How is ArchiMate® 2 being used by practising architects today?

The ArchiMate® 2 specification was released by The Open Group in December 2011. Based on conversations with customers during our TOGAF® 9.1 training and consulting engagements, we are seeing increasing interest in – and adoption – of ArchiMate® 2 among practising architects.

How is ArchiMate® 2 being used? What kind of models and diagrams are being created – given that ArchiMate® supports the integration of architecture views across all domains of enterprise architecture (Business, Data, Application, Technology)?

It’s early days, but here’s what I’m seeing in the marketplace.

This is a partial view (my view) based on anecdotal evidence. I only know around 15 architects who are using ArchiMate® professionally. But I am also examining examples of ArchiMate® models posted on various Internet forums dedicated to architecture frameworks, meta models, graphical modeling. (Yes, I know. I need to spend more time outdoors…)

What is ArchiMate® being used for?

It appears that ArchiMate® is being used – in the field, by practising professional architects – almost exclusively for modelling current and target application and technology physical architectures.

From what I can see, almost all ArchiMate® architecture models are representations of physical solution architecture – baseline and target. With major emphasis on technology and infrastructure.

What is ArchiMate® NOT being used for?

Unfortunately, ArchiMate® is NOT being used to create views of business architecture. Again, this is based on real-world observations of ArchiMate® used by practicing architects.

This is not surprising, is it?

Few architects spend much time capturing views of business architecture. Don’t take my word for it – pick up any “Solution Architecture Document (SAD)” you find, and tell me how much information it conveys about business architecture. I thought so. The “SAD” is the iconic work product that all solution architects seem spend their professional lives creating.

ArchiMate® provides a sufficient (“fit-for-purpose”) set of concepts and relationships to capture business architecture. Architects should use the complete set of concepts. This is probably a reflection of current professional practice and maturity of the architecture profession. It may also reflect the fact that few solution architects actually have responsibility for capturing views of business architecture. Today, in many organisations, capturing business requirements and business process is work that is assigned to project business analysts – not architects.

Service? Interface? Collaboration? Interaction? Say What?

ArchiMate® defines a range of important and useful concepts in the Business and Application Layers: “Service”, “Interface”, “Collaboration”, “Interaction” – and “Interface” in the Technology Layer.

Occasionally, I see “Application Service” and “Application Interface” being used. But, again, I am not seeing ArchiMate® diagrams that use these concepts frequently. Even when they are applicable and relevant.

Heroic Individuals – Not Team Skills

TOGAF® recommends that architecture teams establish common techniques to be used consistently by all architects (The Architecture Capability Framework). Unfortunately, ArchiMate® seems to be getting used by single individuals within architecture teams.

Diagrams – Not Repository

Most architects are using ArchiMate® to create diagrams. They are not using ArchiMate® to define a re-usable library of architecture objects that is populated into an architecture repository.

Physical – Not Logical

Most architects are using ArchiMate® to represent physical architectures. There is relatively little use of ArchiMate® to define logical architecture concepts, which would enable traceability of physical architecture instances to logical architecture concepts.

The Good News

The good news is that the global community of architects seem to agree that ArchiMate® 2 will become the de facto industry standard meta model and diagramming technique for enterprise architecture.

This means that ArchiMate® will eventually fill the gaping hole that exists today between Visio and other graphic drawing tools, and complicated software modelling languages such as Unified Modelling Language (UML) and SysML, that have been mistakenly used to model enterprise architecture concepts by many architects who had no better tools available.

This is good news, and a step forward.

But there’s still not much business architecture to see – today.

I’m sure this will change over time.