Thursday, February 4, 2010

ArchiMate gives business leaders and IT architects a common language to describe how the enterprise works best

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Our next podcast discussion looks at ArchiMate, a way of conceptualizing, modeling, and controlling enterprise architecture (EA) and business architecture.

ArchiMate provides ways to develop visualizations and control of IT architecture to more swiftly obtain business benefits. To learn more, we interview an expert on this, Dr. Harmen van den Berg, partner and co-founder at BiZZdesign.

This podcast was recorded Feb. 2 at The Open Group’s Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference in Seattle the week of Feb. 1, 2010. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: I really enjoyed your presentation on ArchiMate. How did the standard come about?

Dr. Harmen van den Berg: ArchiMate was developed in the Netherlands by a number of companies and research institutes. They developed it, because there was a lack of a language for describing EA. After it was completed, they offered it to The Open Group as a standard.

Gardner: What problems does it solve?

Van den Berg: The problem that it solves is that you need a language to express yourself, just like normal communication. If you want to talk about the enterprise and the important assets in the enterprise, the language supports that conversation.

Gardner: We are talking about more and more angles on this conversation, now that we talk about cloud computing and hybrid computing. It seems as if the complexity of EA and the ability to bring in the business side, provide them with a sense of trust in the IT department, and allow the IT department to better understand the requirements of the business, all need a new language. Do you think it can live up to that?

Van den Berg: Yes, because if you look at other language, like UML, which is for system development and is a very detailed language, it only covers a very limited part of the complete enterprise. ArchiMate is focused on giving you a language for describing the complete enterprise, from all different angles, not on a detailed level, but on a more global level, which is understandable to the business as well.

Gardner: So more stakeholders can become involved with something like ArchiMate. I guess that's an important benefit here.

Van den Berg: Yes, because the language is not focused only on IT, but on the business as well and on all kinds of stakeholders in your organization.

Gardner: How would someone get started, if they were interested in using ArchiMate to solve some of these problems? What is the typical way in which this becomes actually pragmatic and useful?

Van den Berg: The easiest way is just to start describing your enterprise in terms of ArchiMate. The language forces you to describe it on a certain global level, which gives you direct insight in the coherence within your enterprise.

Gardner: So, this allows you to get a meta-view of processes and assets that are fundamentally in IT, but have implication for and reverberate around the business.

Don't have to start in IT

Van den Berg: You don't have to start in IT. You can just start at the business side. What are products? What are services? And, how are they supported by IT?" That's a very useful way to start, not from the IT side, but from the business side.

Gardner: Are there certain benefits or capabilities in ArchiMate that would, in fact, allow it to do a good job at defining and capturing what goes on across an extended enterprise, perhaps hybrid sourcing or multiple sourcing of business processes and services?

Van den Berg: It's often used, for example, when you have an outsourcing project to describe not only your internal affairs, but also your relation with other companies and other organizations.

Gardner: What are some next steps with ArchiMate within The Open Group as a standard? Tell us what it might be maturing into or what some of the future steps are.

Van den Berg: The future steps are to align it more with TOGAF, which is the process for EA, and also extending it to cover more elements that are useful to describe an EA.

It's often used, for example, when you have an outsourcing project to describe not only your internal affairs, but also your relation with other companies and other organizations.



Gardner: And for those folks who would like to learn more about ArchiMate and how to get this very interesting view of their processes, business activities, and IT architecture variables where would you go?

Van den Berg: The best place to go is The Open Group website. There is a section on ArchiMate and it gives you all the information.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: The Open Group.

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