EA Framework Types you Should Know (Management, Layers, Assessment)

Enterprise Architecture frameworks help to do enterprise architecture right. However, different types of frameworks exist, which are often confusing. Today´s article explains the difference between Enterprise Architecture management frameworks, Enterprise Architecture layers frameworks, and Enterprise Architecture Assessment frameworks.

Enterprise Architecture Layers Help to Understand the Scope of an IT Landscape

There are different Enterprise Architecture layer frameworks and they differ in the set of layers that they include. Each architecture layer can be understood as one view of the IT landscape of a company. For instance, the application layer provides a view only on the applications, while the data layer focuses solely on the data, how they are connected, etc.

If you are establishing an EA practice, the right choice of an overarching framework is important. Organizations that deal with sensitive data or with data that might be very valuable, political, etc., will put a higher focus on IT Security compared to a small startup that just started operations. Accordingly, the first company is more likely to include a security layer in its Enterprise Architecture framework.

Let´s consider the top three options for Enterprise Architecture Framework layers.

1. The TOGAF Enterprise Architecture Framework

A traditional and widely-spread choice is the TOGAF Enterprise Architecture Framework. It consists of three layers, which are business architecture, information systems architecture, and technology architecture.

Interesting about the TOGAF Enterprise Architecture Layer Framework is that it is quite lean. For instance, the information systems architecture layer consolidates information about applications and data. If you are looking for a framework that focuses more on data integration architecture, you might want to choose a different framework. Learn more about TOGAF with those 7 pictures.

2. Enterprise Architecture Data Integration Architecture and Application Architecture Layers

The TOGAF framework, including the proposed layers, is often perceived as outdated. A more-often used model is the BAIT model of IT architecture layers. It has four layers, which are business architecture, application architecture, data and information architecture, and technology architecture.

The main difference to the TOGAF framework is that it has a separate application layer and a separate data and information architecture layer. This is generally beneficial if your organization has a lot of applications to manage and also wants to specifically manage enterprise data, such as their metamodel, the data integration architecture, etc.

Due to the general increase of applications in an average application landscape and a steep increase in data importance, it sounds reasonable to show the two aspects separately.

Obviously, it is also possible to manage your enterprise data integration architecture without a dedicated layer in your enterprise architecture framework, however, it makes things easier.

3. Focusing on Enterprise Security Architecture

Last but not least, IT Security importance is steadily rising. Given that, enterprise architecture frameworks start to separately point out that aspect in their IT landscapes. This framework is an extension of the BAIT model and is therefore called the BAIT+S model, where S stands for the security architecture layer.

Again, not having a separate Security Architecture layer in your framework does not mean that you cannot have security architects, security architecture, and generally a sufficient focus on the topic. However, it makes it clear right from the core of enterprise architecture activities.

Enterprise Architecture Management Frameworks Help to Manage EA Practices

Next on our list is the Enterprise Architecture management framework. While the EA layers framework focuses on the IT landscape assets, the EA management framework focuses on the capabilities, activities, skills, and content that an Enterprise Architecture practice deals with or should deal with.

Let´s take a look at the EA management framework of TOGAF, as well as my suggestion.

1. TOGAF Enterprise Architecture Management Framework

The TOGAF Architecture Capability Framework does exactly what I described above. It is a view of what an Enterprise Architecture practice should be able to do to work well and provide good results. As you can see in the picture below from The Open Group, an EA practice requires a governance body, a pool of skilled resources, a portfolio of projects and their governance, an architecture repository to store deliverables, results, and documents, and an interface to business operations.

Picture taken from: The TOGAF Standard, Version 9.2 – Introduction to Part VI (opengroup.org)

2. Best Practice Enterprise Architecture Management Framework

TOGAF provides a decent start to understanding what is required to manage an Enterprise Architecture practice. However, one needs to combine different sources of information to get a full picture. Based on my experience, I usually propose a different approach with three main categories, which are shown below.

  1. Strategy & Organization
    a) Strategy & Governance
    b) Organization Management
  2. Content Management
    a) Business Architecture
    b) Application Architecture
    c) Data & Integration Architecture
    d) Technology & Infrastructure Architecture
    e) IT Security Architecture
  3. Architecture Implementation & Support
    a) Architecture Realization & Synergies
    b) Enabler & Facilitator

Each of the elements stands for a set of capabilities and services that an Enterprise Architecture practice should deliver to its organization.

For instance, the most common tasks around an application architecture include application strategy, application landscape management, microservices management, services management, software assets, and licenses management, and configuration management.

Another example would be Organization Management, which includes capabilities such as EA governance, organization & culture, processes, roles and responsibilities, EA environment, risk management, financial management, and performance and quality management.

If you are interested in the full framework or in understanding specific aspects of it in detail, please feel free to get in contact with me and I am happy to help.

Enterprise Architecture Assessment Frameworks Help to Understand What you Should Improve in Your Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture management frameworks let you know what your organization should be caple of doing. An Enterprise Architecture assessment framework helps you to understand where you should improve your current activities.

As both framework types are based on EA activities, they can be quite similar in practice. The difference is that the first one suggests what to have, and the second one evaluates the quality of what you have. In addition, the heart of an Enterprise Architecture assessment framework areis its assessment questions, which help to evaluate your As-Is state as objectively as possible.

Examples of Enterprise Architecture Assessment Questions

  • How well is the EA strategy defined including vision and mission?
  • Are principles defined for all architecture layers? (e.g. business, application, data, infrastructure)
  • Are there any agile roles defined within the EA function?
  • To what extent are EA processes lean and lightweight?
  • To what extent is a microservice strategy defined?
  • To what extent is metadata assessed and managed?

A good assessment framework should have at least 5-10 questions per area in your management framework. When assessing, keep in mind that you need to ask the right questions to the right stakeholders in your organization. If you want to learn more about that topic, feel free to contact me as well.

Enterprise Architecture Frameworks – Different Types and Different Purposes

We´ve learned about three different types of Enterprise Architecture Frameworks today, which are:

  1. Enterprise Architecture Layers Framework
  2. Enterprise Architecture Management Framework
  3. Enterprise Architecture Assessment Framework

They are all relatively similar, yet, each has its purpose and it is important to understand them.

Is your organization using different frameworks? It would be great to learn about them in the comments section below!

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