Ruler and compass for the enterprise architect

When integrators embark on an enterprise architecture project, they usually take a software tool along with them.

Visual modeling products from companies such as Computas

and Popkin Software and Systems Inc. have become staples of the

enterprise architecture trade. The vendors' tools are used to create

and maintain models — the primary building blocks of an

architecture.

"An integrator needs a good partnership with tooling partners," said Bruce Lang, enterprise data architect at EDS.

Software products simplify architecture building, according to industry executives. Attempts to document architecture via a jumble of Microsoft Corp. PowerPoint slides, Visio diagrams and Excel spreadsheets will encounter high maintenance costs, said Bill Wright, president and chief executive officer of Computas' North American division. A specialized modeling tool, however, makes it easier to capture and maintain architectural models, he said.

The tools also provide the means for accessing a given agency's architecture. Computas' Metis features Model Browser, which lets customers navigate enterprise architecture models published on the Internet or an intranet. Popkin's SA Information Publisher component of System Architect, meanwhile, creates a Web site for an organization's models and provides templates that let users query the models.

Vendors provide more than tools, however. EDS has worked with Popkin to develop custom enterprise architecture training for government clients, Lang said.

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