As of 2005, the Department of Defense employed over 3 million uniformed and civilian people and it had a combined $400 billion fiscal budget (Coffee, 2005). The war-fighting arm of the government has had enormous buying power since the cold war and the complexity of technologies used in military situations continues to increase. To make the most optimal use of its dollars spent, reduce rework and delays in delivery of complex solutions, the DoD needed to standardize the way providers described and documented their systems. The DoD also needed to promote and enhance the reuse of existing, proven architectures for new solutions. The Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF) is used to document architectures of systems used within the branches of the Department of Defense. “The DoDAF provides the guidance and rules for developing, representing, and understanding architectures based on a common denominator across DoD, Joint, and multinational boundaries.” (DODAF1, 2007).

DoDAF has roots in other enterprise architecture frameworks such as Zachman Framework for Information System Architecture (Zachman, 1987) and Scott Bernard’s EA-Cubed framework described in (Bernard, 2005). Zachman and Bernard’s architecture frameworks have been largely adopted by business organizations to document IT architectures and corporate information enterprises. Private sector businesses supplying solutions to the DoD must use the DoDAF to document the architectures of those systems. These suppliers may not be applying concepts of enterprise architecture to their own business, or they may be applying a different framework internally with an established history of use in the business IT sector. The rigor defined in DoDAF version 1.5 is intended for documenting war fighting and business architectures within the Department of Defense. The comprehensive nature of DoDAF including the required views, strategic guidance, and data exchange format also makes it applicable to business environments. For those organizations in the private sector that must use the DoDAF to document their deliverables to the DoD, it makes sense to approach adoption of DoDAF in a holistic manner and extend the use of DoDAF into their own organization if they intend to adopt any enterprise architecture framework for this purpose.

The Department of Defense Architecture Framework is the successor to C4ISR. “The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Architecture Framework v1.0 was created in response to the passage of the Clinger-Cohen Act and addressed in the 1995 Deputy Secretary of Defense directive that a DoD-wide effort be undertaken to define and develop a better means and process for ensuring that C4ISR capabilities were interoperable and met the needs of the war fighter.” (DODAF1, 2007). In October 2003, DoDAF Version 1.0 was released and replaced the C4ISR framework. Version 1.5 of DoDAF was released in April of 2007. DoDAF solves several problems with the acquisition and ongoing operations of branches within the Department of Defense. Primarily it serves to reduce the amount of misinterpretation in both directions of communication by system suppliers outside of the DoD and consumers within the DoD. The DoDAF defines a common language in the form of architectural views for evaluating the same solution from multiple vendors. The framework is regularly refined through committee and supports the notion of top-down architecture that is driven from a conceptual viewpoint down to the technical implementation.

Version 1.5 of DoDAF includes transitional improvements to support the DoD’s Net-Centric vision. “[Net-Centric Warfare] focuses on generating combat power from the effective linking or networking of the war fighting enterprise, and making essential information available to authenticated, authorized users when and where they need it.” (DODAF1, 2007). The Net-Centric Warfare initiative defines simple guidance within DoDAF 1.5 to support the vision of the initiative and guide qualities of the architecture under proposal. The guidance provided within DoDAF includes a shift toward a Services-Oriented Architecture, which we often read about in relationship to the business sector. It also encourages architectures to accommodate unexpected but authorized users of the system. This is related to scaling the solution and loose coupling of system components used in communication of data. Finally, the Net-Centric guidance encourages the use of open standards and protocols such as established vocabularies, taxonomies of data, and data interchange standards. These capabilities will help promote integrating systems into larger, more information intensive solutions. As this paper is written, Version 2.0 of DoDAF is being developed. There is currently no timeline defined for release.

DoDAF defines a layered set of views of a system architecture. The view progress from conceptual to technical. Additionally a standards view containing process, technical, and quality requirements constrain the system being described. The topmost level of view is the All Views. This view contains the AV-1 product description and the AV-2 integrated dictionary. AV-1 can be thought of as the executive summary of the system’s architecture. It is the strategic plan that defines the problem space and vision for the solution. The AV-2 is the project glossary. It is refined throughout the life of the system as terminology is enhanced or expanded. The next level of view is the Operational Views. This level can be thought of as the business and data layer of the DoDAF framework. The artifacts captured within this view include process descriptions, data models, state transition diagrams of significant elements, and inter-component dependencies. Data interchange requirements and capabilities are defined within this view. Example artifacts from the operational view include the High-Level Operational Concept Graphic (OV-1), Operational Node Connectivity Description (OV-2), and Operational Activity Model (OV-5). The third level of views of Systems and Services View. This view describes technical communications and data interchange capabilities. This level of the architecture is where network services (SOA) are documented. Physical technical aspects of the system are described in this level as well, including those components of the system that have a geographical requirement. Some artifacts from the Systems and Services View include Systems/Services Interface Description (SV-1), Systems/Services Communications Description (SV-2), Systems/Services Data Exchange Matrix (SV-6), and Physical Schema (SV-11).

