Zachman Ontology, not Framework?

Time to rename it?

There is an interesting discussion on the Zachman Framework LinkedIn group, about the practical use and tool support for the Zachman Framework. I’ve put up a couple of comments because

  1. the Zachman Framework is not a good basis for a practical EA use or tool support, and
  2. it is about time that it was renamed as the Zachman Ontology as it is not a framework in the correct EA use of the term.

Here are some of my key points:

The comparison of the Zachman Framework to the Periodic Table is very apt – they are both useful references:

  • You can learn a lot from the Zachman Framework (although there are better ways to explain the concepts), but it is not intended to be the interface to an EA tool.
  • To create practical architecture management tools or software support you need to deconstruct the elements (or atoms) described in the Zachman’s ontology and re-combine them as a set of simple, more practical diagrams, matrices or frameworks – commonly known as Multiple Integrated Architecture Frameworks (MIAFs).
  • These simpler frameworks would be a better starting point as the basis for software support!

The Zachman “Framework” is an Ontology:

  • John Zachman makes this clear in his presentations when he says that:

“The Zachman Framework schema technically is an ontology – a theory of the existence of a structured set of essential components of an object for which explicit expression is necessary (is mandatory?) for designing, operating and changing the object”.

  • John also says:

“The Zachman Framework is NOT a methodology for creating the implementation (an instantiation) of the object”.

“An architecture framework establishes a common practice for using, creating, interpreting, and analyzing architecture descriptions within a particular domain of application or stakeholder community. ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010 formalizes a framework as a set of predefined, interconnected viewpoints.”

So maybe it is time to refer to the Zachman “Framework” correctly as the Zachman Ontology?

By doing that we can make a clear distinction between ontology, methodology and framework!