Skip to main content

Learning Archimate

I've started to evaluate the potential of using the Archimate modelling language for our architecture practice.  As architecture is primarily about communicating ideas, I didn't want to just start using this in my team and leaving everyone else mystified by the strange diagrams we started to produce.  Also, I wanted to judge how best to use the language.  So we arranged training for people from different teams and with different roles, partly to share the knowledge and partly to evaluate which aspects of the language (if any) would suit each teams.

Image result for archimate bolton
Archimate can represent many aspects of a system, starting with the motivations, drivers and stakeholders; moving to map business services and processes; then the applications that provide those services, and finally the infrastructure on which they run. You rarely display all aspects at once; instead there are a host of views that present particular aspects of the system.  The diagram above is taken from a JISC workshop in 2012 and is a motivation view which shows how drivers, goals and principles influence the design of a business process for open days.

Because the language can tell stories that cross all these boudaries, Archimate diagrams may impact may people, including project managers, business analysts, developers, support staff, sysadmins, service owners, and in theory business owners (although in practice I'd expect to use Powerpoint for most business partners).  So for our training session, we brought together one person from each of these roles.  Some could immediately see how the language might be useful to their work.  Others, at the more technical layer, were less convinced, but at least they will be able to understand the diagrams that other people produce and to explain them to others in their team.

Archimate is widely used in the EA world and supported by most major EA tools.  (Architects reading this will probably know more about it than me). We will start by using Archi, the open source tool, to gain experience before choosing a potentially expensive commercial offering.  I plan to start by recasting some of the diagrams we have drawn for ongoing projects, comparing the results in Archimate with the originals, and then looking to see how we can take advantage of the new models to describe more aspects of those systems.  This may take a while; I'll post an update here when I have something to report.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Presentation: Putting IT all together

This is a presentation I gave to an audience of University staff: 

In this seminar, I invite you to consider what the University’s online services would be like, if we worked together to design them from the perspective of the student or member of staff who will use them, instead of designing them around the organisational units that provide them. I’ll start with how the services might appear to that student or member of staff, then work back from there to show what this implies for how we work, how we manage our data, and how we integrate our IT systems. It might even lead to changes in our organisational structure.

Our online services make a vital and valued contribution to the work of our students and staff. I argue that with better integration, more consistent user interfaces, and shared data, this contribution could be significantly enhanced.

This practice is called “Enterprise Architecture”. I’ll describe how it consults multiple organisational units and defines a framework …

Not so simple...

A common approach to explaining the benefits of Enterprise Architecture is to draw two diagrams: one that shows a complicated mess of interconnections, and one that shows a nicely layered set of blocks. Something like this one, which came from some consultants:


I've never felt entirely happy with this approach.  Yes, we do want to remove as much of the needless complexity and ad-hoc design that litters the existing architecture.  Yes, we do want to simplify the architecture and make it more consistent and intelligible.  But the simplicity of the block diagram shown here is unobtainable in the vast majority of real enterprises.  We have a mixture of in-house development and different third-party systems, some hosted in-house, some on cloud infrastructure and some accessed as software-as-a-service.  For all the talk of standards, vendors use different authentication systems, different integration systems, and different user interfaces.

So the simple block diagram is, basically, a l…

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…