TOGAF and ArchiMate Come From the Same Stable

TOGAF and ArchiMate come from the same stable – they are both EA standards managed and maintained by The Open Group®. But to what extent do they overlap or complement each other? How can they be used in combination? And how can we overcome any limitations they might impose?

Let’s start by clarifying what each provides:

  • Although TOGAF is billed as an architecture framework, it could be more accurately described as a “body of knowledge” and a “framework of frameworks”. It is a body of knowledge describing some aspects of EA practice, with its strongest and most detailed content describes the process for developing architectures – the ADM. It also includes a set of frameworks – covering areas such as capability, content, governance, and skills.
  • ArchiMate is a formal, graphic language for describing or modelling architectures.

While neither provides a “complete” approach to Enterprise Architecture, TOGAF and ArchiMate complement each other. TOGAF describes a process for developing architectures which requires us to document the baseline, transition and target architectures and express stakeholders concerns through views that show pertinent aspects of the architecture. While ArchiMate gives us a modelling language, with a standard set of shapes and colours to graphically present these various views.

Both TOGAF and ArchiMate follow the basic concepts of EA that are defined in the ISO/ IEC 42010 standard. This standard describes concepts such as stakeholder, concerns, viewpoints, and view. These are constructs that are important in both TOGAF and ArchiMate.

The ISO standard also distinguishes between the architecture of a system and the artffacts created to document that architecture – the “architecture description”. Although it provides recommendations on what should be included in an architecture description, it doesn’t prescribe the form that it should take.

TOGAF, in the ADM and the various guidelines and techniques, provides a process for developing architecture. It also provides examples of various viewpoints and views. In the Enterprise Continuum it describes the concept of a virtual architecture repository containing artifacts and reference models. While the ADM will never document the exact ways that every architecture team works, it is indicative of the key architecture tasks.

In contrast, ArchiMate doesn’t describe how we architect; it provides a formal way for documenting what we produce – the descriptions of the architecture. Now you might say that this was already covered in the TOGAF Content Framework and Metamodel. In fact, there is quite a lot of overlap and similarity in the components described in TOGAF and those included in ArchiMate. At the high level, both divide EA into domains or layers: in TOGAF we have the business, information systems (data and application) and technology architectures, while in ArchiMate we have the Business, Application and Technology Layers (the application layer includes the data and application domain).

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Roger has been working as an Enterprise Architect since 1984, and over the years has been in involved in some of the most advanced, innovative and challenging Enterprise Architecture projects. He has extensive experience in applying all of the key EA approaches, including Zachman, TOGAF and Information FrameWork (IFW) and has been involved in establishing and embedding Enterprise Architecture Programmes that delivered strategic business results in organisations all around the world. Roger now works as a trainer, mentor and coach, specialising in developing individual and organisational capability in using Enterprise Architecture techniques and tools.