Monday, 2 July 2012

Developing Reference 'Things' - Reference Architectures, Reference Models, Reference Frameworks

I have spent a lot of time in recent years developing various reference 'things' for clients and as part of our own research. Whether it has been SOA, Enterprise Architecture, Cloud Computing or more recently Enterprise Mobility, one thing has been clear - that organizations often lack a framework that should form the basis for consistency in these domains.

It is tempting, and common practice, for organizations to respond by acquiring such a framework 'off the shelf'. TOGAF in the EA domain would be a prime example. However, in our experience such 'off the shelf' solutions rarely provide a 100% match to requirements and must be customized and extended to be effective, especially if you want them to be easily assimilated by the organization and not become divisive. Nothing is worse for example than EA becoming just another silo because people don't agree with the framework foisted upon them.

Moreover, there is rarely a consistent understanding of what is required of a reference 'thing', as I pointed out in my research note on Cloud Computing Reference Architectures, Models and Frameworks. When asked by clients to help them develop a reference architecture for example, my first question is invariably  "what do you mean by reference architecture?", and I am not surprised when I get more than one different answer from the folks involved.

Hence it became apparent to me as I worked across these different domains that what was required was a reference framework for reference frameworks! Consequently, I set about defining a generic reference framework that I could apply to any domain, and then more importantly, in response to the requirement I outlined above to customize and extend frameworks to match an organization's needs, I developed a repeatable process for establishing a reference framework together with some 'tools' for gathering requirements and assessing the as-is situation plus any candidate solutions. Follow the link for an overview published on the Everware-CBDI website.

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