The Open Group TOGAF® User Group meeting, held in San Francisco on January 30, 2017, focused on “Create vs. Reuse Architectures.” It addressed the question of whether Enterprise Architects need to be more involved in reusing existing architecture models than in creating new ones to meet their needs.
The Open Group President and CEO Steve Nunn welcomed attendees to the meeting and noted that TOGAF, an Open Group standard, is now used by more than 63,000 TOGAF 9 certified architects worldwide. The user group meetings were started a year ago in order to capture more feedback from users and to allow users to interact professionally and network with each other.
The meeting kicked off with an Oxford-style debate featuring debaters Jason Uppal, Open CA Level 3 Certified Architect from QRS, and Peter Haviland, Managing Director, Head of Engineering & Architecture at Moody’s Corporation.
Emcee Terry Blevins moderated the debate. Blevins noted that during the last user group meeting the subject of agility came up in regard to the need for architecture models and whether they could be reused rather than created each time a model was necessary, thus creating the central question of the day’s debate.
Arguing the pro-position, Haviland said that TOGAF already has a provision for selecting tools and reference models for re-use. Using the examples of SAP and its growth since inception, as well as the growth of the Apple app store, Haviland said that it was necessary for technologists to have models they can reuse in order to make their lives easier. He also argued that the ability to forecast delivery through models is necessary for teams to plan. Finally, he argued that solving the same problem over and over again is not something most architects want to do. Existing reference models provide a common language for architects and are important for architects working in 2017.
Arguing the against-position, Uppal said that reference models are useful only when they are entrenched in a reference architecture. Uppal says that reference models were akin to the utility theory in economics—they help explain reference architecture but on their own, they’re useless. Uppal said that architects do indeed need to be experts in building reference models, but those models be based on reference architectures. In turn, those architectures must have a clearly defined problem, a direction for solving the problem, understanding of the capabilities required for solving and how to get to the outcomes it will achieve. The ecosystem must explain what’s required for it to flourish. Only when you have a proven reference architecture can you have reference models, therefore they must be created. Uppal summarized that architects must first understand the problem they’re trying to solve then they can figure out an architecture for solving it. It’s essential to know how to create a model to know how to use them.
At the end, the majority of people in the room agreed that the debate was a draw. The answer to the question is “it depends,” as there are instances where a model does need to be created and others where there is enough information available in the public domain for reuse.
The Open Group Architecture Forum exists primarily to support EA practice and the TOGAF standard in order to provide value to businesses. The Forum is in the process of extending the TOGAF ecosystem to provide a library that includes guides and materials for practitioners in addition to the TOGAF Certification Program.
- Emcee Terry Blevins related a story about BAE Systems, a British defense contractor, that took the TOGAF standard, removed all references to IT terms from it and then was able to use the standard to begin transforming how they manufacture nuclear submarines. A recently TOGAF certified architect from Genentech shared how she’s been able to use the TOGAF ADM to better identify capability gaps within their organization. She’s also been able to use the standard to better articulate needs to get internal buy-in. And she’s even using the standard in her personal life to help her 10-year old with their math homework!
- Jason Uppal told a story about how he wrote an engineering course to train fellow workers years ago that was very similar to how TOGAF was written. When someone suggested he instead just use TOGAF, he started using that. His business has since used TOGAF for a number of applications, including a project where they were challenged to use TOGAF to solve the problem of converting slum areas in India to livable communities without converting them into ghettos. They’ve also used the method to help companies figure out how to design cultures of innovation.
- Another attendee related how his company had developed a model that they thought would save the company significant amounts of money—however, in development the model, they completely forgot to think about the organization’s culture. As such, the plan they created was thrown out and they had to start again from scratch to create a new plan.
- An attendee from Fujitsu discussed how it had used TOGAF to create a standardized approach to design processes within the company. Another attendee iterated that dealing with culture is a vital part of doing architecture and in making TOGAF successful. For example, he said in India the TOGAF ADM was used to help control the flow of illegal medicine into the country. They’ve also been able to apply the ADM to palm farming in Malaysia.
- The Open Group VP for Architecture Chris Forde added that in China, both start-ups and multinationals are using TOGAF to plan both start-up growth and do digital transformation in large companies.
- Sonia Gonzales shared how she had used TOGAF with a small Costa Rican company to help a company develop its strategy and organizational structure without doing any technical implementation.
- A user working in digital marketing talked about how he’s used a whitepaper on capability based planning internally to help stakeholders understand what they need.
Chris Forde also provided a quick overview of the Association of Enterprise Architects and how users can get involved in the association.
How TOGAF® can better serve users
Some of the primary needs that users expressed regarding TOGAF included:
- Content on how to better sell Enterprise Architecture and appeal to stakeholder emotion
- An active forum where users can go to find models, use cases, etc. and get answers to questions on demand
- The Open Group’s publication catalog has lots of information that users can utilize
- Actively recruit younger workers to attend events such as the User Group meeting
Additional user requirements were gathered via cards that were distributed to attendees and collected at the end of the meeting. Suggestions for the standard will be submitted to The Open Group Architecture Forum for consideration as they work on revisions to the standard.
Interested in attending the next TOGAF User Meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area? Send an email to Maggie Roth <firstname.lastname@example.org> with your preferred days and times and city, and let’s start planning.
Resources for Enterprise and Business Architects:
For more information about TOGAF and EA, visit The Open Group Publications site.
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