Category Archives: Boundaryless Information Flow™

A Reference Architecture for Interoperability in the European Union: A Conversation with Raul Abril

By The Open Group

Moving to a digital infrastructure requires far more interoperability and Boundaryless Information Flow™ than in the past. This is particularly true for digital transformation efforts within governments, many of which are known for being extremely siloed, where information exchange between government branches or agencies can be problematic.

The European Union is currently deploying an Interoperability Reference Architecture as part of its e-Government initiatives. We spoke with Raul Abril, Programme Manager, EU Policies for the European Commission, about how his team is going about building that architecture, which is known as the European Interoperability Reference Architecture. Raul will be a keynote speaker at The Open Group Paris 2016 on October 24.

Tell us a bit about the European Interoperability Reference Architecture. How was it designed and how is it currently being used?

First of all, the European Interoperability Reference Architecture (EIRA) came from a vision. This vision was that it had to fulfill a need, and the need was expressed in the existence of digital barriers across European borders, which is against one of the major political priorities in the European Union: The creation of a real and effective single market. It had to be a reference to build up solutions that are interoperable. This is important at all levels (local, regional, national, European) of public administration because many of the e-Government solutions were created in a silo mode. There was a need to provide a common framework for solutions architects to design their solutions in a way that would allow their solutions to be interoperable. There was a business need obviously, and then the way of implementing the EIRA came from my personal professional experiences. The European Commission in general and the Interoperability Solutions for public Administrations unit, ISA in short, in particular, through the ISA2 Programme, have brought state of the art approaches and talent on board in order to address such needs.     

How does the EIRA help provide a structure for interoperable e-Government solutions?

EIRA helps in different ways. One obvious way is that the EIRA is a controlled vocabulary. There are definitions, there are building blocks and there are relationships and the set for those things is in a controlled vocabulary. Why is that important? Because we need to understand each other, so one way of achieving interoperability is by achieving and expressing our designs in the same way.

I’ll give you an example of it in practicality. When you are a public vendor, when you are a government or a member state and you ask for offers and want to express your terms of reference, if we are all using the same controlled vocabulary, there is no doubt that the conformance will be better. But there are other ways. How is EIRA supporting interoperability? The answer also comes from another important concept—the interoperability specifications. Those interoperability specs should be based in open standards. What makes a building block interoperable should be described using interoperability specifications. This becomes a critical success factor for achieving interoperability between solution A and solution B. Why? Because by doing that then solution A and solution B will be using the same interoperability specs. Does it mean that both will be interoperable? Not necessarily, but if they don’t have that it will be almost impossible for them to be interoperable. That’s where the EIRA supports interoperability.

We have started identifying what interoperability specs, based on standards, should be referred in each of the building blocks in the EIRA. 

How is TOGAF® helping to inform the EIRA?

TOGAF, an Open Group standard, is one well known approach for enterprise architecture frameworks (EAF). Of course, there are other EAFs. The reason for using TOGAF was because we consider it appropriate in terms of openness, which is what we’re looking for. This does not mean that European public administrations will have to use TOGAF.

EIRA is a reference architecture. A reference architecture is basically a reference model married to an architectural style. The architectural style we selected for EIRA was SOA, service oriented architecture. That was a critical decision, which means that we wanted to conceptualize any type of solution as being service based, which means that we also care about the code components. But we are also putting attention on the behavioral part. That’s why we selected SOA.

The reference model explains the ontological properties of the components that you’re going to have. How do you designate names? What are the properties of the relationships between them?, etc. We selected ArchiMate®, an Open Group standard,  as the ontology for our reference model. So, the EIRA is based on ArchiMate as the reference model and in a service oriented architecture as the architecture style.

After explaining the “RA” in the EIRA acronym, we should explain now the “I” for interoperability. In general, reference architectures like the EIRA do not have the same ambition as enterprise architecture frameworks. EAFs like TOGAF have the ambition to provide support for the end-to-end design, implementation and lifecycle of a solution. Reference architectures focus on a specific aspect—in the EIRA case, interoperability—and they need to provide the most salient—not all—architectural building blocks that should be considered to address such specific aspects. The EIRA provides guidance on the most salient architectural building blocks to be considered when designing an interoperable solution.

