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Kyle Gabhart

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The journey of a thousand miles in architecture education begins with one step – TOGAF 9 training

OK, so maybe TOGAF education (currently, TOGAF 9.1 is the latest version) is not exactly what Lao Tzu had in mind when describing the importance of taking initiative toward completing a monumental task, but it certainly is an apt metaphor.

Reason #1 – The field of architecture is broad and deep

  1. There are multiple architecture methods (Zachman, TOGAF, FEAF, DoDAF, MoDAF, TRAK, etc.)
  2. There are multiple modeling standards (UML, Archimate, SysML, etc.)
  3. There are multiple architecture styles (SOA, MDM, MOM, EAI, etc.)
  4. There are various architecture modeling tools (Sparx EA, Magic Draw, various Rational tools, Troux, etc.)

Reason #2 – TOGAF offers the most comprehensive approach as a starting point

  1. Offers a comprehensive method – The Architecture Development Methodology (ADM)
  2. Offers a slew of techniques (gap analysis, business scenarios, migration planning, stakeholder management, capability-based planning, and etc.) and concrete artifacts (catalogs, matrices, and diagrams)
  3. Covers the four primary architecture domains (business, data, application, and technology) as well as supporting sub-domains (security and interoperability)
  4. Provides two reference models (TRM and III-RM)
  5. Defines a generic governance framework
  6. Defines a capability framework to address the skills, roles, responsibilities, and team structure side of things
  7. Defines a content framework with an underlying meta-model to support relationships and linkages across architectural model elements

Reason #3 – TOGAF Supports Customization

  1. Encourages alignment with other frameworks and methods (TOGAF and, not TOGAF or)
  2. Defines an explicit place in the life cycle where tailoring makes sense (Preliminary Phase) and logical intersection opportunities with other project / program management disciplines (Preliminary, Architecture Vision, and also Migration Planning)
  3. Defines 3 categories of customization (process, content, terminology)

Reason #4 – Certification is Available

  1. Certification provides confidence that you have really absorbed the body of knowledge
  2. Certification increases confidence in hiring
  3. Certification can be applied to tool selection as well

Important Caveats

  1. TOGAF might be a good FIRST STEP in your EA journey, but there are many other things to learn, experiences to gain, and practical skills to develop BEYOND the core of TOGAF.
  2. Learning TOGAF or even getting certified does not suddenly make you an architect and it certainly doesn’t mean that TOGAF is the right way to solve every problem.  You still need to add in experience, other education, and an experienced practitioner that can guide you in tailoring TOGAF to apply it in a way that is lightweight and packed with value.
  3. Every approach (EA and TOGAF are no different) must be balanced with common sense principles such as ‘what makes sense’ and ‘what is going to drive value’.  Blindly following principles and processes is a recipe for disappointment.

Architecture Education is a Journey

TOGAF is a great first step in your architectural journey of a 1000 miles.  But it is only a first step.  Never stop learning frameworks, styles, and patterns of architecture.  The state of the art can and will change; so be ready.  Get rolling with it, apply elements that make sense, and use it as a solid platform for growing and expanding your architectural toolbox of capabilities.

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Kyle Gabhart is a subject matter expert specializing in strategic planning and tactical delivery of enterprise technology solutions, blending EA, BPM, SOA, Cloud Computing, and other emerging technologies. Kyle currently serves as a director for Web Age Solutions, a premier provider of technology education and mentoring. Since 2001 he has contributed extensively to the IT community as an author, speaker, consultant, and open source contributor.