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Book Review: Enterprise Architecture Using the Zachman Framework, Part 2

Published
  • September 01 2003, 1:00am EDT

In June, I briefly reviewed a recently published book: Enterprise Architecture Using the Zachman Framework by Carol O'Rourke, Neal Fishman and Warren Selkow. This month, I discuss the book in more detail.

Enterprise Architecture Using the Zachman Framework is an excellent book for all who need to understand and manage the planning, design and construction of any complex endeavor. The book uses the Zachman Framework to teach its readers how to think and how to solve complex problems. This is illustrated by its structure.

Chapter 1 introduces John Zachman, the originator of the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture. The chapter provides a short overview of enterprise architecture to establish context.

It is in Chapter 2 that the book draws you in and its beauty starts to emerge. It provides a glimpse of the gems of knowledge that lie ahead in later chapters. The authors have turned to history to introduce their message. Every problem must be examined in terms of the six aspects: what, how, where, who, when and why. They start with the pyramids of Egypt. These structures are wonders of engineering. Together, they take us into the mind of Imhotep, architect of the Great Pyramid. In their hands, the enormity of the task that Imhotep faced comes to life. We join Imhotep as he grapples with problems of planning, designing and constructing using the available technologies of his time. We soon realize he also must develop systems for project management, resource management and accounting –­ so that he can administer all aspects of this massive project.

Wow! What a great way to introduce the thinking encouraged by enterprise architecture. As Chapter 2 further unfolds, the power of their approach becomes evident, for they then continue a journey through history. They move us forward thousands of years to the Cathedral of Chartres, built in the 12th century. This cathedral was the first of the great Gothic cathedrals. They take us to the Manhattan Project, where we consider the problems associated with the design and construction of the atomic bomb. This brought World War II to an end, but also ushered in the nuclear age. From there, we move to Levittown and the construction of housing for the U.S. veterans returning from World War II. Each of these was a complex project involving new problems that had to be resolved. Each project is introduced using the six aspects of the Framework. We move forward to the Apollo mission: to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Chapter 2 finally closes with the design and construction of the first all-digitally designed airplane: the Boeing 777.

Whereas Chapter 2 took us through the perspective of the planner, Chapter 3 moves us through the perspective of the owner. Each succeeding chapter takes us through the remaining perspectives: designer (Chapter 4), builder (Chapter 5), subcontractor (Chapter 6) and the functioning enterprise (Chapter 7).

In Chapter 3, we learn about different types of organizations from the perspective of the owner. We consider the 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra automobile. We discuss the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the dot-com enterprises and their demise in the stock market downturn of 2000. We look at public education, Coca Cola, Walt Disney, Movie Outpost, Keane, Cascade Engineering and Equifax. These case studies help us to understand issues with which the owner must be aware. Each is considered in terms of what, how, where, who, when and why.

Chapter 4 takes us into the mind of the designer. We learn about the role of the designer at Lockheed in designing an aircraft capable of flying at a sustained speed of Mach 3. We discuss the role of people in meetings as a way of understanding the different types of personalities and people that a designer must consider in the design solution. We see how Covey's Seven Habits can help the designer. We discuss the impact of office politics and the importance of metrics and life cycles in design.

Chapter 5 uses Napoleon's disastrous march on Russia in the winter of 1812 to introduce the importance of environment and topography to the builder. The builder must ensure that design criteria are satisfied under all circumstances. The impact that the design of the Roman chariot had on NASA centuries later when building the space shuttle demonstrates the longevity of design decisions that can affect the builder. A project at Abbott Laboratories also illustrates the need to meet all design criteria. Rules, standards, units of measure, metrics, statistics and tradeoffs are also considered from the perspective of the builder. Examples are drawn from Oracle and from the .NET initiative of Microsoft. The danger of the builder changing the design –­ without first having that change reviewed by the designer –­ is discussed by considering the collapse of floating walkways in the atrium of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, with its consequent terrible loss of life.

Chapter 6 addresses the technical issues of systems development that are important to the subcontractor. Parallels are drawn from the artistic nature of the subcontractor's task within the enterprise that show how current object- oriented approaches, patterns, extreme programming practices and long-term thinking can be naturally applied to the Framework. This chapter illustrates that art is an important part of computer science.

With Chapter 7, the authors present the functioning enterprise perspective and the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture in its entirety. At this point, you will already understand the clarity of thought behind the Framework. By using the Framework, you can now appreciate its effectiveness in resolving both complex and simple problems. The book concludes by discussing the authors' extension to implementing the Framework in Chapter 8.

I wholeheartedly commend this book to you. It is an outstanding introduction to the concepts and the benefits of the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture. When you have completed it, you will be well prepared to apply these principles to understand and resolve any complex problem that you may encounter in the future.

Book Reference Details: Enterprise Architecture Using the Zachman Framework, Carol O'Rourke, Neal Fishman and Warren Selkow, published by Course Technology, a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. Boston, MA (2003). ISBN: 0-619-06446-3. Publication Date: April 2003.

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