TOGAF - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is an architecture? . . .an architecture description? . . . an architecural framework?
  2. Why do I need an IT architecture?
  3. Why do I need a “Framework” for IT Architecture?
  4. What specifically would prompt me to develop an architecture?
  5. What is TOGAF?
  6. What kind of "architecture" does TOGAF deal with?
  7. Who would benefit from using TOGAF?
  8. What specifically does TOGAF contain?
  9. Just how do you use TOGAF?
  10. How much does TOGAF cost?
  11. Since TOGAF is freely available, why join The Open Group?

1. What is an architecture? . . .

The definition of an architecture used in ANSI/IEEE Std 1471-2000 is: “the fundamental organization of a system, embodied in its components, their relationships to each other and the environment, and the principles governing its design and evolution”.

At the present time TOGAF embraces but does not strictly adhere to ANSI/IEEE Std 1471-2000 terminology. In TOGAF, “Architecture” has two meanings depending upon its contextual usage:

  1. A formal description of a system, or a detailed plan of the system at component level to guide its implementation.
  2. The structure of components, their interrelationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time.

In TOGAF Version 7 we endeavor to strike a balance between promoting the concepts and terminology of ANSI/IEEE Std 1471-2000 - ensuring that our usage of terms defined by ANSI/IEEE Std 1471-2000 is consistent with the standard - and retaining other commonly accepted terminology that is familiar to the majority of the TOGAF readership.  More on terminology...

. . . an architecture description?

An architecture description is a formal description of an information system, organized in a way that supports reasoning about the structural properties of the system. It defines the components or building blocks that make up the overall information system, and provides a plan from which products can be procured, and systems developed, that will work together to implement the overall system. It thus enables you to manage your overall IT investment in a way that meets the needs of your business.

. . . an architectural framework?

An architectural framework is a tool which can be used for developing a broad range of different architectures. It should describe a method for designing an information system in terms of a set of building blocks, and for showing how the building blocks fit together. It should contain a set of tools and provide a common vocabulary. It should also include a list of recommended standards and compliant products that can be used to implement the building blocks.

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2. Why do I need an IT architecture?

The primary reason for developing an architecture is that it provides the technical foundation for an effective IT strategy, which in turn is the core of any successful modern business strategy.

Today’s CEOs know that the effective management and exploitation of information through IT is the key to business success, and the indispensable means to achieving competitive advantage. An IT architecture addresses this need, by providing a strategic context for the evolution of the IT system in response to the constantly changing needs of the business environment.

Furthermore, a good IT architecture enables you to achieve the right balance between IT efficiency and business innovation. It allows individual business units to innovate safely in their pursuit of competitive advantage. At the same time, it assures the needs of the organization for an integrated IT strategy, permitting the closest possible synergy across the extended enterprise.

The technical advantages that result from a good IT architecture bring important business benefits, which are clearly visible in the bottom line:

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3. Why do I need a “Framework” for IT architecture?

Using an architectural framework will speed up and simplify architecture development, ensure more complete coverage of the designed solution, and make certain that the architecture selected allows for future growth in response to the needs of the business.

Architecture design is a technically complex process, and the design of heterogeneous, multi-vendor architectures is particularly complex. TOGAF plays an important role in helping to “demystify” the architecture development process, enabling IT users to build genuinely open systems-based solutions to their business needs.

Why is this important?

Those IT customers who do not invest in IT architecture typically find themselves pushed inexorably to single-supplier solutions in order to ensure an integrated solution. At that point, no matter how ostensibly “open” any single supplier’s products may be in terms of adherence to standards, the customer will be unable to realize the potential benefits of truly heterogeneous, multi-vendor open systems.

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4. What specifically would prompt me to develop an architecture?

Typically, an architecture is developed because key people have concerns that need to be addressed by the IT systems within the organization. Such people are commonly referred to as the stakeholders in the system. The role of the architect is to address these concerns, by identifying and refining the requirements that the stakeholders have, developing views of the architecture that show how the concerns and the requirements are going to be addressed, and by showing the trade-offs that are going to be made in reconciling the potentially conflicting concerns of different stakeholders.

