NATO Architecture Framework and ArchiMate: comparing Defence architecture drivers with Industry

Jun 18, 2018
Written by
Marc Lankhorst
Marc Lankhorst

NATO Architecture Framework and ArchiMate: comparing Defence architecture drivers with Industry

-Kevin Wallis (MOD ISS) & Marc Lankhorst (BiZZdesign) 

In this blog series, we want to update you on the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) use of the ArchiMate modelling language as described in the NATO Architecture Framework version 4, which was officially approved by the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Board (C3B) in January. The document states: “NAF v4 compliant architectures can be created using the following meta-models; The Open Group®’s ArchiMate® and the Object Management Group®’s Unified Architect Framework (UAF)® Domain Meta-Model (DMM)®.” In addition, the approved method for architecture is based on The Open Group’s TOGAF® framework.

Why was this decided and what does it mean for you?

In the first installment of this series, we want to discuss the convergence of drivers for architecture in defence and industry. We will also explain why this has led the UK MOD and other NATO countries to choose industry standards instead of defence-specific techniques, as was the case in the past. In the next instalments, we will discuss correspondences between the architecture practices in defence and the public sector, where we see a similar convergence. Finally, we will describe how ArchiMate 3 addresses the needs of defence and where more work needs to be done.

Drivers for defence

The original driver for EA in defence was interoperability (external coherence) between nations, rather than internal coherence. This is because all military operations since WW2 have been as part of a coalition – and so no one partner has control of the enterprise (for example, Bosnia and Afghanistan). This issue extends beyond the battlespace, however, as analysis has shown that UK MOD needs to be interoperable with every other UK government department, as well as partner nations and NATO. Of course, this interoperability between nations and organisations requires systems interoperability.

Defence operations, and thus definitions of ‘enterprise,’ are complex. Is the enterprise ‘just’ the organization? Is the enterprise the organisation plus key partners (Industry, other government departments, other nations)? Or is it every stakeholder? Does the enterprise include those stakeholders that are working against the strategic intent?

Because the driver was interoperability, the defence frameworks (DODAF, MODAF, DNDAF and earlier versions of NAF) were very system-centric. This was because architecting in defence was very tightly linked to system engineering through initiatives such as the UK MOD’s System of Systems Approach (SOSA). The use of architecting in defence applies not just to IT systems, but also to the physical world of ships, tanks, planes and weapons. Indeed, the practice of naval architecture dates back to the 18th century, while the standardization in weapons dates back a few millennia. Today, these two worlds have merged and practically every weapon is part of an information system that requires a blend of physical and information technology.

Drivers for industry

The main driver for enterprise architecture in industry was, and often still is, internal coherence within one organization, often with a focus on cost efficiency by avoiding redundancies. This requires interoperability between systems within the enterprise, as well as the standardization of various processes and systems. Nowadays, this focus is shifting from efficiency to agility in order to speed up change and time to market. This also requires interoperability in order to easily reuse and reconfigure elements.The physical world used to be less important in the EA discipline, in part because It was mainly practiced in large ‘information factories,’ for example in the government and financial sectors. This has changed because organizations based in the physical world, e.g. in manufacturing, logistics, retail or healthcare, are now also practicing EA. Moreover, the physical and informational worlds are coming together thanks to various computer-controlled devices and technologies, such as IoT or augmented reality.

Over the last two decades, we have also seen wider ecosystems become more important in architecture. Interoperability across organizations in value chains and networks is key in today’s world of deep supply chains and cross-company collaboration, and enterprise architecture does not stop at the borders of an organization anymore.

This complex web of cooperation has been the primary driver for EA in defence from the start, and the challenges that defence has had to deal with over the last decade are, as a result, increasingly relevant to the federated industry supply chain model.

From common drivers to common standards

Today, we are seeing a convergence of drivers in defence and industry. Both worlds are concerned with an ecosystem perspective and both deal with a blend of IT and physical technology.

Moreover, the defence world increasingly relies on commercial, off-the-shelf products, specifically in IT. Being able to use and reuse the vast amounts of architecture information available in the civil sector is therefore a major advantage of using common industry standards, such as ArchiMate, for architecture description.

In the next installment in this series, we will look at commonalities in the architecture practices in defence and the public sector. Stay tuned!

ALSO CHECK: NATO Architecture Framework & ArchiMate: Comparing Defence Architecture Practice with the Civil Sector