For example, if you are going to design whatever solution for a business or government, one of the things you’ll consider is back-up services. You’ll consider security measures, and one of those will be backing up your data, files, etc. The EIRA doesn’t care at all about back-up services—it doesn’t mean we don’t care about security, but we don’t care about back-up services because it’s not an essential service for interoperability.

At the beginning we identified the key architectural building blocks that were the most salient for supporting interoperability. Today, the EIRA is the result of a collaborative effort. So far a community of representatives of central public administrations of six European Member States have participated in the design and releases of EIRA  with their feedback and  they’ve been validating  the building blocks that EIRA has as the most salient for interoperability.

Are there challenges that are specific to building Reference Architectures for e-Government? What are they?

The biggest challenges are related to what I said before—getting a consensus in the community on what the interoperability specs should be and the standards for each of them.

Another challenge, I think, is adoption. There is a well-known issue with technology adoption in general and with solutions/frameworks/models in particular. One thing is to have the solution and it’s another to get it adopted. We are not talking about, let’s say, solutions for consumers like smartphones. We’re talking about communities of users that are very special. Generally speaking, solutions architects, portfolio managers, policy makers and also CIOs. Those are the potential users of reference architectures.

There is a lot of effort in communicating and disseminating information, and I don’t underestimate the effort it involves. Our challenge is in demonstrating to users and member states how they can use EIRA to solve national interoperability problems—for example, between their central, regional and local administrations, which in many places are huge. When users realize that the EIRA provides value addressing domestic problems, then they are better equipped to address their interoperability issues in cross-border public services.

What benefits do you expect to be able to receive from using the EIRA?

I expect first of all reusability. With interoperable solutions, you are able to reuse the information that has been produced in another place. So, we support the only once principle. The second one is the elimination of digital barriers. By interoperability of solutions we mean something as complex as to have a solution A in one place that is able to send information to another solution B, and that solution B is able to understand the information that has been communicated without noise and to process it respecting ex ante organizational and legal agreed terms. So, this is a more complex level of interoperability than just a message exchange because, for example, it should support administrative processes across borders. In fact, there has been significant progress understanding what is exchanged (i.e. message, data, documents) not mentioning that the technological aspects are well standardized. The issue remains on what happens in both ends from a legal and organizational perspective.

Coming back to the ultimate benefit, the EIRA will support the digital single market. By having interoperability you eliminate digital barriers. This is a huge expected benefit.

This translates into direct benefits for the citizens and businesses. In Europe there is, by comparison with the U.S., less mobility than in the U.S. If you move from the U.S. East Coast to the West Coast, there may be a three-hour time difference, but you will have less problems with many things. You may need to get a driver’s license in a new state but they recognize each other’s driver’s licenses. Here there are a lot of things to be achieved with the mobility of citizens and their needs in terms of public services. In some cases, if you want to move from one country to another, it is possible to access the public services of our home country via a portal. If we would be able to replicate this approach in all Member States and, very importantly, in a coherent way, then we would provide a huge benefit to citizens and businesses. The EIRA allows implementing holistically interoperability, not just from machine to machine. 

@theopengroup #ogPARIS

by-the-open-groupRaul Mario Abril Jimenez works in the ISA unit as Programme Manager, EU Policies, European Commission. He recently relocated to Brussels from Barcelona. He has had permanent residences in San Diego (USA) where he worked for 6 years and before he was based in Copenhagen (DK) for 7 years. He has +35 years of IT professional services experience on international professional engagements in Financial & Telco industries. His knowledge domains are Research Methods (Quantitative & Qualitative Analysis), Marketing (Research, IS), IT R&D (Portfolio Mgmt, Product Mgmt), Project Mgmt, and IS & Technology (Knowledge Management, DSS, BI, Data Warehousing, DBMS, IS Design). Raul has been professor in several universities and been active publishing his research.

Raul holds a doctoral degree (Henley Management College, UK), a European PhD Certification (European Doctoral School on Knowledge Management, DK), an Ing. Sup. Informatics (UAB, E), and a Master in Project Mgmt (The George Washington University, USA). He is a PMP certified professional.


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Tackling Transformation in Government: A Conversation with Roland Genson

By The Open Group

It’s not just industry and corporations that are undergoing massive change due to digital transformation—governments worldwide are being equally affected by the need to create more efficient processes and to provide online services to citizens.

