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Tuesday, March 05, 2002


New Topic. I've been focusing on project management, security and some aspects of service delivery in recent entries here, with some cross-over in Notes from the Field. It's time to introduce a fresh topic, and the catalyst for doing so is a brief conversation between me and Thinking Minds, Inc. CEO, Unmesh Laddha.

Unmesh's company develops portal, knowledge management, and groupware solutions, among other products and services, and he has become intensely interested in the Zachman Framework. He's on the right track because Thinking Minds, Inc. solutions are a close, natural fit to the Zachman Framework.

What is the Zachman Framework? In a nutshell it's a multidimensional model that displays information systems in accordance with:

  • stakeholder viewpoints and perspectives
  • focus - What, How, When, Where, Why (the Who is captured in the stakeholder viewpoints)
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a PowerPoint presentation is worth many more, so I'm going to refer you to Overview of the Zachman Enterprise Architecture for a quick introduction (or refresher if you're already familiar with the Zachman Framework). Another document worth reading is the original 1987 article in which Mr. Zachman introduced the framework. More information can be obtained from Zachman Institute for Framework Advancement.

Anytime you research the Zachman Framework you're going to also see the term Enterprise Architecture Planning. The connection is shown in the PowerPoint presentation titled, Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture. The best book on the subject, in my opinion, is Enterprise Architecture Planning: Developing a Blueprint for Data, Applications and Technology by Steven H. Spewak and Steven C. Hill. My personal copy of this book dates back to 1993, and I've referred to it many times over the years. My first exposure to the Zachman Framework as a foundation for enterprise architecture planning came from this book. Linda also read the book and came away with a completely different perspective, which she documented in her 21 January 2001 review on Amazon. Where I saw a coherent approach to planning and implementing enterprise architectures, Linda saw a direct connection to service delivery. Her perspective is validated in a PowerPoint presentation that I discovered on the web titled, Service Delivery for Virtual Communities. This document ties together Linda's perspective, how one of Thinking Minds, Inc. products called ThinkingWare aligns to the Zachman Framework, and how the Zachman Framework defines an enterprise-wide architecture.

Examples. I made an earlier statement about how the Zachman Framework was a natural fit for portal, knowledge management,and groupware solutions. The following examples, most of which are PowerPoint presentations, support my statement:

Note: the last presentation is a Department of Defense initiative. C4ISR stands for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. The reason I chose this example is the alignment to the complex C4ISR architecture is a much more difficult undertaking than merely applying the Zachman Framework to a commercial enterprise.

End Note. I am by no means finished with this topic. Tomorrow I'll share more presentations and documents, as well as introduce business rules. While business rules are not a part of the Zachman Framework, they do align very closely with the framework.