Monday, February 23, 2009

TOGAF 9 - Enterprise Continuum

The concept of Enterprise Continuum was present in TOGAF 8, but it is a little clearer in TOGAF 9.

What is an Enterprise Continuum? In TOGAF 8, it was defined as "a virtual repository", but this wasn't very clear. In TOGAF 9, it is now defined more explicitly as "a view of the Architecture Repository that provides methods for classifying architecture and solution artifacts as they evolve from generic Foundation Architectures to Organization-Specific Architectures". In other words, it is not the repository itself, but a way of classifying the content of the repository.

The relationship between the generic and the specific has always been a critical dimension of architecture, as I've argued on this blog many times (see label: generic v specific). Enterprise Continuum provides a framework for architects to reason about the right level of generality or specificity for a given artefact.

Here are some implications of this framework.

  • Adaptation and Adaptability - To achieve agility or flexibility, an enterprise or system or solution may need to be under-determined. This is sometimes confused with abstraction. (See my posts on Adaptation and Adaptability.)
  • Strategic Differentiation - Enterprise architects need to understand the ways in which a given company is similar to any other company in the same industy sector, and what particular things differentiate this company from other companies. (See my posts The General and The Particular and Service Planning.)
But although this is a critical question for architects, it is poorly supported by the prevailing tools and methods, which often reduce the question to simplistic abstraction hierarchies. Let us hope that TOGAF 9 stimulates further development in this area.

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