With 28 member states and three branches of government, the European Union (EU) is a prime example of just how complex transformation can be. We spoke with Roland Genson, Director in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union—one of the EU’s three branches—in advance of The Open Group Paris 2016 event (October 24 – 27) about the challenges the Council is facing and how they are working with the two other branches of government to achieve interoperability and Boundaryless Information Flow™.

What is the role of the General Secretariat of the Council (GSC) of the European Union? What sort of services does the Council provide?

In a nutshell, in the legislative process level at the European Union you have three institutions. The most known to the public is the European Commission, which has a role to make proposals and draft new legislation and submit it to the two co-legislators. On one side there’s the European Parliament where you have directly elected parliamentarians and on the other side, the Council of the European Union—that’s us. In the Council of the European Union you have the 28 member states represented, much like, for example, if you look at the U.S. Congress, you have the House and the Senate. As the General Secretariat, we are supporting those 28 member states in the negotiation process, meaning providing conferences, logistics and policy advice but also managing and circulating all the information they need to work in 24 European Union languages.

Why has the GSC undertaken a digital transformation? What led to that and made it necessary?

If we look back at the past, until 2014 all the institutions had their own IT strategy, their own development and so on. But today with digital transformation it’s more and more obvious that we need a fit and interoperability framework. In most of the 28 member states you have e-Government initiatives and digital transformation processes ongoing, and we are in the middle of those. We cannot just look around us and find solutions that are competitive with everyone. We believe that we have to work together on common standards and interoperability frameworks to make sure that we are able to connect to all 28 members, to connect to the other institutions, the Commission and the Parliament, otherwise it will be impossible for us—and for them—to work efficiently.

What are some of the challenges that the GSC is facing as part of the transformation?

I see at least three challenges. The first challenge is an internal one. Within our organization we need seamless information flow between all services. That’s the first place where boundaryless needs to kick in to get rid of existing silos, to eliminate disruptions  between services.

The second challenge is “Brussels-based,” which means the need to have Boundaryless Information Flow between EU institutions. When a proposal comes from the Commission, it should enter into the Council and the European Parliament without any new disruption or without any data or format conversion. Our target should be an end-to-end legislative drafting and negotiation process between the Commission, Council and the Parliament.

The third challenge is to become boundaryless with regard to the GSC’s main stakeholders, which are our member states, so that we are able to serve all 28 member states (MS) with standardized content that can immediately be used and linked within each MS subject to national needs, specifications or legal requirements.

Furthermore, as an additional challenge, we also have responsibility with regard to the European citizens, so public information that our organization deals with can easily be made available and understood for further analyses and exploitation by the interested citizen. It’s our challenge to get EU knowledge out to the civil society.

How are those challenges being addressed as part of the project? How long has your transformation project been going on?

I took over the responsibility for this newly created directorate in 2014 with a clear shift from IT to business outcome or value. A lot of organizations had gone on the same path where, until a certain point, the digital environment was mainly designed by IT departments. We really have now a situation where the business needs and expectations come first. Internal clients and our stakeholders outside are our first priority and on the basis of their perspectives we should see what standards and subsequent IT solutions allow us to get there. We started this business driven process in 2014. Moreover my concern was to have it immediately started together with the other institutions, because it doesn’t make sense for the Council alone to try to find a way for “its” future when the European Commission and the European Parliament have the same challenges. I believe progress made on interoperability solutions for European public administrations (ISA) is equally a valid framework for all institutions to set the necessary standards. And with the European Interoperability Framework, the EIF, we would also have another basis for the GSC’s digital developments. Though we started late in 2014, there are quite a number of approaches, standards and tools that we can take on board and consider as viable options for the future.

Are standards being used to address the challenges of the project?

Absolutely. For example, today we write all of our structured documents on a MS Word-based tool, specifically designed for all our services. Today, this doesn’t make sense anymore. We understand that all the content drafting shall be XML-based, and when discussing with the Commission and the European Parliament, we understand that for legislative process marking, AKOMA NTOSO is the right standard, which leads us to explore the  market, where common standards have already been shared and explored by other communities or organizations.

