Sunday, October 16, 2005

Zachman Lecture

I attended a two day seminar on the Zachman framework for Enterprise Architecture last week. I have read about Zachman before, and have even bought a book on the subject (which as an aside must be the work book ever written). However the seminar was presented by John Zachman himself so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get the message from the horse's mouth.

I was not disappointed; I have always thought of the Zachman framework as just being a means of classifying the various artefacts created during the development and maintenance of an enterprise's architecture. However John's compelling vision is that the Zachman framework is a schema for defining the primitive elements of enterprise architecture. He describes the framework as being the basis for enterprise physics, and draws an analogy with the periodic table. This analogy also allows him to justify the fact that not all of the models that comprise the cells in the framework have been articulated yet. Continuing the analogy, he argues that any architectural artefact needed will either be one of the primitive models in the framework, or a composition of these primitive models. By separating out the independent variables in the enterprise (represented by the columns, defined by interrogatives) the enterprise can support the flexibility needed in the information age.

One of the points made repeatedly during the two days was that in the absence of architecture models there are only three ways to support change:
  1. Change by trial and error
  2. Reverse engineer the models
  3. Scrap the legacy solution and start again
Another interesting observation concerned the use of COTS; here the advice was to change the organization and/or business processes to fit the COTS package, and not vice-versa.

John's presentational style was very interesting; it was not a seminar in the sense of dialogue and discussion. It was more a high-powered intensive lecture, with a huge quantity of facts, knowledge and anecdotes delivered at breakneck speed.

All in all, it was an excellent lecture to attend. I left with a feeling that I need to change the way that I think about architecture, which is all I could really ask for.