What is “The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)”?

The Open Group Architecture Framework, or TOGAF, is intended to provide a structured approach for organizations seeking to organize and govern their implementation of technology, particularly software technology. In that sense, its objective is to employ an encompassing conceptual framework to try to ensure that software development projects meet business objectives, that they are systematic and that their results are repeatable.

TOGAF was created and is maintained by The Open Group, an independent industry association. It builds on an earlier framework known as TAFIM, or Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management, originally devised by the U.S. Defense Dept. In early 2009, The Open Group released TOGAF version 9. The Open Group and others commonly lead TOGAF certification and educational programs today. Typically, enterprise architects lead use of TOGAF within organizations.

Like its TAFIM forerunner and many other frameworks, TOGAF owes a debt to the work of John Zachman, who created the Zachman Framework, a related schema to facilitate discussion between different software development stakeholders and improve software project and program outcomes. This and similar frameworks seek to effectively organize requirements gathering,to make sure what is built is what is needed. Zachman’s landmark work in the 1980’s while at IBM, brought context to the development process without endorsing a specific software language or methodology. Like TOGAF today, it clarified terms and roles, focusing on the ”What, How, When, Who, Where and Why” of technology implementation.

The basic TOGAF 9 document contains descriptions of an architecture development method and related techniques, an architecture content framework, an enterprise continuum, TOGAF reference models and a capability framework. Version 9 creates a model for extensibility, among other enhancements.

TOGAF need not be used ”whole hog.” While the basic TOGAF document runs to many pages, a pocket-book version is available too. Experienced professionals can focus on the aspects of TOGAF that work best for their organization as they pursue business benefits derived from software innovation.

TOGAF has enjoyed considerable adoption in organizations of diverse character. Its use is seen as a potential systematization of efforts – in the wake of high-profile failures – by governments, businesses and others to apply structured enterprise architecture principles to the still somewhat ”black arts” of software development and IT operations. TOGAF can be used with – or without – service-oriented architecture (SOA), UML and various frameworks, methodologies and tools of modern software development.