What role is Enterprise Architecture playing in your transformation?

Our task today is to get all key business processes designed and  documented—getting a clear view on this and assessing them according to corporate’s strategy, priorities and challenges. As mentioned before, it’s rather complicated in the sense that we have to get it aligned in-house, but also with the Commission and the European Parliament and eventually with the member states. Somehow we have to find the best and easiest standard and operating model to get there. What I would like to avoid is to set up a new set of processes which would be too rigid and would not allow us to meet the necessary flexibility some services might need.

What advice do you have for those undertaking digital transformation within government? What do people need to think about when they’re working with government entities as opposed to corporations or businesses?

The General Secretariat of the Council is probably one of the smallest organizations in Brussels but when we look at the “Council” and the “European Council,” the two institutions we serve, the challenge ahead is quite impressive. We have to serve hundreds of ministers plus a community of national officials, front line delegates and back office support, which easily covers more than 200,000 people. Obviously we cannot enter into negotiations with 28 member states to see what would be the best standard or framework but we cannot ignore that things are going on. What we try to do is to identify digital champions and undertake a number of exchange of views  to see what to move on.

As an example, we had a visit to Austria, as the Austrian government is already far advanced in digital transformation. We will have next year the Estonian presidency for the European Union. Estonia is also a digital champion, so we will try to learn from their experience and take advantage of their presidency in order to launch new services and test to see if things meet the needs of most member states. If not, we will swiftly adapt and explore something else. It will be a different, an experimental approach. We need to engage with Member States and vice versa, to trigger a greater awareness of what delegations would like to achieve in terms of content and knowledge delivery.

What role can standards play in helping government with transformation efforts?

For me it’s rather obvious, that if we agree on the same standards in our organizations, all stakeholders would know what the criteria would be, for example when launching a public procurement. It would make multilateral interactions a lot easier. We would not just look at one specific tool or software and see what is compatible, we’d just refer to the standards as a basis. Everyone would know about that standard and subsequently be ensured that products based on that standard are interoperable, are compatible with the institutions or with my neighbor states. Standards also offer semantics. We work in 24 languages. If we want to be sure that one terminology is always used in the same way in different languages, we also need to invest a lot in semantic interoperability.

What standards are you looking at or currently using?

We plan to use TOGAF®, an Open Group standard, in close collaboration with our colleagues on the IT-side for business process management. We want to have a well-documented process map of the organization to allow this smart integration, interoperability and processing of the information. It’s the business architecture part of TOGAF.

Are there other things that governments need to consider when doing transformation projects?

In my view, what is crucial is to have a genuine engagement of all stakeholders at the highest level.. The three Secretary-Generals from the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council expressed their commitment in this respect. To make the expected progress, we equally need a full commitment by all Council members, e.g. national delegations. So we will learn from them and they will learn from us and we will be able to achieve results together to transform our organization. For me, this is crucial. It’s a change in the mindset, but we need to adapt to be able to quickly exchange best practices, lessons and failures, as a way to make progress.

@theopengroup #ogPARIS

by-the-open-groupRoland Genson is director at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, in charge of the Council’s document processing, recording, archiving, transparency and of the GSC’s libraries. He drives the redesign of the GSC’s knowledge and information management in order to align the organisation with digital innovation and with Member States expectations in this respect.

Until 2014, he was a GSC director covering Schengen, judicial cooperation and internal security cooperation under the Justice and Home Affairs policy framework.

From 1987 to 2007, he served in the Luxembourg law enforcement sector and than at the Ministry of Justice.

He is also a lecturer at the Universities of Luxemburg and of Liège.

Mr. Genson will be a keynote speaker at The Open Group Paris 2016 event on October 24.


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The Role of Enterprise Architecture in Platform 3.0 Transformation

By Stuart Macgregor, CEO, Real IRM and The Open Group South Africa

Our transition to the highly-connected realm of Platform 3.0 will radically disrupt the way that we approach Enterprise Architecture (EA).

The current architectures and methodologies will simply not hold up in the era of Platform 3.0 – characterised by the forces of big data, mobility, the Internet of Things, and social media colliding.

