Book Review: Troux Enterprise Architecture Solutions

I recently picked up a copy of Troux Enterprise Architecture Solutions by Richard Reese. I have worked with Troux in a variety of capacities in the past along with stacking them up with the other large Enterprise Architecture Tool vendors. I was naturally interested to see what guidance they have outside of the guidance used to operate and support the actual tool.

I was really surprised by the book as it went in a different direction than I thought it would. I expected the book to be largely about the tool. Using the tool as a lead in to the other Enterprise Architecture topics. This wasn't the case at all but rather the complete opposite. Those aspects were pleasant to see.

I have mixed reactions about the book. Just like with everything there are he good and bad aspects. Below are those aspects that I was able to distill out of the book.

The Good

  • Practical Models – I really like when authors use real world examples. Obviously there are limitations to this from an IP perspective, however to show how these abstract concepts in  relatable scenarios that the reader would run across is extremely important.
  • Right level of Theory and Practice – The book isn't too abstract as EA can get sometimes. There is a theme of practicality to the book.
  • Visualizations – the chapter on visualizations was really drove the point home. It gave the reader a view into the tangible capabilities of Troux. There should be more of this in the book. My only negative here is that I wish the author would of gone into more details on the methods and processes that support these visuals. My fear would be that people would use these out of context. It would of been good to have more chapters like this one with rich visuals.
  • TOGAF Alignment – Overall this chapter was good as well it provided a good overview and touched how Troux addressed TOGAF. I would however would of liked to see on a feature to process alignment matrix to show how much coverage Troux had on the tool.

The Bad

  • Message and Purpose Diluted – I know this may seem fairly harsh, but I found the book to jump around quite a bit. There was a real flow issue with the book content. An example of this is Chapter 5 where organizational models are gone into depth while other chapters such as Metadata, business values or business alignment are either briefly covered or partially covered. After I read the book I wasn't able to takeaway a key message or theme that the author was trying to drive. This led to more questions than answers. That may of been the intent but it would of been setup for the expectation early in the book as I didn't walk away with "Troux Enterprise Architecture Solutions".
  • High Level – This contradicts a positive point, I know, but the book was detailed in some areas and extremely vague in others. I think this is what really hurts the book.
  • Transformation Platform Architecture – I was really surprised by this chapter. I was expecting more on how to make a platform like Troux scalable functionally along with key patterns to enabling Troux as the EA Knowledge Management tool. However, this chapter doesn't use the same principles that are described to model architectures and doesn't illustrate the architecture of the Troux solution very well. It would be good to see the same models and methods used for LOB applications used to decompose Troux platform to drive the message home.
  • Metadata Management – This chapter went from theory directly into technical configuration really fast. While I really liked the trade-offs between centralized vs. decentralized repositories, I was expecting more tangible examples for the readers on the value and uses of metadata management, architecture Ontologies and Taxonomy and the impacts of social computing on how metadata can be enriched. This could of led to a great set of visuals, use cases, examples of kinds of metadata, formats, key lessons learned and how Troux could make metadata much more manageable and ultimately much more usable.
  • Business Alignment – This chapter was all over the place. There was only one example of alignment and it was from a relatively unknown company. If there was a few companies that could be used as the basis for the methods it would of made this chapter so much better. However without real statistics, business process improvement or value realization metrics this chapter didn't convince me as a reader.
  • Governance – This chapter only focused on standards and the tool. There was no mention of process or people. This is only a very, very small aspect of governance. The organizational structures while fictitious, is a bit misleading as most organizations have a variety of different structures. Finally there was no mention of organizational readiness or maturity that will ultimately drive the activities in which architects establish.
  • Generating Business Value – This chapter was all over the place and was extremely high level. Not a whole lot of value gotten. I found most of the techniques mentioned were out of date with the industry. I was surprised by the RAD comments as this term is really outdated. Agile methods have surpassed RAD and have tangibly demonstrated its value. Why Agile methods are not mentioned was concerning as this is the world today not waterfall or RAD. I expected that to be addressed along with how it fits into EA or Troux.

In summary, the book was a bit of a let down for experienced Enterprise Architects but could be useful as a primer of EA's getting into the role that their company uses Troux. Even in that case this book should be supplemented with another set of resources to balance out the details.

Regardless, check out the book for yourself as there is a wealth of visuals that can stimulate you to think about how to make better IT decisions and to better position the value of EA.