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.


  • Defense
    Ryan D. McCarthy being sworn in as Army Secretary Oct. 10, 2019. (Photo credit: Sgt. Dana Clarke/U.S. Army)

    Army wants to spend nearly $1B on cloud, data by 2025

    Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said lack of funding or a potential delay in the JEDI cloud bid "strikes to the heart of our concern."

  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.