In the Platform 3.0 era, power shifts to the customer – as we choose from a range of services offered conveniently via digital channels. By embracing Platform 3.0, organisations can respond to newly-empowered customers. New entrants can scale at unprecedented rates, and incumbents can pivot business models rapidly, while entering and exiting new markets as opportunities emerge.

EA plays an essential role in making these possibilities a reality. EA infuses IT into the DNA of the business. No longer is it about ‘IT’ and ‘business’. Technology is absolutely integral to the entire business, and business leaders are quickly realising the fundamental truth that ‘if you can’t change the system, you can’t change the business’.

A new and exciting Platform 3.0 architectural reality is emerging. It’s composed of microservices and platforms that are combined in radical new ways to serve point-in-time needs – powering new-found business opportunities and revenue streams, dramatically transforming your organisation.

Platform 3.0 refers to radically different ways for the organisation to securely engage with partners, suppliers, and others in your value chain or ecosystem.”

Managing volatile change

But, while driven by an urgent need to transform, to become faster and more agile, large organisations are often constrained by legacy infrastructure.

With an EA-focused approach, organisations can take a step back, and design a set of architectures to manage the volatile change that’s inherent in today’s quickly-digitising industries. EA allows business systems in different departments to be united, creating what The Open Group (the vendor-neutral global IT standards and certifications consortium) aptly describes as a “boundaryless” flow of information throughout the organisation.

Platform 3.0 refers to radically different ways for the organisation to securely engage with partners, suppliers, and others in your value chain or ecosystem. For a retailer, stock suppliers could access real-time views of your inventory levels and automatically prepare new orders. Or a factory, for example, could allow downstream distributors a view of the production facility, to know when the latest batch run will be ready for collection.

In almost every industry, there are a number of new disruptors offering complementary service offerings to incumbent players (such as Fintech players in the Banking industry). To embrace partnerships, venture-capital opportunities, and acquisitions, organisations need extensible architectural platforms.

More and more transactions are moving between organisations via connected, instantaneous, automated platforms. We’re seeing the fulfilment of The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™ between organisations and fuels greater efficiencies.

Architecting for an uncertain future

We need to architect for an uncertain future, resigning ourselves to not always knowing what will come next, but being prepared with an architectural approach that enables the discovery of next-generation digital business opportunities.

By exploring open standards, this transformation can be accelerated. The concept of ‘openness’ is at the very heart of Platform 3.0-based business transformation. As different business systems fall into and out of favour, you’ll want to benefit from new innovations by quickly unplugging one piece of the infrastructure, and plugging in a new piece.

Open standards allow us to evolve from our tired and traditional applications, to dynamic catalogues of microservices and APIs that spark continuous business evolution and renewal. Open standards help up to reach a state of radical simplicity with our architecture.

The old-world view of an application is transformed into new applications – volatile and continually morphing – combining sets of APIs that run microservices, and serve a particular business need at a particular point-in-time. These APIs and microservices will form the basis for whatever application we’d like to build on top of it.

Architects need to prepare themselves and their organisations for an uncertain future, where technology’s evolution and businesses’ changing demands are not clearly known. By starting with a clear understanding of the essential building blocks, and the frameworks to re-assemble these in new ways in the future, one can architect for the uncertain future lying in wait.

Platform 3.0 requires a shift towards “human-centered architectures”: where we start acknowledging that there’s no single version of the truth. Depending on one’s role and skill-set, and the level of detail they require, everyone will perceive the organisation’s structure and processes differently.

But ultimately, it’s not about the user, or the technology, or the architecture itself. The true value resides in the content, and not the applications that house, transmit or present that content. Human-centered architectural principles place the emphasis on the content, and the way in which different individuals (from inside or outside the organisation) need to use that content in their respective roles.

As the EA practice formalises intellectual capital in the form of business models and rules, we create an environment for machine learning and artificial intelligence to play an essential role in the future of the organisation. Many describe this as the future of Platform 3.0, perhaps even the beginning of Platform 4.0?

Where this will eventually lead us is both exciting and terrifying.



Stuart Macgregor is the CEO, Real IRM Solutions and  The Open Group South Africa. Through his personal achievements, he has gained the reputation of an Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance specialist, both in South Africa and internationally.

