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Beyond the Zachman framework: Problem-oriented system architecture

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1 Author(s)
Robertson-Dunn, B. ; Nicholls, ACT, Australia

The year 2012 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of “A framework for information systems architecture,” written by John Zachman and published in the IBM Systems Journal. The first part of this paper reviews the Zachman and similar frameworks and concludes that there are a number of limitations in the framework approach when applied to today's technology environment and business problems. These include the inability of the problem owner to properly describe a solution, the partitioning approach, and the decision-making processes in the context of uncertainty and change. The second part of this paper analyzes today's problems and allocates them to one of three classifications: tame, complex, and wicked, depending on the degree of certainty and stability of knowledge and decisions in both the problem and the solution domains. The final part outlines an approach to problem-solving and architecture development using techniques borrowed from cybernetics and control theory. It proposes that partitioning should be determined by the nature of the problem and potential solutions; that feedback loops should be implemented in order to control the process; that the architect should work across the business problem and solution spaces; and that decisions should be related to business value.

Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.  

Published in:

IBM Journal of Research and Development  (Volume:56 ,  Issue: 5 )