Microsoft Enterprise Architecture Framework?

Your puzzled by the title aren’t you? In a recent e-mail discussion the question came up regarding enterprise architecture frameworks. The questions was “Does Microsoft have an EA framework similar to TOGAF or Zachman”?  I decided to post this here on my blog because it might be useful information to you if you ever wondered the same.

There was a lot of people that had very interesting things to say about the topic but few answered the question. Some of the dialog included:

  • The frameworks we do have and how they align
  • Personal opinions on frameworks in general
  • Services roadmaps
  • Why we should/should not have an EA framework
  • etc.

Today, Microsoft does not have an EA framework, methodology or a EA product as such. What Microsoft does have is some key pieces to the EA puzzle. One example of how this is directly demonstrated in the Enterprise Architecture Toolkit (EATK). The EATK shows customers how Microsoft can help make their EA efforts actionable through Microsoft technologies. The EATK which is a solution accelerator not a product, does have unique methodology and process components that could be contributed to an open standards bodies such as IASA, Open Group, EACOE or Zachman as examples. But is it a framework? No it is not. It is one tool in the EA Toolbox.

To further this notion, below is a snapshot of a mapping matrix on how the EATK aligns with TOGAF’s Architecture Development Method (ADM):

ADM Phase ADM Steps Scope Alignment with EATK
A. Architecture Vision 1. Project Establishment Limited Integration with Project Portfolio Server
  2. Identify Business Goals and Drivers In Principles, Policies and business drivers that are captured at the corp. level and at the solution levels
  3. Review Architecture In Captured in the System Architecture Document
Discoverable through the Architecture Metadata Repository (AMR)
Collaboration mechanisms for sharing and validation of architectures
  4. Review Architecture Principles and Business Principles In EATK allows users to review Principles, Policies and Standards on the EA Portal.
  5. Define Scope
– Breadth of architecture coverage
– Level of detail to be defined
– Domains that should be covered
– Schedule concerns
– Assets to be leveraged
In Currently covered in the System Architecture Document
AMR Pattern References allow for access to patterns
  6. Define constraints
– Time, Schedule or Resources
Limited Covered by Office Portfolio Server for PPM Practice
  7. Identify Stakeholders and concerns, Business Requirements, and Architecture Vision Limited Covered by Office Portfolio Server for PPM Practice
  8. Document the Architecture Statement of Work In Currently covered in the System Architecture Document. However this is a manual activity with little automation
  9. Get Approval for Architecture Statement of Work In Currently covered in the System Architecture Document. However this is a manual activity with little automation.
Windows Workflow foundation is setup to do this task.
       
       
B. Business Architecture 1. Develop baseline architecture description In Supports the document management and workflow aspects however there is limited automation to these tasks.
  2. Identify reference models, viewpoints, and tools In Supports the document management and workflow aspects however there is limited automation to these tasks.
  3. Create Business Architecture Models In Supports the document management and workflow aspects however there is limited automation to these tasks.
  4. Select Business Architecture Models In Supports the document management and workflow aspects however there is limited automation to these tasks.
  5. Conduct a formal checkpoint review of models with stakeholders In Supports the document management and workflow aspects however there is limited automation to these tasks.
  6. Review non-functional criteria In Supports the document management and workflow aspects however there is limited automation to these tasks.
  7. Complete the business architecture In Supports the document management and workflow aspects however there is limited automation to these tasks.
  8. Perform gap analysis and create report In Supports the document management and workflow aspects however there is limited automation to these tasks.
       
C. Information Systems Architecture 1. Develop baseline architecture description(s)
– Conceptual Data Model
– Logical Data Model (views of information rele
vant to arch)
– Data Management Models (life cycle, management view, etc)
In This is accomplished in many ways:
1. System Architecture Document – This document template provides the mechanism in which to document your baseline descriptions. The document conforms to TOGAF from a method and artifact perspective and IEEE 1471 from an information model. The document uses a 1471 supported custom XML schema to represent information inside the document.
2. Architecture Meta-Data Repository (AMR) – This facility provides the architect with the right information to support the creation of a baseline description.
3. EATK Collaboration Mechanisms – Architectures have multiple viewpoints which means that there will most likely be more than one architect working on a particular architecture. There are built in collaboration features to aid in developing the architecture baseline.
  2. Review and validate principles, select reference models, viewpoints, and tools In 1. AMR Pattern References – The core to this task is being able to surface this information to the architect. The AMR provides this facility by integrating both into Microsoft Word System Architecture Document and through SharePoint Portal for architects.
2. EATK Custom Workflows – Validation can occur through the sample architecture review and Architecture Review Board (ARB) processes.
  3. Create Architecture Models In There are a variety of activities have to occur to create architecture models.
1. System Architecture Document – First you need a place to describe those modes. The EATK uses the System Architecture document for this task.
2. Visio – Most architects and developers use Visio to model their architectures. The EATK has linked valuable information from the AMR so that the shapes in the model link to real assets and patterns.
3. AMR Pattern References – The AMR provides the facility for storing assets and building blocks that an organization has standardized upon.
  4. Select Architecture Models In Selection of a model usually entails the architect has a way to view the current approved building blocks and then must go through an approval process to validate the selection. The EATK does this through two key components:
1. System Architecture Document Patterns Browser Task Pane / EA Portal
2. Architecture Review Board Process
  5. Identify Candidate Applications In AMR Pattern References
  6. Conduct a formal checkpoint review of the Architecture Model and Building Blocks with stakeholders In Architecture Review Board Process
AMR Pattern References
EATK Collaboration Mechanisms
EATK Custom Workflows (Sample WF provided)
  7. Review Non-Functional Criteria In Document Templates in document libraries
  8. Complete Architecture In Integration of System Architecture Document into workflow
  9. Conduct Checkpoint/Impact Analysis In Architecture Review Board Process
AMR Pattern References
EATK Collaboration Mechanisms
EATK Custom Workflows (Sample WF provided)
  10. Perform Gap Analysis and Create Report In Template in a document library
       