DoDAF shares many of the beneficial qualities of other IT and enterprise architecture frameworks. A unique strength of DoDAF is the requirement of a glossary as a top-level artifact in describing the architecture of a system. (RATL1, 2006). Almost in tandem with trends in the business IT environment toward Service-Oriented Architectures, DoDAF 1.5 has shifted more focus to a data-centric approach and network presence in the Net-Centric Warfare initiative. This shift is motivated by the need to share operational information with internal and external participants who are actors in the system. This need is also motivated by the desire to assemble and reuse larger systems-level components to build more complex war fighting solutions. As with other frameworks, DoDAF’s primary strength is in the prescription of a common set of views to compare capabilities of similar systems. The views enable objective comparisons between two different systems that intend to provide the same solution. The views enable faster understanding and integration of systems delivered from provider to consumer. The view also allows for cataloging and assembling potentially compatible systems into new solutions perhaps unforeseen by the original provider. The DoDAF view can effect a reduction of deployment costs and lower possibility of reinventing the same system due to lack of awareness about existing solutions. A final unique strength of DoDAF is that it defines a format for data exchange between repositories and tools used in manipulating the architectural artifacts. The (DODAF2, 2007) specification defines with each view the data interchange requirements and format to be used when exporting the data into the common format. This inclusion in the framework supports the other strengths, most importantly automation of discovery and reuse of existing architectures.

Some weaknesses of DoDAF can be found when it is applied outside of its intended domain. Foremost, DoDAF was not designed as a holistic, all encompassing enterprise architecture framework. DoDAF does not capture the business and technical architecture of the entire Department of Defense. Instead it captures the architectures of systems (process and technical) that support the operations and strategy of the DoD. This means there may be yet another level of enterprise view that relates the many DoDAF-documented systems within the DoD into a unified view of participating components. This is not a permanent limitation of the DoDAF itself, but a choice of initial direction and maximum impact in the early stages of its maturity. The focus of DoDAF today is to document architectures of complex systems that participate in the overall wartime and business operations of the Department of Defense. A final weakness of DoDAF is the lack of business-financial artifacts such as a business plan, investment plan and return-on-investment plan.

It is the author’s observation that the learning curve for Zachman is potentially smaller than DoDAF. Zachman’s basic IS architecture framework method is captured in a single paper of less than 30 pages, while the DoDAF specification spans several volumes and exceeds 300 pages. Zachman’s concept of a two-dimensional grid with cells for specific subjects of documentation and models is easier for an introduction to enterprise architecture. It has historically been developed and applied in business information technology situations. Zachman’s experience in sales and marketing at IBM motivated him to develop a standardized IS documentation method. There are more commonalities than differences in the artifacts used in both DoDAF and Zachman methods. Zachman does not explicitly recommend a Concept of Operations Scenario, which is an abstract flow of events, a cartoon board, or artistic rendering of the problem space and desired outcome. This does not mean a CONOPS (Bernard, 2005) view could not be developed for a Zachman documentation effort. Business process modeling, use-case modeling, and state transition modeling are all part of DoDAF, Zachman, and Bernard’s EA-cubed frameworks. (Bernard, 2005).

The EA-cubed framework developed by Scott A. Bernard was heavily influenced by Zachman’s Framework for Information Systems Architecture. Bernard scaled the grid idea to support enterprise architecture for multiple lines of business with more detail than was possible with a two-dimensional grid. The EA-cubed framework uses a grid similar to Zachman’s with an additional dimension of depth. The extra dimension allows each line of business within the enterprise to have its own two-dimensional grid to document their business and IT architecture. Cross-cutting through the cube allow architects to identify potentially common components to all lines of business - a way to optimize cost and reduce redundant business processes and IT systems. The EA-cubed framework includes business-oriented artifacts for the business plan, investment case, ROI, and product impact of architecture development. As mentioned above, DoDAF does not include many business-specific artifacts, specifically those dealing with financials. Both Zachman and EA-cubed have more layers and recommended artifacts than DoDAF. EA-cubed has specific artifacts for physical network level and security crosscutting components, as an example. The Systems and Services view of DoDAF recommends a Physical Schema artifact to capture this information if needed. In the case of DoDAF, vendors may not know in advance the physical communication medium deployed with their system such as satellite, microwave or wired networks. In these cases, the Net-Centric Warfare guidance within DoDAF encourages the support of open protocols and data representation standards.

DoDAF is not a good starting point for beginners to enterprise architecture concepts. The bulk of the volumes of the specification can be intimidating to digest and understand without clear examples and case studies to reference. Searching for material on Zachman on the Internet produces volumes of information, case studies, extensions and tutorials on the topic. DoDAF was not designed as a business enterprise architecture framework. The forces driving its development include standardizing documentation of systems proposed or acquired through vendors, enabling reuse of existing, proven architectures, and reduce time to deploy systems-of-systems built from cataloged systems already available. Many of the documentation artifacts that Zachman and EA-cubed include in their frameworks are also prescribed in DoDAF, with different formal names but essentially the same semantics. The framework recommends more conceptual-level artifacts than Zachman. This could be attributed to the number of stakeholders involved in deciding if a solution meets the need. DoDAF includes a requirement for glossary and provides architectural guidance with each view based on current DoD strategy. Much of the guidance provided in DoDAF is directly applicable to the business world. The Net-Centric Warfare strategy, which is discussed in within the guidance, is similar to the Service-Oriented Architecture shift happening now in the private sector. Lack of business-strategic artifacts such as business plan, investment plan, and ROI estimates would force an organization to supplement prescribed DoDAF artifacts with several of their own or from another framework.

The Department of Defense Architecture Framework was designed to assist in the acquisition of systems from suppliers. There are many point-in-time similarities between Zachman and DoDAF in terms of DoDAF’s level of refinement for use with large enterprises. DoDAF could potentially benefit from a similar approach as Bernard’s, in that the flat tabular view is scaled up with depth. A extension of DoDAF with a third dimension could be used to document the architectures of multiple lines of business within an enterprise with more detail than is possible with a single artifact set. With minor enhancements, the DoDAF is a viable candidate for business enterprise architecture efforts.


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