talk about how the organization needs to operate and realize new solutions within that new framework. If EA doesn’t have a hand-off to the delivery method, namely systems engineering and solution delivery, then none of this architecture stuff makes a bit of a difference.
Driving the realization
We’re going to be talking a little bit about how DoDAF-based architecture description and TOGAF would drive the realization of those capabilities through traditional systems, engineering, and software development method.
For more information on The Open Group’s upcoming conference in Washington, D.C., please visit: http://www.opengroup.org/dc2012
Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, an enterprise IT analysis, market research, and consulting firm. Gardner, a leading identifier of software and Cloud productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities, honed his skills and refined his insights as an industry analyst, pundit, and news editor covering the emerging software development and enterprise infrastructure arenas for the last 18 years.