D. Technology Architecture 1. Develop Baseline Technology Architecture Description In There are a variety of activities have to occur to create Architecture Descriptions.
1. System Architecture Document – First you need a place to describe those modes. The EATK uses the System Architecture document for this task.
2. Visio – Most architects and developers use Visio to model their architectures. The EATK has linked valuable information from the AMR so that the shapes in the model link to real assets and patterns.
3. Metadata Repository Integration – XML Web services layer to allow third party tools to submit architecture descriptions to repository.
4. Architecture Decision Template – A tool used to iteratively build a series of decision against an architecture.
  2. Create Target Technology Architecture In Same as above in baseline technology architecture
  3. Create a Baseline Technology Architecture Reference Models, Viewpoints and Tools In Same as above in baseline technology architecture
  4. Consider an Architecture Model of Building Blocks In Same as above in baseline technology architecture
  5. Select the Services Portfolio per Building Block In Same as above in baseline technology architecture
  6. Confirm that the Business Goals and Objectives are Met In Mapping to business architecture is supported but will need to be custom developed through the UI of choice.
  7. Choose the Criteria for Specification Selection In Same as above in baseline technology architecture
  8. Complete the Architecture Definition In Same as above in baseline technology architecture
  9. Conduct Gap Analysis In Gap analysis supported with repository placeholders to correlate that information with an architecture
       

As shown above, Microsoft can be an enabler of these EA practices. There are similar mappings with other industry adopted EA frameworks. In general Microsoft has always been an enabler with their products. Microsoft has a real opportunity to bring these solutions together by
orchestrating the platform in a meaningful way.

So my take on this is that Microsoft really shouldn’t be in the business of creating EA frameworks. There isn’t a whole lot of value for Microsoft to do that. If you look around at the industry, you will see that most of the players that did create EA frameworks are now consolidating them into standards bodies. Those include:

  • IBM
  • Cap Gemini
  • SAP
  • EA Tool Vendors
  • Governments like the Netherlands
  • etc.

We should leave this up to the industry to define, they have the expertise here. I think there are particular aspects to an EA framework Microsoft can contribute and innovate to, but owning and building from scratch is something I feel isn’t a good idea.

Martin Sykes, a senior architect in the UK had summed it up perfectly:

Customers rarely ask us to provide them with a complete EA framework and methodology but they do want to know how we can help them improve what they have – and this has meant we need to be able to judge the situation, identify the weaknesses and then apply the right combination of perspectives from business, solution, technology, governance, portfolio mgmt etc.

However, there are many other examples on how Microsoft is helping provide thought leadership, guidance and tools in the Enterprise Architecture space. Below are direct and indirect examples:

  1. Guidance on the Microsoft Enterprise Architecture Portal
  2. Guidance and Thought Leadership on Blogs from Microsoft Employees:
    1. Nick Malik
    2. Gabriel Morgan
    3. Mike Walker (Me) – [EA Specific]
    4. Full list of Microsoft architect blogs here and architecture community blogs
  3. Development and Operations frameworks such as Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), which also include the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF)
  4. Methodologies and tools to tackle capability modeling and analysis through Microsoft Business Architecture (MSBA)
  5. Tools and Platform Products that aid with Service Management, ALM, Operations and PPM. Some of these  that include (not going to list them all):
    1. Project Portfolio Server – APM and PPM
    2. SharePoint – Centralized Process/Workflow, Collaboration, ECM, Portal, etc.
    3. Visual Studio Team System – Development asset repository, development process support, class modeling through new UML support, etc.
    4. Systems Center – Operational / Service management
    5. Dynamics – Incident management, Green IT dashboards, etc.
    6. Oslo – Model driven development support and deployment

 

So in summary, where I think Microsoft can add value is by enabling these industry frameworks through our unique products, platforms, thought leadership, frameworks and guidance by orchestrating them in a meaningful way. The EATK does this by rationalizing the platform assets with EA specific business knowhow on top of a extensible platform we can address key EA scenarios. By extending this toolkit and other like it (MSBA, MOF, MSF, etc. ) I think we can make these EA frameworks much more actionable.

What do you think?

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