Macgregor participated in the development of the Microsoft Enterprise Computing Roadmap in Seattle. He was then invited by John Zachman to Scottsdale, Arizona to present a paper on using the Zachman framework to implement ERP systems. In addition, Macgregor was selected as a member of both the SAP AG Global Customer Council for Knowledge Management, and of the panel that developed COBIT 3rd Edition Management Guidelines. He has also assisted a global Life Sciences manufacturer to define their IT Governance framework, a major financial institution to define their global, regional and local IT organizational designs and strategy. He was also selected as a core member of the team that developed the South African Breweries (SABMiller) plc global IT strategy.

Stuart, as the lead researcher, assisted the IT Governance Institute map CobiT 4.0 to TOGAF®, an Open Group standard. This mapping document was published by ISACA and The Open Group. He participated in the COBIT 5 development workshop held in London in 2010.

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The Open Group Paris Event to Take Place in October 2016

The Open Group, the vendor-neutral IT consortium, is hosting its next global event in Paris, France, between October 24-27, 2016. The event, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile, will focus on e-Government, as well as how to address the dimensions of e-Society, e-Technology and e-Management.

Industry experts will look at issues surrounding business transformation, business analysis, information sharing, e-Health, privacy and cybersecurity. Sessions will examine the strategic execution and the application of emerging technologies and management techniques to e-Government. Presentations will also include the latest on the European Interoperability Reference Architecture (EIRA) and the Regulatory Impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on Personal Data Architecture.

The event features key industry speakers including:

  • Rob Akershoek, ‎Solution Architect (IT4IT), Shell
  • Robert Weisman, University of Ottawa
  • Roland Genson, Director, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union
  • Olivier Flous, Vice President of Engineering, Thales Group

Full details on the agenda and speakers can be found here.

The focus of Monday’s keynote sessions will be Standardized Boundaryless Information Flow™ and how Enterprise Architecture can be used in e-Government. There will also be a significant emphasis on business transformation, with the Tuesday plenary and tracks looking at successful case studies, standards as enablers, and architecting the digital business.

Further topics to be covered at the event include:

  • IT4IT™ – managing the businesses of IT, vendor adoption of IT4IT™ and a CIO-level view of the standard
  • Open Platform 3.0™ – the customer experience and digital business, architecting Smart Cities and how to use IoT technologies
  • ArchiMate® – new features of ArchiMate® 3.0 and a look at open standards in practice
  • Open Business Architecture – examining the new Open Business Architecture standard and how to address enterprise transformation

Member meetings will take place throughout the course of the three-day event for ArchiMate®, Architecture, Healthcare, IT4IT™, Open Platform 3.0™, Open Trusted Technology and Security Forum members.

Registration for The Open Group Paris event is open now, is available to members and non-members, and can be found here.

@theopengroup #ogPARIS



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The Open Group Launches the Open Business Architecture (O-BA) Preliminary Standard Part I to Support Business Transformation

The first release of a three part standard designed to improve alignment, governance and integration between the different aspects of business transformation projects

The Open Group, the vendor-neutral IT consortium, has today launched the Open Business Architecture (O-BA) Preliminary Standard Part I, an Open Group standard. The standard focuses on transformations to the enterprise or organization, defining an approach that ensures a clear understanding of the business vision by all stakeholders throughout the enterprise transformation lifecycle. Working in accordance with the standard enhances alignment, governance, and integration between all aspects of business transformation projects.

O-BA Part I describes the practice through a Business Architecture framework called the five-ways framework, the structural challenges it tries to resolve, and how these are resolved by applying the standard. Part I is focused on decision-making and direction-setting.

Developed by The Open Group Governing Board Business Architecture Work Group, this is the first installment of a three-part standard. Combined, the three parts of the standard will explicitly address all aspects of a business architecture practice. Not only will it examine the holistic approach in modeling required, but also the way of working and thinking, as well organizing and supporting.

The standard clearly defines the systemic nature of transformations, the varying interests and goals of stakeholders, and prepares for consistent communication of business priorities and needs throughout the transformation lifecycle. It addresses a real need to solve structural challenges in enterprise and organizational transformations.

O-BA Part I is being published initially as a Preliminary Standard since it addresses an emerging area of best practice. It is therefore subject to change before being published as a full Open Group Standard in due course.

