How does the Zachman Framework compare to other frameworks?

on Friday, 14 March 2014. Posted in Zachman International

In response to a PhD student's question

I was asked by a PhD student to fill out a survey for research he was doing about the Enterprise Architecture Frameworks. This is a typical question I get, and it is no wonder because of the confusion about the word "Framework." Just because Enterprise Architect Frameworks have the word "Framework" in their titles, it doesn't mean you can compare the Zachman Framework with them. The Zachman Framework is the ontology. The other frameworks are METHODOLOGICAL frameworks, and the artifacts you create by following those methodologies potentially can be mapped back onto the Zachman Framework Ontology. Nevertheless, I wanted to include my answer to this fine student and thought you'd like to see it too:

My Framework doesn't do anything ... it is an ontology, not a methodology. It is complete, comprehensive and classifies all facts relevant to the existence of an Enterprise. It is the juxtaposition of two classifications used by humanity for thousands of years, the six primitive interrogatives and reification. I discovered this by observing the pattern of architecture for buildings, airplanes, battleships, computers, etc. It is all the same, Architecture is architecture is architecture. Architecture is not a methodology nor methodologically derived. It is a set of descriptive representations used for ENGINEERING ... NOT for manufacturing. Engineering requires normalized views of single variables (facts). Manufacturing requires de-normalized views of multiple variables (facts) relative to a single part (implementation). My opinion is the world is messed up on Enterprise Architecture because of the 75 years or so manufacturing enterprises (building and running systems) instead of engineering enterprises. It was Fred Brooks that said, programming is manufacturing, not engineering.

I won't be able to answer the next question because it is not applicable. It would be like asking if the Periodic Table is useful for people involved with Chemical Engineering ... clearly, it is the basis for everything in Chemical Engineering because without it, there is no Chemical Engineering. Before an ontology, nothing is repeatable and nothing is predictable ... all you have is best practices ... NO discipline. (Before Mendeleev there was no chemistry.) Understand, I am not comparing myself with Mendeleev ... I am sure he knew what he was looking for when he published the Periodic Table. In contrast, I simply saw the Architecture pattern in Industrial Age products and put Enterprise names on them.

The following is an interview I did with Sunil Dutt Jha discussing this very idea:

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