25th, 2006: Enterprise Architecture and The Open Group
Last week I attended
a practitioners conference
of The Open Group in Miami (Florida,
USA) as an invited speaker. The Open Group is a consortium of,
mainly, IT-vendors (Fujitsu, HP, Hitachi, IBM, NEC and Capgemini).
They present themselves as "a vendor- and technology-neutral
consortium, whose vision of Boundaryless Information Flow will enable
access to integrated information within and between enterprises based
on open standards and global interoperability".
Most issues presented
at the conference were about and around Enterprise Architecture, The
Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) and certification of IT architects.
As short as possible:
Architecture is seen by the Open Group as the way an IT infrastructure
is put together and the way it supports its organisation.
is a set of architectures that fit together. TOGAF has a process called
Architecture Development Method (ADM). ADM is meant to create and
maintain the TOGAF architectures.
- A certification
program for IT-architects called ITAC was presented. This
program is is a collaborative effort to which several companies (including
IBM and HP) contributed on peer basis.
A number of observations
during and after this conference include:
- This conference
offered excellent opportunity to talk to everybody and to learn a
lot. The Open Group proved with this conference it is really a group
open for discussion and alternative opinions. The organisation of
the conference was first-rate.
- There was a
kind of split in the people attending this practitioners
conference. My feeling was it was a split like between push and pull.
You may also call it people from the supplyside and people from the
- Push / supplyside
people where mostly related to the IT-industry. They were telling
about their approach of Enterprise Architecture, and telling people
about their successes and problems.
- Pull / demandside
was a quite different group of people. Most of them were looking
for solutions for problems in their organisation. Most of them were
somewhat hesitant on the concept of Enterprise Architecture as presented
In my many discussions
with people there was quite a difference of opinion between the two
groups. The mainstream was that "supplyside" tried to convince
"demandside" the Enterprise Architecture was the way to
- I had a number
of discussions with people on the Architecture Development
Method (ADM). It proved to be difficult to understand what
this method is all about because it contains a process that is not
creating IT-solutions. It's value for an organisation was hard to
ADM is designed
to create the architectures of TOGAF, and to maintain them. People
are talking about it as goal to be reached in itself; a number of
architectures are to be developed and maintained so IT-professionals
are able to create fitting and effective solutions. This is not a
trivial task, but an enormous amount of work that may diminish in
time, but may not end.
TOGAF is including business architecture, information systems architecture
(incl. application architecture and data architecture) and technology
architecture, current as well as future. The way these architecture
are "filled" is, in my opinion, very technology oriented
and therefore not very stable. I would be very hesitant to start
such an amount of work because it's result may be very volatile
due to its technical nature. And the most important can be done
in much less time and with much less things to do and maintain.
- The question
was put on the table by Capgemini to let the Open Group enter the
field of business modeling and business architecture. In my opinion
this work should not be done by IT-professionals. They are not educated
to do this kind of work and their culture and communities do not fit
the work t be done. Most surveys in practice in the past have shown
this as a fact.
The Open Group,
as a community of IT-vendors, would do better to look at other communities
that do this kind of work instead of trying to get into this field
themselves. It would really benefit their customers if they would
strive to become the best contractors in the world.
- There were a
number of presentations on certification of architects (see
also the weblog on certification):
This seems to be a very commendable activity for IT-architects to
get accredited for the work they do, worldwide. Based on extensive
work the contributing vendors the label independent for ITAC cannot
be used in spite of the fact ITAC is a Open Group activity. The
Open Group calls itself "vendor- and technology-neutral",
so neutral is probably the best term, here, instead of independent.
This presentation was not as the others. Capgemini proposed to base
certification on intellectual and psychological testing and development.
To my surprise there were hardly any professional criteria in the
presentation, while the result should be that people can call themselves
information architect. Strange, and I think out of the order for
the information and IT sector. I would be very careful to propose
to organisations, as employers, to expose their employees to psychological
testing and personality development. I don't think, for instance,
this kind of certification will be acceptable for unions for instance,
because it basically introduces the possibility of manipulation
of employees as a person by their employers (and others).
There was talk about TOGAF certification in several presentations.
This certification was awarded when a professional has completed
a TOGAF course and has proven to be able to work with TOGAF and
ADM. This did not look like a professional certification. It was
about courses where people learn to use a framework and method called
- It was also
clear there were also a large number of political discussions
in the Open Group itself on TOGAF, ADM and certification. These are
usual when standards are discussed. These discussions were mainly
kept out of the practitioner conference.
As a whole this
practitioners conference was a useful event, full of information and