Yesterday Oracle annonced their EA framework at Open World 2009. Wow, where do we start here? This could be such a big topic. Let's start with giving a big thanks to Todd Bikse for providing us with the great analysis from the event.
Some of the key points that Todd highlighted were:
Todd B: There’s a slide up now that shows a simple view of what they consider to be the core. It has the standard three tier view of user interaction at the top, application services in the middle, and a technology foundation at the bottom. In between the user interaction and the application services layers is a composite business process layer.
MJW: I am wondering why this sounds so much like detailed solution architecture rather than EA. An EA framework doesn't define the implementation nessessarly. I am hoping that this is an example of a reusalble pattern that is some how incorpoarted into their repository.
Todd B: The Oracle Architecture Development Process looks very TOGAF like, the Oracle Enterprise Architecture Framework consists of business architecture, application architecture, information architecture, and technology architecture, with people, processes, and tools on one vertical and EA governance on the other vertical. Underneath it all is an EA repository.
MJW: I am really looking forward to hearing the details behind the implementation of this repository and how Oracle plans to position this against other EA repositories. If there was any area of this that does make sense it is Oracle getting in the metadata repository business.
Again, thanks Todd for the updates!
My initial reaction to this was, do we need yet another EA framework? It certainly seems like there is a new framework popping up all the time now. This surely this has an effect on the enterprise architecture community. Not sold yet that it is a good thing. I would personally like to see the enterprise architecture community as a whole come together and build the right EA framework. The project management and the operational management communities did it, why can't we? How hard could it be? I do honestly believe that it is hard, but there are some things we can do to get us closer to where we need to be.
Second reaction was that I couldn't do much of a deep dive because I didn't find a whole lot of information on Oracle's website. What I did find was the Oracle EA Framework Whitepaper which gives a very high level description of the framework.
The whitepaper starts out by defining an Enterprise Architecture Framework and then comparing the various EA frameworks. Most of this content you can see influences from TOGAF, FEA and others. The actual evaluation of frameworks ironicly comes from the Microsoft Enterprise Architecture Center in the whitepaper A Comparison of the Top Four Enterprise-Architecture Methodologies.
Overall I really didn't see details that made this unique to anything else. There was a disclaimer in the whitepaper that actually admits to this to a degree.
Oracle created a hybrid EA framework, influenced by TOGAF, FEA and Gartner. This simple yet practical and prescriptive framework is called the Oracle Enterprise Architecture Framework (OEAF). The OEAF is complementary to other EA frameworks, with clear mappings to TOGAF and FEA, such that customers can use the EA framework of their choice.
This looks like Oracle is stating that OEAF complements or augments existing frameworks, right? Well as I read on it looks more like a replacement. If this is to complement or augment then I would hope that a mapping is done between the two. But I see that there are a lot of new terms that conflicts with the notion of leveraging.
Also the statements around "just enough" structure and a process that is created "just in time" I really struggle with. Without further qualification of what these statements mean, I fear potential end users of this framework will very confused on the intent of these statements.
There was some renaming of a few things, a modified TOGAF ADM wheel deemed the Oracle Architecture Process. See below:
There are very loose definitions describing the Oracle Architecture Development Process (OADP). There wasn't much in understanding the micro processes under each of these states. The only detail that was provided on how this is executed was:
Oracle’s approach enables many of these phases to be run concurrently to reduce the time associated with creating architectures of various scopes. Also, the OADP is meant to be a highly iterative process because architectures are developed and refined with feedback.
The OADP doesn't show us a repeatable process that details the roles and responsibilities or inputs and outputs. Maybe the details are coming but nothing was stated as such.
My conclusion after reading the materials on Oracle's Enterprise Architecture Framework is that it is way too high level and didn't provide any real details behind the concepts to be actionable. Keep in mind, most of the information in the whitepaper is general EA materials from folks like TOGAF and alike.
Oracle may have these details under "lock and key" only for customers as a purchase or through a consulting engagement. That needs to be made clear to architects. What was clear, Oracle wants to sell it's reusable intellectual property (IP). It was highlighted in the OADP and referenced throughout the whitepaper.
If this is truly the motivation, don't call this an EA Framework. Call it a guidance repository of reusable patterns certified by Oracle.
If the folks from Oracle would like to chat please let me know. I would like to chat about the details on OEAF.