DOD's Wisnosky: EA needs notation

Official urges the development of common "primitives" to advance enterprise architecture.

 

When electrical engineers looks at a schematic diagram, they can understand what it says regardless of what language they speak. When musicians sit down and open a musical score, they know what notes to play even if the title and lyrics are in an unfamiliar tongue.


That's because those fields have standardized symbolic languages that are familiar to trained professionals worldwide, said Dennis Wisnosky, chief architect and chief technical officer for the Defense Department's Business Mission Area. There is a particular symbol that indicates where a resistor should be soldered onto a circuit board. Musical notation tells members of the orchestra what notes to play and when.


Nothing like that exists for enterprise architecture, and it should, he said, speaking today at Architecture & Process, a conference presented by Pacificdialogue Trade Show Bureau in downtown Washington.


The enterprise architecture field needs a common set of "primitives," symbols and shapes that any architect can read, he said. They will have to come from standards bodies collaborating to create something that spans the discipline.


"I don't see anybody working on this right now," he said.


Wisnosky advocates developing federated enterprise architectures that encapsulate segments of an organization's work, rather than trying to cover a large mission in one document, he said. Wisnosky favors developing re-usable modules that become available to an organization through a database.


"Everything we build is big, big, big," he said. "My goal is to build it faster, build it lighter, build it better."


Using such reusable modules when possible, and developing a metadata registry to keep track of data that has not yet become part of such a module, can reduce the development time of an effective architecture from several years down to 12 or 18 months, he said.


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