Archive for category Enterprise Architecture Book Reviews

97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know

This is an interesting book, it is the collective wisdom of four dozen or so software architects, interestingly only two of them are women.

This is not a book about architectural methodology it quite literally provides 97 points that the contributors feel will make you a better architect. The contributors’ wisdom is delivered in neat bite size nuggets each with a snappy title like “Engineer in the White Space” and “Get the 1000 Foot View” and our favorite “The Business verses the Angry Architect”. Each little essay devotes one or two pages to a topic never going in for too much detail. But that shouldn’t put you off there’s plenty here, particularly for the novice. The range of topics covered is as you might expect for architecture extensive. There are tips on design, communications, method, project leadership, dealing with clients and even presentation skills. And there are more than a few thoughts on architecture as a profession. This is the sort of book you can pick and choose from, read a section here and another one there; all while you’re riding home on the bus.

In fact, if there is a criticism of this book; to be fair, I don’t know how one would avoid it, by its nature the book lacks cohesion. But as pointed out, this is not a methodology book, but it does exude a certain ethos that I fully endorse.

While the topics are only superficially explored; which in itself might not be considered a good example of architectural thinking this doesn’t detract from the books usefulness. It’s principally a light weight thought provoker, if it makes you consider how you practice architecture then it’s repaid the investment.

This is not the book to start your library with, but it should be an early addition. I’d recommend this book to novice architects to add a little color to their reading and suggest that’s probably worthy of a place on most bookshelves. Definitely a thumbs up.

Monson-Haefel, Richard. (2009), 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know, O’Reilly, Sebastopol.

ISBN 978-0-596-52269-8

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Enterprise Architecture Good Practices Guide

If you’ve read any of Schekkerman’s other books this will have a familiar feel to it and it’s not just the cover design. But don’t let that put you off. This isn’t just a rehash of previous books. It’s the development, refinement, collation and summation of a whole body of work from IFEAD, some of which has been presented in previous books.

Without labouring the point; and let’s be honest here far too many architects like to labour for too long over the arcane, Schekkerman has produced a very useful volume. In it’s own words it ” focuses on EA maturity, processes, results, frameworks, methods, tools, roles and responsibilities”. It even manages to touch on issues like stakeholder management and offers a pretty comprehensive eleven aspect maturity model. That even if you don’t agree with the MM  concept you have to concede has some merits.

This is a cohesive set of ideas on EA obviously developed with considerable dedication and attention to detail. There is always the danger of such works being afflicted by intellectual myopia, particularly when penned by self proclaimed thought leaders. Refreshingly however, Schekkerman is not impervious to the ideas of others. He seems quite happy to appropriate and incorporate proven established ideas; a trait that I’m always on the look out for. There really is no single source of truth.

This book is @ 380 pages with plenty of diagrams and focused tightly written paragraphs, which unfortunately all too often degenerate into bullet points. You just know that there’s more to be told. But, then the book would be 3800 pages! So, I guess it’s a pretty good compromise.

This book claims to be for Enterprise Architects, managers and C level executives. I’d go further and suggest that all architects can learn something from this book. This is a good book to start your library with more rigorous and less SDLC centric than most and more accessible than many  of the “Euro” architecture books. Recommended.

Schekkerman, Jaap 2008, Enterprise Architecture Good Practices Guide,Trafford Publishing, Victoria, British Columbia

ISBN 142515687-8


Enterprise Architecture Best Practice Handbook

I can’t deny it I was shocked when I received my copy of this book. It’s a big soft back book 30 x 21 cms but only 120 pages.

And the claims on the back cover “This books covers every detail”, that’s a big claim I thought. It goes on “Professional resources and underlying technology are provided in detail.” But, they are big pages, perhaps there’s a lot of small print, I thought. You can’t imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the first 67 pages look like screen prints of three Powerpoint presentations! My first reaction was how much did I pay for this? At $5 it would have been too much!

The three presentations you’ll get for your money are Establishing Federated IT Architectures, 36 slides with bullet point notes and pointers to the second half of the book. A tutorial on the Zachman Framework, 13 slides with practically no notes. And a 10 slide Executive Overview that wouldn’t fool Mickey Mouse. To add insult to injury the slides aren’t even color, wouldn’t scan well so if you wanted to use them you’d have to recreate your own version (ready for use?); if you’re that desperate give up now you’ll never make an EA. What’s more they don’t even have a consistent style!

