The Architecture Content Framework

The TOGAF Architecture Framework is comprised of the following main components

  • Building Blocks
  • Artifacts
  • Deliverables
  • An Architecture Repository

Before detailing the main components in the TOGAF Architecture Content Framework lets understand why an Enterprise would want to leverage the Content Framework.

Leveraging the TOGAF Content Framework provides the following benefits:

  • Detailed meta model
  • A detailed open standard for how architectures should be described
  • Comprehensive checklist of the architecture outputs
  • Greater consistency in terms of the outputs of the ADM
  • Promotes better integration of work products

The TOGAF Architecture Content Framework provides a specific and detailed model of work products that form the architecture. These models include:

  • Deliverables (Including the artifacts that fall within the deliverables)
  • The building blocks that form the architecture (Otherwise known as ABBs)

Deliverables

In terms of the TOGAF ADM a deliverable is defined as a formal work product(s) or a specified output(s) where the output is based on a specified contract. It is important to understand that a deliverable many contain one or more artifacts.

Further, a deliverable or work product is based on a contract and because of this will be formally agreed upon, reviewed and then signed off by the relevant stakeholders within the enterprise.

At the completion of a project any deliverables that form any type of documentation will be archived and may be placed into the Architecture Repository for future use as a standard, reference model or architecture snapshot at a set point in time.

Artifacts

TOGAF describes an artifact as a much smaller work product that is used to describe an architecture from as set view point.

An artifact falls into one of three categories:

  1. Lists or catalogs – (A list of things)
  2. Diagrams – Images of things
  3. Matrices – Relationships between things

As an example, an artifact may include items such as:

  • Network diagram
  • A use case specification
  • Server specification
  • A set of requirements for the architecture
  • A business interaction matrix

An architectural deliverable is able to contain more than a single artifact and these artifacts will be the content of the Architecture Repository.

Building Blocks

Simply put a building block is a component of Information Technology, Organisation (Business) or architectural capability that can be combined with other building blocks to deliver the Solutions or Architectures. It is worth noting that a building block may be able to be re-used.

There are two different types of building blocks:

  1. Solution Building Blocks otherwise known as SBBs
  2. Architecture Building Blocks otherwise known as ABBs

A Solution Building Block (SBB) is the implementation of the designs as specified by the Architecture Building Blocks.

An Architecture Building Block is the output of the design.

Architecture Repository

The Architecture Repository is a model which is used for storing the different Architectural output types as produced by the ADM.

Techniques and Guidelines

TOGAF provides a set of techniques and guidelines that will assist the architect when following the Architecture Design Method (ADM)

Techniques are a way to provide support for tasks that fall inside the ADM; for example, risk management, gap analysis, planning for migration

Guidelines provide a way to adapt the ADM when dealing with a variety of differing scenarios which may include various process styles and also set requirements

Describe an Architecture Framework

The TOGAF standard definition for an Architecture Framework is

A conceptual structure used to develop, implement, govern and sustain an Architecture

TOGAF Standard Definition

To expand on the TOGAF definition, think of an Architecture Framework as:

  • A set of structures which are able to be used to develop a wide range of differing Architectures.
  • An Architecture Framework should describe a way to design a set of of building blocks (And their relationships) in terms of the state of an enterprise.
  • There should be a set of standards, guidelines and compliant products on which the building blocks can be implemented.
  • There should be a common vocabulary and set of tools.

Why use an Architecture Framework such as TOGAF?

The main reason for using an existing Architecture Framework such as TOGAF is that an existing framework adheres to what actually works in a real life scenario. Using an existing framework will simplify and expedite any new architecture development and allow for future organisation growth.

Another reason for using an existing framework is that a framework such as TOGAF contains an existing set of resources such as templates, patterns and other artifacts that are immediately available for use.

Finally, by it’s nature, the design of Architecture is a complex and extremely technical process. TOGAF is able to provide a strong guideline about what works and what does not which enables organisations to create open systems based solutions that will meet the immediate and growing needs of the business.

The core of the Architecture Development Method – ADM

The diagram below displays the core of the TOGAF Architecture Development Method otherwise known as the TOGAF ADM. The TOGAF ADM provides a step by step approach to Enterprise Architecture

TOGAF Architecture Development Method

It is important to understand that TOGAF consists of six different components – The six components are:

  1. The TOGAF ADM (As shown above)
  2. An Architecture Content Framework – This framework is used to model the work products that will form the architecture. The Architecture Content Framework contains artifacts, deliverables and the building blocks (Otherwise known as Architecture Building Blocks or ABBs) that the deliverables will represent.
  3. Techniques and guidelines that are able to be used by an organisation when following the Architecture Development Method process.
  4. The Architecture Capability Framework that can be used to define roles, skills, responsibilities and other reference and guideline materials needed to create and operate an Enterprise Architecture within an organisation
  5. The Enterprise Continuum – A model that provides a way for an organisation to structure an Architecture Repository. The Enterprise Continuum also provides a way for classifying solution and architecture artifacts.
  6. The TOGAF library – The TOGAF library is a supporting reference library that contains templates, guidelines and other reference material to help expedite the creation of Enterprise Architectures.

The four Architecture Domains within Enterprise Architecture

The are four Architecture Domains that form Enterprise Architecture

  1. Business Architecture
  2. Application Architecture
  3. Data Architecture
  4. Technology Architecture

It is suggested by TOGAF that a complete Enterprise Architecture should address all of the four architecture domains specified above. Each of the Enterprise Architecture domains are detailed below.

Business Architecture
Think of Business Architecture as a way of defining the business organisation, the business strategy and the key processes that form the business

Application Architecture
Application Architecture is a way to develop a template or blueprint for the deployment of the systems within the Application. Application Architecture also describes the relationships between the business processes and how they interact.

Data Architecture
Data Architecture details the definition and structure of an organisations physical and logical assets as well as the data management resources and assets

Technology Architecture
Technology Architecture provides a method to describe the software and hardware necessary to support the release of the organisations main applications

How can Enterprise Architecture benefit businesses?

There are many ways that Enterprise Architecture can benefit organisations – some of these are:

  • Helping a business or organisation achieve its business strategy
  • Allow new capabilities or innovations to get to market faster
  • A more consistent and streamlined business process with better information across organisational units
  • Better security and reliability
  • Less risk
  • Streamlining IT and business operations
  • Reduced risk in terms of future investment and a better return for existing investments
  • Easier and more streamlined procurement at reduced cost

Describe Enterprise Architecture

When describing Enterprise Architecture there are two main things we need to know:

  1. According to the MIT Center for Information Systems Research Enterprise Architecture is the business process logic for Information Systems infrastructure which reflects the standardization and integration requirements for the firms operating model
  2. A blueprint (Conceptual) that defines the operation and structure of an organisation. The intent of an Enterprise Architecture is to resolve how organisations can effectively achieve their current and future goals.

Describe an Architecture

In its simplest form, think of an Architecture in terms of TOGAF as the central properties or concepts in a system; specifically:

  • The individual elements that form the system
  • The fundamental principles that govern the systems evolution and design
  • How the elements in the system relate to each other