What is TOGAF?

TOGAF is the acronym for The Open Group Architecture Framework and it was developed by The Open Group, a not-for-profit technology industry consortium that continues to update and reiterate the TOGAF. Typically, enterprise architecture isn’t just a structure for organizing all sorts of internal infrastructures. Instead, the goal is to provide real solutions to business needs through analyzing, designing, planning and implementing the right technology in the right ways.

More and more, enterprise architecture also encompasses additional business needs like business process management and data analytics. The goal of an organized enterprise architecture, then, is to successfully execute business strategy with efficiency, efficacy, agility, and security.

If all this sounds like it can be complicated – designing and implementing a clear, long-term solution to all enterprise software in a way that solves business needs – it’s because it is. That’s why enterprise architecture frameworks (EAFs) started emerging informally and formally, as long as five decades ago.

As a subset of computer architecture, enterprise architecture as a field dates back to the mid-1960s. IBM among other companies and universities spearheaded some explicit ways to build enterprise architecture, knowing that all the pieces involved to run on a network are complicated.

Over the next few decades, technology only became more complicated: today, most companies, regardless of size or product, utilize the internet to make their business processes easier, quicker, and sometimes more transparent. Today, enterprise architecture is a necessary process to make sense of various hardware and software options, on premise and in the cloud, and to ensure security when sharing data across multiple platforms.

The TOGAF was initially developed in 1995. As was common in the field of enterprise architecture by then, newer versions or models offered improved iterations and theories. Likewise, TOGAF took a lot of inspiration from the U.S. Department of Defense’s own EAF, called the Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management, or TAFIM for short. Interestingly, the USDoD stopped using the TAFIM within a couple years of the emergence of TOGAF. Still, TOGAF implementation and success continues worldwide today, more than 20 years later.

The TOGAF approach to EAFs

The Open Group defines the TOGAF as the “de factor global standard for enterprise architecture”. The framework is intended to help enterprises organize and address all critical business needs through four goals:

  • Ensuring all users, from key stakeholders to team members, speak the same language. This helps everyone understand the framework, content, and goals in the same way and gets the entire enterprise on the same page, breaking down any communication barriers.
  • Avoiding being “locked in” to proprietary solutions for enterprise architecture. As long as the company is using the TOGAF internally and not towards commercial purposes, the framework is free.
  • Saving time and money and utilizing resources more effectively.
  • Achieving demonstrable return on investment (ROI).

3 Pillars of TOGAF

If the four goals are the theoretical outcome of using TOGAF, then the three pillars are the way to achieve the goals. These pillars help create a systematic process to organize and put software technology to use in a structured way that aligns with governance and business objectives. Because software develop relies on collaboration across various business departments inside and outside of IT, TOGAF’s goal of speaking the same language encourages and assists the various stakeholders to get on the same page, something that may not otherwise happen in business environments.

The TOGAF is divided into three main pillars:

  1. Enterprise architecture domains. These divide the architecture into four key areas, (sometimes shortened to ‘BDAT areas’):
    • Business architecture, which defines business strategy and organization, key business processes, and governance and standards.
    • Applications architecture, which provides a blueprint for deploying individual systems, including the interactions among application systems as well as their relationships to essential business processes.
    • Data architecture, which documents the structure of logical and physical data assets and any related data management resources.
    • Technical architecture (also known as technology architecture), which describes the hardware, software, and network infrastructure necessary to support the deployment of mission-critical applications.
  2. Architecture Development Model (ADM). This iterative cycle uses performance engineering to develop an actual enterprise architecture. Importantly, it can be customized to the enterprise’s needs, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Once an architecture is developed, the enterprise can roll it out to all teams or departments in iterative cycles, ensuring minimal errors and further helping the company communicate cohesively.
  3. Enterprise Continuum. This classification system tracks architecture solutions on a range, starting at generic, industry-standard options and including customized enterprise-specific solutions.

Benefits of using TOGAF

The benefits of ADM are that it is customizable to organizational need – there’s no need to create a structure that doesn’t serve your business. These smaller packages are also scalable, so if one team rolls it out, it can successfully be rolled out to other teams without much tweaking. This helps the enterprise establish a process with multiple check points, so that there are few errors the wider the architecture is implemented. Some experts in enterprise architecture point out that while TOGAF may appear very logical, it’s actually quite a shake up to traditionally educated technology consultants today – but perhaps this will change as TOGAF adoption continues along steadily.