The second part of the “Handbook” appears to be five or six first year papers on architecture, none of which are more than superficial and some of which; you guessed it are mostly bullet points, widely spaced in large font with no consistent style, doesn’t inspire confidence.

D for content, F for price and A for stating the obvious.

Handley, Jeff 2008, Enterprise Architecture Best Practice Handbook

ISBN who cares!

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Enterprise Architecture A to Z

I’ve been reading articles by Daniel Minoli for some years now, so it was with some anticipation that I opened this book. It has about 450 pages and two parts. Part one, The Logical Level Enterprise Architecture, Business Process Modeling and SOA. Part two is the Infrastructure Level, Migrating to State of the Art Environments in Enterprises with IT Intensive Assets: Network Virtualization. Not quite the longest title I’ve ever encountered, but I did have to write it down.

There is an interesting contradiction in that the book lists 17 frameworks and standards associated with EA and provides a mathematical definition of an architecture, a degree of rigor that is rare. But, then it covers off the “Official” Enterprise Architecture standards; not very well, in less than ten pages. Perhaps that’s a reflection of how much influence these standards don’t have.

Part one covers Zachman to Business Process Modeling and Service Oriented Architecture Modeling. All reasonably well connected and illuminated with simple but adequate examples while exposing the reader to ideas like MDA, BPML, BPMN, XML, UML, WSDL, SOAP, ESB’s and Service Registries. All at about 10,00 feet. While the book explains the find-bind-execute paradigm it isn’t deep enough to discuss service granularity.

Then almost suddenly at about page 220 the book becomes a hardware overview. It’s all about SAN’s, fiber links and evolving network technologies. Which I contend is too deep for managers and not nearly deep enough to be useful. The next thing you know you are mapping the OSI comms model to the SOA Networking Architecture Framework. (SNAF) and talking about REST. Makes me wonder what the author’s been working on recently. Finally, the book finishes off with an equally shallow section on Virtualization and Grid computing in a strangely unsatisfying way, its almost as if the author was in a hurry to finish the book.

The book is intended for CIOs, CTOs and senior managers and it says so. Basically it is a simplified summary of the current state of EA without the applications. Its of limited use to architects and just detailed enough for managers to get by with; if they don’t push their luck.

Minioli, Daniel (2008), Enterprise Architecture A to Z, CRC, Press, Auerbach Publications, Boca Raton

ISBN 978-0-8493-8517-9


Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture

This is quite an old book now, but glancing around at the current crop of mistakes I see being made it occurs to me that it might be a good time to remind people about patterns. One of the foundations of architecture is reuse and standardization is a means to that end. But where do you get good patterns for something that you’ve never seen before? Well, this book is great start. It opens with what seems a possibly too light introduction to architecture, a problem that it recovers from in stages as it works through what is a pretty good catalog of patterns.

You won’t find all the patterns you need in this book and it clearly states that and it does, not surprisingly, have a bit of a pre SOA feel about it. Which leads to the second observation. That this work is considerably technically deeper than the usual “string em together and stuff on a bus” approach. It contains many UML diagrams and code fragments are scattered throughout the book. The way that these have been arranged in 10 sets of patterns presenting about 50 patterns and supported by three chapters of Narratives (think of these as detail design principles) is what makes this book work.

Inevitably any work as technically detailed as this will be susceptible to obsolesce particularly when you consider the way that the boundaries between application and systems software are being blurred by vendors in pursuit of the next market. But, by and large these patterns stand up well and the fact that you don’t use a pattern doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from it.

Although some time has passed since this book was published its approach, variety and volume 500+ pages mean that there must be something in it for anyone interested in pattern based architecture. You won’t read this book cover to cover, but you should read the narratives once in a while and use part two of the book as a reference.

This really is a book for solution architects and technical leads, enterprise architects and even domain architects probably won’t get that much from it. But should for their own education spend at least a week with it; if for no other reason than improving their risk detection skills.

Fowler, Martin (2003), Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture, Addison Wesley Signature Series, Addison-Wesely, Parson Education, Boston

ISBN 0-321-12742-0


Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises

The book starts with a tight lightweight, but perhaps a little pessimistic introduction to the current EA landscape. But there is no arguing with its key point. That it is managing the complexity caused by moving from an abstract design to the implementation of a physical system that is the major challenge.

As its title suggests this is a very pragmatic work. The first chapter draws together some of the business issues that will influence an architectural design. Here Sessions does a better than average job at summarizing the big business issues that should shape your EA. All too often this sort of detail is overlooked by theoretically orientated works. However, this is also the kind of content that can date a book really quickly, but that’s the price you pay for being specific. The author covers off the Zachman framework, TOGAF and FEA in less than 20 pages and there aren’t that many words on a page in this book.

The book then gets stuck into what I think is its most useful contribution. Complexity, with about 50 pages of pretty good layman’s (as in designed for) explanation of complexity backed up with some math, history and psychology all delivered in a light easy read style. I’d recommend these two chapters to any architect its the things we need to be reminded of from time to time, delivered painlessly.

The second part of the book is literally the quest for simplification. We get about 80 pages out of a total @180 that cover techniques as the author lays out a divide and conqueror strategy based on Autonomous Business Capabilities (ABCs), Enterprise Partitions, a set of patterns and a methodology called SIP (Simple Iterative Partitions). Supported by a typical fictional case study.

Chapter 7 introduces the Software Fortress, which looks to me pretty much like re badged modularity on ACID. I’m not sure why it’s here. I also noticed how SOA (Whatever that is? Fair point) got such short shrift? (Because its IBM?) I was left a little puzzled. But, by then I’d had my monies worth and was happy and it hadn’t been a hard read. I have no doubt that this approach will work, but I am left wondering how well it would work at the big end of town, in the very complex enterprises.

This is not a book to start your collection with and it’s not for managers. It is however, fortresses aside, worth a spot on your bookshelf. From where you should take it down every six months and read chapters 2 and 3 out a loud.

Sessions, Rodger (2008), Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises, Microsoft Press, Redmond

ISBN 13 978-0-7356-2578-5

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I/T Architecture in Action

This book is about IT Architecture and is a methodology based on a technical five domain framework; Applications, Information, Network, Platform and Operations. It addresses each providing pretty much the currently accepted practices for each domain.

This means that over time the book will probably not age that well, but it is a fairly sound summary of the current state of play. It includes areas and concepts like wireless, ESBs, ODS and even SOA and virtualization, in a concise but not very detailed way.  After all it is only 180 pages and there would be books with more  pages on every one of these topics.

The  philosophy of  blending  “strict rigor and organic innovation”  sets this book a little at odds with the Euro architects, but it does produce an easy reading and informative text.  The book opens with the all too common Why EA? sell chapter;  in which he covers off the usual agility verses cohesion issues.  However, I think it is in the next two chapters on Architectural Principles and Governance in which the book makes its real contribution.

Principles seem to be a problem for a lot of architects. Particularly, connecting them in a meaningful way to the design and development domains. This book offers what may be the best twenty odd pages linking business models and strategy to principles that I’ve seen written for the layman.  He goes on to back this up with a simple, but better than average chapter on governance.  In which he rather timidly pokes a stick at the “managerial behavior” elephant. I can almost feel him constraining his frustration to the suggestion of a few metrics for the architectural review board’s performance. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much to say about handling architectural exceptions, but then again not many authors do.

This is a good book, current, and easily read,  a little lightweight and while some sections will with time become obsolete others contain sound advice obviously born of experience.  Not deeply technical or academic it is a more than a fair attempt to bridge the business IT divide. I think most architects would find something useful in this book.

Reese, Richard J. (2008), I/T Architecture in Action, Tyler Westcott

ISBN 978-1- 4363-0505-1

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Real Enterprise Architecture


This book really is about Enterprise Architecture with the emphasis on the enterprise and not the IT architecture. Written by a frustrated practitioner it offers a cohesive while perhaps not as comprehensive as one might like methodology in a very compact 130 + pages including glossary.

The book starts with devastatingly simple proposition that “Enterprise-architecture is the integration of everything the enterprise is and does.” It works for me. The first chapter establishes the methods framework a twenty five cell structure that maps Purpose, People, Preparation, Process and Performance drawn from a project management methodology against five “sideways views”. These are Efficient, Reliable, Elegant, Appropriate and Integrated. While I kind of get the 5 Ps I kind of missed the “sideways views”. I mean Elegant?

