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DMBoK Figure 22 Simplified Zachman Framework

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

The most well-known enterprise architectural framework, the Zachman Framework, was developed by John A. Zachman in the 1980s. It has continued to evolve. Zachman recognized that in creating buildings, airplanes, enterprises, value chains, projects, or systems, there are many audiences, and each has a different perspective about architecture. He applied this concept to the requirements for different types and levels of architecture within an enterprise.

The Zachman framework is an ontology - the 6 x 6 matrix comprises the complete set of models required to describe an enterprise and the relationships between them. It does not define how to create the models. It simply shows what models should exist.

The two dimensions in the matrix framework are the communication interrogatives (i.e., what, how, where, who, when, why) as columns and the reification transformations (Identification, Definition, Representation, Specification, Configuration, and Instantiation) as rows. The framework classifications are represented by the cells (the intersection between the interrogatives and the transformations). Each cell in the Zachman framework represents a unique type of design artifact.

Communication interrogatives are the fundamental questions that can be asked about any entity. Translated to enterprise architecture, the columns can be understood as follows:

  • What (the inventory column): Entities used to build the architecture

  • How (the process column): Activities performed

  • Where (the distribution column): Business location and technology location

  • Who (the responsibility column): Roles and organizations

  • When (the timing column): Intervals, events, cycles, and schedules

  • Why (the motivation column): Goals, strategies, and means

Reification transformations represent the steps necessary to translate an abstract idea into a concrete instance (an instantiation). These are represented in the rows: planner, owner, designer, builder, implementer and user. Each has a different perspective on the overall process and different problems to solve. These perspectives are depicted as rows. For example, each perspective has a different relation to the What (inventory or data) column:

  • The executive perspective (business context): Lists of business elements defining scope in identification models.

  • The business management perspective (business concepts): Clarification of the relationships between business concepts defined by Executive Leaders as Owners in definition models.

  • The architect perspective (business logic): System logical models detailing system requirements and unconstrained design represented by Architects as Designers in representation models.

  • The engineer perspective (business physics): Physical models optimizing the design for implementation for specific use under the constraints of specific technology, people, costs, and timeframes specified by Engineers as Builders in specifications models.

  • The technician perspective (component assemblies): A technology-specific, out-of-context view of how components are assembled and operated configured by Technicians as Implementers in configuration models.

  • The user perspective (operations classes): Actual functioning instances used by Workers as Participants. There are no models in this perspective.

As noted previously, each cell in the Zachman Framework represents a unique type of design artifact, defined by the intersection of its row and column. Each artifact represents how the specific perspective answers the fundamental questions.

DAMA Data Management Body of Knowledge 2nd Edition, 2017, Print.

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