Federal architects ready glossary of terms

"Enterprise Architecture Glossary Of Terms"

The federal Chief Architects Forum has posted working draft definitions of 175 enterprise architecture terms on its public wiki site.

Volunteers from industry and government are working to define the most common architecture terms, from “application” to “Extensible Markup Language schema.” “Having support helps,” said Ira Grossman, chairman of the forum.

Because the wiki is a public site, people can immediately start commenting on the definitions, but a formalized process will be set up in the next two or three months, Grossman added. Further rounds of rewriting, editing and reviewing still need to be completed, he said.

The project’s goal is to gain consensus among government architecture practitioners on the exact meanings of some commonly used terms. “We’ve got to be talking the same language; by that I mean have the same vision,” Grossman said.

Each term is defined through multiple, though not contradictory, perspectives. The first is an official Office of Management and Budge definition, followed by definitions for business users, a technical definition and possibly additional context definitions.

The definition of the term “federal enterprise architecture,” will likely be controversial, Grossman said. Although immature, the federal architecture is not just a taxonomy, he said. The draft technical definition of federal enterprise architecture states that it “depicts the baseline (as-is) and target (to-be) architectures for the business, data, services, information and infrastructure views of the federal government’s executive branch and includes the gap analysis, sequencing plan and reference models to implement and to attain the expected outcome.”

It is true that necessary architecture enablers such as a repository don’t exist on a federal level yet, Grossman said. But the architecture “is at a very, very immature stage. We’re not even crawling yet. We’re still just kicking our legs back and forth in the crib.”

People often confuse the architecture’s five reference models with the federal architecture itself, he added. But they’re only a part of it, he said.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of open discussion about this, and I think we need this,” Grossman added.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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