Friday, September 09, 2011

The Topography of Enterprise Architecture

#entarch A lot of the terminology of enterprise architecture depends on some basic categories and distinctions, which help to define the dimensions for various schemas and frameworks.
  • Top-down / Bottom-up
  • Ideal / Real
  • Abstract / Concrete
  • Espoused / In-Use

But the meaning of these terms depends on your perspective. See for example my previous post What Does "Top-Down" Mean?

One popular categorical distinction is between “ideal” and “real”, with a progressive series of intermediate states. This category implies a process known as “realization” moving from the “ideal” towards the “real” (for which the Zachmanites prefer the mediaeval word “reification”), and a contrary process known as “idealization” moving from the “real” towards the “ideal”.

(The Zachmanites claim that this distinction derives from some unnamed ancient Greek philosophers, but I have not been able to verify this claim. The earliest sources I can find for this idea are mediaeval Christian and Arabic philosophers such as Ibn Arabi and Ockham.)

But it is interesting to see exactly what people regard as more “real”. For example, many people seem to think that the technology model is more “real” than the business model. In other words, a pattern of magnetic dots on a physical data storage device counts as more “real” than the flesh-and-blood customer that this pattern of dots represents. Such a technologically based notion of “reality” may be useful for some purposes, but it is inescapably a technological perspective. And no EA framework that uncritically adopts a technologically based notion of “reality” can claim to be free of a technological bias.

No comments: