Snapshot of The Open Group Agile Architecture Framework™ Standard – A Conversation with Walters Obenson

By The Open Group

As organizations around the world pursue more agile ways of working to innovate, attract and retain customers, drive best-in-class operating efficiencies, and respond quickly to changing economic and regulatory conditions, the architecture profession must evolve to support and drive such outcomes.

In continuing over 30 years of publishing award-winning leading practice standards for technology, The Open Group presents the Agile Architecture Framework™ Standard, also know as the O-AAF™ Standard, a comprehensive revision of core architecture practices – updated to compliment modern, digital operating models, and agile development methods.

We spoke with Walters Obenson, Director, Agile Architecture Framework, The Open Group, about the launch of the O-AAF snapshot document at The Open Group Denver event. Here’s what we found out:

How did the development of The Open Group Agile Architecture Framework Standard come about?

The O-AAF Standard bridges the gap that we have seen in the current market and is based on a revised architecture practice and principles. Most organizations today are facing a myriad of challenges, and trying to transform to an agile enterprise is one of these. Part of the challenge of becoming an agile enterprise is how to transform from using legacy systems that were built decades ago, to a digital model that uses new systems and modern technology – The O-AAF Standard will provide practical guidelines on how they can do so.

The framework includes strategy, formulation and governance, as well as guidance on the minimum viable architecture that is required to enable and sustain minimal viable products. Another element to consider is how to become truly agile, and to be ready for any change. Many enterprises today use outdated practices to try and deliver an architecture approach, and so the O-AAF Standard aims to streamline this approach as well as the associated processes.

How should the O-AAF Standard be used by businesses and architects?

The O-AAF Standard has a modular structure and is organized into four parts, including:

  1. Agile Architecture Fundamentals – provides an overview of the framework and introduction to its key concepts
  2. Playbooks – offers guidelines to solve an agile architecture problem
  3. Architecture Patterns – describes the types of solution which can be used to a variety of problems
  4. Methods – developed to resolve problems using practical, hands-on experiences e.g. domain-driven design

Based on these four sections, a business will be able to use the O-AAF Standard to determine its strategy for transformation. For example, if a business wants to define a go-to market strategy, the framework will provide practical guidance on how to do this, including formulation and governance, how to design an operating model, and also develop products and services.

What value will the O-AAF Standard bring to the businesses and architects who adopt it?

The O-AAF Standard will help businesses to shift from being a legacy-based enterprise to being agile, and one that has the flexibility to adapt to change at any time. This, in turn, reduces the traditional need for what is usually associated with a legacy system, by using continuous integration and continuous delivery.

The framework also provides standards that organizations can utilize to go quickly to market and provide minimal viable product. Then, if an organization wants to implement a change – improving sustainability, for example – then they can do so immediately. Or, if an organization is planning to change its management structure, then the framework also provides some guidance and principles that they can use to do so.

Ultimately, the more agile an enterprise the faster the learning cycle – this then translates into a shorter time to market, and higher quality products and customer experiences. The O-AAF Standard tackles traditional sources of complexity and welcomes changes in requirements and development. An agile process also creates positive change for customers, and therefore gives the business a competitive advantage.

For architects, they can utilize the framework to streamline their development processes and move to more agile ways of working. They can also use the strategic architecture patterns in part three in order to streamline domain-driven designs, and to explore what distinguishes architecture from design. Not all design decisions are architecture decisions; the latter need to be organized and driven by the determination of high impact decisions that affect the wider business. Finally, they can also employ the framework to leverage event-driven architecture and design modular systems. There are sections to the O-AAF Standard that cover businesses, as well as those which look at where the enterprise and the individual architects engage with each other.

What business problems do you see the O-AAF Standard solving?

One key problem that I see the O-AAF Standard solving concerns minimum viable architecture, as businesses face several problems when producing minimum viable products. The framework removes process waste – for example, minimal viable architecture gives businesses the capability to enable and sustain minimum viable products, test specific products before launching. The product then needs to be placed in front of the customer in order for the business to discover and analyze the feedback.

The organization must then decide whether the product meets the customers’ expectations and can also determine whether the price point is right. This approach will reduce operational costs and allow organizations to respond quickly to change and scrap products if needed. The O-AAF Standard is being developed to solve these kind of problems. Parts one and two in particular provide building blocks to meet the objectives of an enterprise.

How is the O-AAF Standard different to other frameworks that are used within the industry?

The O-AAF Standard gives businesses a standard approach to use, compared to the other frameworks that require them to implement a cycle that should be followed from start to finish. This framework is distinguished and differentiated from others for several reasons. Firstly, ours is designed to ‘plug-in and play’ – the enterprise just needs to decide what they want to change using the key concepts in part one, and then part two provides the set of guidelines to solve and enable the change.

Secondly, it has been developed by professionals who understand the current market trends and have a wealth of experience in the digital and agile transformation of the enterprise. The O-AAF Standard is the next generation digital and agile architecture framework, and the modular structure concept is easy to use and adopt by organizations that intend to move to more agile ways of working.

The framework is also very flexible and scalable. For example, in terms of product development, agile methods bring quicker feedback loops – allowing organizations to adapt quickly to improve the customer experience, increase operational efficiencies, reduce costs and maximize ROI.

The O-AAF Standard does not impose strict order. Instead, it is composed of a set of playbooks that can be used to meet a specific objective for the individual architect or for an enterprise, and this will be flexible and tailored specifically to them.

Who has been involved in developing this framework?

The O-AAF Standard is being developed by The Open Group, which is made up of member organizations such as DXC Technology, IBM, Mega, and Société Générale, to name but a few, who have been fundamental in the development of this framework. On average, each individual involved has at least 25 years of hands-on experience in driving digital transformation and agile transformation for enterprises, and they are based across different geographic regions for a global perspective.

What’s next for the O-AAF Standard once the snapshot has been launched?

The O-AAF snapshot document was published on July 23, 2019, and includes a completed version of part one. The snapshot can be found here. Next, our goal is to continue to improve and develop the standard to fully cover the digital transformation and agile transformation of the enterprise. During this process, we would really appreciate any feedback and guidance about the direction we are taking in the development of The Open Group O-AAF Standard, so that we can respond to that in the next release.    @theopengroup

Walters Obenson, Director, Agile Architecture Framework, The Open Group, has over 14 years experience, with excellent records of delivering cost effective agile digital transformation and high-performance technology solutions to meet challenging business demands.

Previous roles include Lead Agile Business Analyst, Agile Project Manager, Digital Product Owner, SAP Hybris Consultant and SAP Hybris Solution Architect.

Walters holds a Bachelor Degree in Business & IT and MBA in Finance from Plymouth University, United Kingdom. Licenses and Certifications include: SAP Certified Application Associate, ISEB Certificate in Business Analysis, and APMG Prince 2 Foundation Certificate.