The lack of a foundational theory and the immediate progression to a framework is a little alarming particularly when the rest of the book is then dedicated to filling out the framework. Twenty five cells in about 120 pages (less than five pages a cell) with I must say a reasonable amount of white space at the end of many of the sections. Not surprisingly, there is not much meat to the tools and techniques used to fill out the cells.

Given its size this volume was never going to be much more than a set of architect’s notes. But putting that aside and being impressed with it not giving into the temptation of becoming an IT architecture book, I have to be positive about this book. Small, concise and perhaps a little overawed by the concept of recursion this book tackles EA without falling for the IT trap.

This is a book as it says itself for chief officers, strategists and programme managers and I agree with that. This is not the book to start your collection with and probably isn’t that much use to the average IT focused corporate architect. And frankly it’s a bit pricey for what it is. But, is it worth a slot in your EA library? I’d have to give it a reserved yes. Not wishing to damn it with faint praise, it is what it is.

Graves, Tom (2008), Real Enterprise Architecture, Tetradian Books, Colchester

ISBN 978-1-906681-00-5

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Beyond Software Architecture


Initially you’d have to question reviewing this book as an EA book at all; although some enterprise architects need to be reminded that ultimately EA is about software. This book is really aimed at software developers who want to market a product, in the authors own words, “single-user programs costing less than $50”. I’ve not read much in this space so I’m not that good a judge, but its seems a competent work to me.

Hohmann’s developers are not the typical corporate IT department software developers encountered in architecture books. But, here’s the EA angle, there are lessons to be learned from this market driven software development viewpoint.

Hohmann’s search for a winning solution constantly connects his software development strategy to business imperatives and it is this search for a greater context that makes this book worth a look. His thoughts on the forces that shape software architecture, “marketecture”, market maturity, usability, training, education, user communities, product releases, upgrading and patch management are as valid for an internal corporate audience as they are for the open market.

Not surprisingly the book spends some effort on the commercial issues of COTS software like licensing and business models which might help you understand your vendors better, but won’t be of much use to the average corporate architect.

This book is for small scale software developers who want to produce software that resonates with their target market. This is not an EA book, but having said that I’m of the firm belief that no one has a mortage on good ideas and that a good architect reads eclectically. So if you are involved with developing software either within your organization or for the general market then borrow a friends copy for the weekend.

Hohmann, Luke (2004) Beyond Software Architecture, Signature Series, Addison-Wesley, Boston

ISBN 0-20-177594-8

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Enterprise Architecture


This is an interesting book. In a curious way it is almost devoid of an underlying theory, something I’ve criticized many methods and books for and yet it maintains a cohesion that is difficult to fault.

This book is about models, decision and analysis techniques and that makes it quite a rare and useful volume. I am frequently dismayed by the poor analytical skills of architects that I encounter day to day. This book has the analysis process and its management as its central theme and manages to do it without becoming overly academic which is a bit of a triumph.

Think EA meets operations research and you’ll start to get a feel for a book dedicated to rational (no not the IBM brand) enterprise information systems management. This is EA as decision support for the CIO.

It discusses strategic issues like goal setting and decision alternatives and domain definition. It then takes these goals and breaks them down into properties and provides techniques for collecting evidence; a practice that isn’t as well developed as one would expect in many organizations.

The authors support this approach with a huge number of simple, but thought provoking models just the kind of thing you need to get you working on your problems. My favorite is the credibility of evidence model. There’s a section on intuitive EA assessment in which they manage to give the process a lot more structure and logic than the usual rubbish that passes for intuitive analysis. And the section on organizing for EA actually has more content than is apparent on first inspection. But you’ll have to work your way through the models. Based on COBIT the EA as a process approach reminds me a lot of Spewak and Hill with the same directness and perhaps a similar failing to grapple with social realities.

The book only credits two authors on the cover however I counted about adozen contributors. The writting is clear concise if somewhat bland typical “Euro Architecture” style, but at 300 pages not too hard a read. This is not the book to base your practice on, it’s not strong on governance or business integration. However, it is one of the best technique books you’ll find. This is the sort of book that you’ll reference more than read. Not a book for beginners or managers but obviously worth its place on your bookshelf.

Johnson, Pontus and Ekstedt Mathias (2007), Enterprise Architecture, Studentlitteratur AB, Lund,  Sweden

ISBN 978-91-44-02752-4

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