“The Open Business Architecture Standard Part I is the first in a series of installments that will help Business Architects get to grips with transformation initiatives and manage the demands of key stakeholders within the organization,” commented Steve Nunn, President and CEO, The Open Group. “Organizations must now take advantage of open standards like O-BA, to support infrastructures that can enable the kind of Boundaryless Information Flow™ today’s digital enterprises need.”

William Ulrich, President, Business Architecture Guild, who has consulted on the development of the standard, added, “Business architecture continues to expand globally, across multiple industries. This is exemplified by the expansion of the discipline at the grassroots level and across standards organizations. Business architecture has reached a stage where business executives are not only taking notice, but taking action.”

“This standard is an answer to the increasing need for a modern practice, as we observe in many communication service providers transforming to digital service providers: focused on business value, centered on customer experience and open to the digital industry ecosystem”, said Giovanni Traverso, Principal Enterprise Architect at Huawei Technologies, Global Technical Services, who are a Platinum member of The Open Group.

Open Business Architecture (O-BA) – Part I, is available to download as a pdf from The Open Group website, and was presented to attendees at The Open Group Austin Event on July 18th.

Global Business Communications

@theopengroup #ogAUS

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The Open Group Austin Event to Take Place July 18-21, 2016

The Open Group, the vendor-neutral IT consortium, is hosting its latest event in Austin, TX, USA July 18—21, 2016. The event, taking place at Austin’s Four Seasons Hotel, will focus on open standards, open source and how to enable Boundaryless Information Flow™.

Industry experts will explain how organizations can use openness as an advantage and how the use of both open standards and open source can help enterprises support their digital business strategies. Sessions will look at the opportunities, advantages, risks and challenges of openness within organizations.

The event features key industry speakers including:

  • Steve Nunn,  President & CEO, The Open Group
  • Dr. Ben Calloni, Fellow, Cybersecurity, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
  • Rick Solis, IT Business Architect, ExxonMobil Global Services Co
  • Zahid Hossain, Director, IT Architecture, Nationwide
  • William Wimsatt, Oracle Business Architect, Oracle

Full details on the agenda and speakers can be found here.

The Open Business Architecture Standard (O-BA) and ArchiMate® 3.0, a new standard for Architecture, will be the focus of Monday’s keynote sessions. There will also be a significant emphasis on IT4IT™, with the Tuesday plenary and tracks looking at using and implementing the IT4IT™ Reference Architecture Version 2.0 standard.

Further topics to be covered at the event include:

  • Open Platform 3.0™ – driving Lean Digital Architecture and large scale enterprise managed cloud integration
  • ArchiMate® – New features and practical use cases

Member meetings will take place throughout the course of the three-day event as well as the next TOGAF® User Group meeting taking place on July 20.

Registration for The Open Group Austin event is open now, is available to members and non-members, and can be found here.

By The Open Group

@theopengroup #ogAUS

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Enterprise Architects “Know Nothing”: A Conversation with Ron Tolido

By The Open Group

It has been well documented that the digital economy is sending many companies—not to mention industries— into a tailspin. Customer expectations, demands for innovation and a rapid change are creating an IT landscape that is not only difficult to manage but nearly impossible to predict. And according to Capgemini’s Ron Tolido, Enterprise Architects need to prepare to function in a world where they have no idea what type of solutions and innovations their clients may need, even in the near future—a world where Enterprise Architects “know nothing.”

Tolido, who spoke at The Open Group London 2016 in April, believes organizations must begin to look to “I don’t know” architectures if they are to survive in the digital economy. Traditional IT methods and architectural practices that were established during the 1980s and 1990s are no longer relevant in the digital age.

Because customer and business needs are constantly changing there really is no way to know what IT landscapes will look like in the future or what type of solutions organizations will need, Tolido says. Therefore, rather than asking clients what they need, IT must instead provide users an architected platform of services that can be mixed and matched to meet a variety needs, enabling business customers to go in any direction they want.

As such, Tolido says Enterprise Architects in this emerging digital era are comparable to the character Jon Snow from HBO’s Game of Thronesa character who is often told “You know nothing.” Like Jon Snow, today Enterprise Architects effectively know nothing because businesses have no idea what the future will hold, whether two days or ten years from now. With new business scenarios developing in real-time, architectures can no longer be painstakingly planned for or designed.

