Limits to the Use of the Zachman Framework in Developing and Evolving Architectures for Complex Systems of Systems

by Philip Boxer

This presentation was given in collaboration with Suzanne Garcia at the Fifth SEI Architecture Technology User Network Conference on Architecture at all Scales, May 4-7 in Pittsburgh.

Software architects are increasingly being asked to address how their architectural representations relate not only to those of systems (of systems) engineers, but also to the views commonly found in DODAF (Department of Defense Architecture Framework) or other enterprise architecture frameworks. In many cases, these requests made to software architects are part of trying to understand how one software system is likely to interoperate with others that are either inside or outside of the enterprise. Understanding some of the limitations of the Zachman framework and DODAF 2.0 in understanding both software architectures and interoperability in complex systems of systems should make it easier for software architects to place their architectures in relation to these other common frameworks. This presentation describes proposed modifications to the Zachman framework that are required to account for the needs for cross-enterprise collaboration and for accommodating new user needs at a rapid pace. The presentation also highlights a set of modeling elements that are commonly found in multi-enterprise situations. These modeling elements are illustrated in reference to DODAF 2.0 entities to emphasize what is currently missing. The presentation concludes with an example from a modeling approach that addresses these gaps, which is used at the SEI to describe not only the social and technical aspects of systems (including software systems), but also their relationship to the changing demands (especially user needs) placed upon them.

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