For years, we’ve been living with Zachmann and now TOGAF as commercially available EA frameworks, but honestly, they don’t address the problems faced by large organziations with respect to complexity.

The Federal Enterprise Architecture does.  That’s because of a few things that the Federal Government has that we (in the commercial sector) don’t:

1) Scale.  The US Federal Government is a model for a very large and distributed organization.  Different agencies have completely different reasons to exist.  They are like independent businesses.  That size and mission has the same effect on their computing infrastructure as you’d expect for a corporation: lots of duplication, incompatible data models, and a mess of integration challenges.  They face the worst, so any model that works there can be pared down to work anywhere else.

2) Stability of Vision.  Face it, most organizations, when trying to develop their Enterprise Architectures, gave up way too soon to see benefits.  The US Federal Government doesn’t operate the same way.  While businesses think about the next quarter and the next year, Congress thinks about the next decade and the next century.  In order to provide consistency over long periods, legislation is a good tool.  Corporations DON’T WRITE DOWN things akin to legislation, and as a result, there is no consistent reason to keep doing things that will help in five years, but won’t help now.  As a result, the feds have a consistency of vision that is enviable in the field of Enterprise Architecture.

3) Public openness.  We paid for it.  We own it.  There is no reason, nor rationale, to create the FEA behind a closed door.  And therefore, we can all learn from it, and use it, and adapt it.  It’s the ultimate Open Source Enterprise Architecture.

To be honest, we needed someone with that long view to start, run, and keep running.  The Office of Management and Budget is that someone, and their Federal Enterprise Architecture is a very good Version 2.0 of what Enterprise Architecture should look like.  It took 12 years to get to this point.  Perhaps a commercial organization would have gotten here quicker… if they could stick to something for more than a year at a time. 

I think it is time to translate the FEA to the commercial sector, make it fit within current management models for commercial space, and knock off Zachmann once and for all.  ZF was a great start, but it doesn’t work for what we need it to do: control complexity.  The FEA does. 

Judge for yourself.  Look, with open minds, at the FEA.