Without the architecture, it is highly unlikely that all the concerns and requirements will be considered and met.

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5. What is TOGAF?

TOGAF is an architectural framework - The Open Group Architectural Framework. It enables you to design, evaluate, and build the right architecture for your organization.

The key to TOGAF is the TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM) - a reliable, proven method for developing an IT architecture that meets the needs of your business.

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6. What kind of "architecture" does TOGAF deal with?

There are several kinds of architecture within the world of Information Technology, so it is important to be clear about what kind of architecture TOGAF is aimed at supporting - and what it is not.

There are four types of architecture that are commonly accepted as subsets of an overall Enterprise Architecture:

Basically, TOGAF is designed to support the last of  these - the development of an Information Technology (IT) architecture. It also addresses those parts of the business, data and application architectures that impact on the development of the IT architecture.

Its main focus is on the software infrastructure intended to support the deployment of core, mission-critical applications. This type of software is sometimes referred to as "middleware", and the architecture as a "technical architecture".

The other types of architecture have close ties with a TOGAF-developed IT architecture:

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7. Who would benefit from using TOGAF?

Any organization undertaking, or planning to undertake, the implementation of an enterprise-wide technical infrastructure for the support of mission-critical business applications, using open systems building blocks.

Customers who design and implement corporate architectures using TOGAF are ensured of a design and a procurement specification that will greatly facilitate open systems implementation, and will enable the benefits of open systems to accrue to their organizations with reduced risk.

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8. What Specifically Does TOGAF Contain?

TOGAF provides a common sense, practical, prudent, and effective method of developing an IT architecture.

TOGAF consists of two main parts:

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9. Just how do you use TOGAF?

TOGAF is published by The Open Group on its public Web site, and may be reproduced freely by any organization wishing to use it to develop an information systems architecture for use within that organization.

Basically, information about the benefits and constraints of the existing implementation, together with requirements for change, are combined using the methods described in the TOGAF ADM, resulting in a “target architecture” or set of architectures.

The TOGAF Standards Information Base (SIB) provides a database of open industry standards that can be used to define the particular services and components required in the products purchased to implement the developed architecture. The SIB provides a simple and highly effective way to procure against an IT architecture.

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10. How much Does TOGAF cost?

The Open Group is a not-for-profit consortium committed to delivering greater business efficiency by bringing together buyers and suppliers of information systems to lower the barriers of integrating new technology across the enterprise.

TOGAF is a key part of its strategy for achieving this goal, and The Open Group wants TOGAF to be taken up and used in practical architecture projects, and the experience from its use fed back to help improve it.

The Open Group therefore publishes TOGAF on its public web server, and allows and encourages its reproduction and use free of charge by any organization wishing to use it internally to develop an information systems architecture. (There are restrictions on its commercial exploitation, however: see specific conditions of use.)

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11. Since TOGAF is freely available, why join The Open Group?

Organizations wishing to reduce the time, cost, and risk of implementing multi-vendor solutions that integrate within and between enterprises need The Open Group as their key partner.

The Open Group brings together the buyers and suppliers of information systems world-wide, and enables them to work together, both to ensure that information technology solutions meet the needs of customers, and to make it easier to integrate information technology across the enterprise.

The Open Group Architectural Framework is a key enabler in this task.

Yes, TOGAF itself is freely available.  But how much will you spend on developing or updating your technical architecture using TOGAF?  And how much will you spend on procurements based on that architecture?

The price of Open Group membership is insignificant in comparison with these amounts.  

In addition to the general benefits of membership, as a member of The Open Group you will be eligible to participate in The Open Group Architecture Program, which is the development program within which TOGAF is evolved, and in which TOGAF users come together to exchange information and feedback.

Members of the Architecture Program gain:

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