So where does that leave Enterprise Architects? What can they offer in a world where they know nothing and are heading blindly into an environment that is constantly in flux?

Tolido says it’s time for enterprise architectures to stop trying to make predictions as to what architectures should look like and instead provide the business a digital platform that will allow for a new style of architecting, one that drives continuous transformation rather than requirements-driven, step-by-step change.

To do this, Tolido says Enterprise Architects must enable “the art of the possible” within organizations, providing their clients with a catalog of possibilities—a listing of potential things they could be doing to help companies continually transform themselves.

This is a huge shift for most IT departments, Tolido says, which are still stuck in the mindset that the business is different from IT and that business requirements must drive IT initiatives, with architecture sitting somewhere between the two. No longer can architects be content to place architectures somewhere in the middle between the business and IT, Tolido says, because in the next generation of IT—the era of the platform—there is no distinction between business and IT. They are one and the same. With the “third platform”—or Open Platform 3.0™—the platform must allow the business to continually adapt to the needs of customers and market forces.

This brave new world will also require Enterprise Architects to become more adaptable themselves and give up control of their architectures, Tolido says. The role of architects is evolving with them becoming business enablers, or platform “maesters.”

Currently, many established enterprises are having a difficult time adjusting to this new reality; thus all the digital disruption we are seeing across industries, Tolido says. Start-ups and newer technology players have some advantage here because they are already in a state of change and their systems have been designed to deal with that.

One way, Tolido suggests, that enterprises can make transformation easier on themselves would be to create a “parallel IT universe” alongside their existing systems that explores a more service-oriented model and allows for them to transition. Although such a system might cannibalize existing services or products, it may also be the only way to keep up with disruptive market forces. “Better to eat yourself and be your own disruptor than have someone else do it to you,” Tolido says.

As “platform maesters,” Enterprise Architects will also need to become much more proactive in helping company stakeholders understand the necessity of a platform play for continuous business transformation. That means proving that the EA role is much more about designing a continuously enabling platform than actually designing solutions, which is a shift in role for EAs. Tolido believes EAs must also become better at telling the digital story and outlining the business possibilities that services can enable. “They need to become real change agents. This will require more imagination from architects as well.”

Enabling unhindered, continuous transformation may actually allow businesses to move closer to The Open Group vision of Boundaryless Information Flow™, Tolido says. Standards will have a significant role to play here because companies designing platforms that allow for constant change will need the help of standards. The work being done in The Open Group Open Platform 3.0 Forum can help organizations better understand what open platforms designed for micro services and ad hoc application composition will look like. For example, Tolido says, the concept of the Open Business Data Lake—an environment that combines services, data retrieval and storage in a fluid way to provides dynamic outlets and uses for the data, is an indicator of how the landscape will look differently. “Standards are crucial for helping people understand how that landscape should look and giving guidance as to how organizations can work with microservices and agility,” Tolido says.

Despite all the upheaval going on at companies and in IT today, Tolido believes these are exciting times for IT because the discipline is going through a revolution that will effect everything that businesses do. Although it may take some adjustments for Enterprise Architects, Tolido says the new landscape will provide a lot of compelling challenges for architects who accept that they know “nothing”, go with the flow and who can adapt to uncertainty.

“It’s a new world. There’s more change than you can absorb right now. Better enjoy the ride.”


By The Open Group

Ron Tolido is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Application Services Continental Europe, Capgemini. He is also a Director on The Open Group Governing Board and blogger for Capgemini’s multiple award-winning CTO blog, as well as the lead author of Capgemini’s TechnoVision and the global Application Landscape Reports. As a noted Digital Transformation ambassador, Tolido speaks and writes about IT strategy, innovation, applications and architecture. Based in the Netherlands, Mr. Tolido currently takes interest in apps rationalization, Cloud, enterprise mobility, the power of open, Slow Tech, process technologies, the Internet of Things, Design Thinking and – above all – radical simplification.



Filed under Boundaryless Information Flow™, Business Transformation, Data Lake, digital technologies, Enterprise Architecture, enterprise architecture, Enterprise Transformation, Internet of Things, IoT, Open Platform 3.0, Ron Tolido, Standards, The Open Group