Architecture levels and other things to know about the TOGAF standard

Copyright 2017 Graham Berrisford. One of about 300 papers at Last updated 01/11/2017 08:56

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This is one of several popular papers on the TOGAF standard that are posted on the home page at

Some equate the framework with Enterprise Architecture (EA).

Do your customers presume that EA is “doing TOGAF”?

This paper may help you educate them in how the framework decoupled itself from EA.

“Great paper on TOGAF vs EA. Have shared it with my colleagues” Linkedin member


EA and the TOGAF standard. 1

Five levels of architecture (yes five) 2

Service-oriented architecture development principles. 4

System theory concepts in architecture frameworks. 5

The history of the TOGAF standard. 6

The seven parts of the framework. 8

How the framework is written. 12

References and further reading. 12

Footnote. 12


EA and the TOGAF standard

People use the term EA with a variety of meanings.

So to begin with, here are three brief observations on what might be called mainstream EA.


First, EA is not executive level business planning; rather, EA is business system planning.

EA supports strategic business planning, and sometimes, the two go hand in hand, but not always.


Second, an EA team is not solely responsible for transforming or changing business systems.

It must work in coordination with business planning, project management and IT services/operations management.


Third, EA is more than managing a portfolio of discrete or silo systems or projects.

Historically, EA started as a reaction to the costs, risks and issues created by silo systems.

“Enterprise-level architecture is required to constrain the [system] design and development activity.” Zachman 1982

It is about cross-organisational optimisation, integration and standardisation of business systems (Ross, Weill and Robertson, 2006 reference).


Today, the TOGAF standard is a management framework for what it calls "architecture projects".

Each is an architecture-intensive project to design, plan and govern changes to one or more business systems.

The framework can be used in a way that supports and enables the work of enterprise architects.

However, using it as a framework for a discrete solution delivery project does not make you an enterprise architect.


While the framework is not EA, it is certainly relevant to EA.

Both are concerned to address the benefits, costs and risks of changing business systems and IT-related work.

The framework urges you to relate all business system change plans back to executive-level business goals, drivers and strategy.

Five levels of architecture (yes five)

Running a class for an EA team of five, it turned out three of them had previously attended a different, soporific, course in the TOGAF standard.

We began by discussing and agreeing: it provides a management framework for “architecture projects” at whatever level you choose to do them.

Version 9.1 of the standard divides architecture into five levels, as shown in the table below.

Comparing the levels discussed in different chapters, the distinctions drawn between them are roughly but not exactly consistent.



Architect Roles as defined in chapter 52


Architecture Landscape as defined in chapters 3, 20 and 41

A longer interpretation of the roles at different levels



Enterprise architect: works at a landscape and technical reference model level.

Focuses on enterprise-level business functions required.

Often leads a group of Segment Architects/Solution Architects related to a given program.


A summary formal description of the enterprise.

An executive-level, long-term view.

Enterprise architects work at the cross-organisational and strategic level:

   are concerned to optimise, standardise and integrate business systems,

   maintain a summary description of the enterprise and its system,

   maintain standards, principles, reference models and patterns,

   develop roadmaps for change at a strategic, executive-level,

   govern architects working at lower levels.



Segment architect: works on specific business problems or for a specific organization.

Focuses on enterprise-level business solutions in a given domain.


A detailed, formal description of an area within an enterprise.

Architecture roadmaps at a program or portfolio level.

Segment architects work for a division or domain of an organization:

   act as enterprise architects for the portfolio of solutions/systems in their business area,

   maintain a description of their division or domain and its systems,

   develop roadmaps for change at a portfolio or program or level,

   govern architects working at lower levels.



Solution architect: works on a system or subsystem.

Focuses on system technology solutions


A description of a discrete and focused business operation or activity, supported by IS/IT.

Typically applies to a single project or project release.

Solution architects shape a solution and join up the technical specialists who work on it:

   address the problems and requirements of a particular business operation,

   work to deliver a new or changed system using particular information technologies,

   guide projects managers as to the time, cost and risks of project-level work,

   maintain descriptions at the solution outline or high-level design level,

   develop roadmaps for change at a project or release level,

   govern project work (designers, technical specialists, developers, builders and configurers).



A highly detailed description of the architectural approach.

to realize a particular solution or solution aspect.

Architecture roadmaps realizing capability increments.

How the enterprise can support a particular unit of capability.

Allow for individual work packages and projects to be grouped.

Designers and technical specialists complete detailed designs.

Guide those who develop, build, configure and deploy systems.



A discrete portion of a capability architecture that delivers specific value.

Work package?


On architecture at the SA level

The term solution architecture has been used for several decades.

It has long been embedded in the Skills Framework for the Information Age, and it is the level at which the ADM is often applied.

For discussion differentiating EA from SA, read Enterprise and Solution Architecture.


On architecture at the EA level

The purpose of mainstream EA has always been to optimise and improve core business processes.

“An EA establishes the Agency-wide roadmap to achieve an Agency’s mission through optimal performance of its core business processes within an efficient IT environment.” (FEAF, 1999 reference).

“Companies excel because they've [decided] which processes they must execute well, and have implemented the IT systems to digitise those processes." (Ross, Weill and Robertson, 2006 reference).

The purpose of EA is to optimize across the enterprise the often fragmented legacy of processes (both manual and automated) into an integrated environment.” (TOGAF 9.1, 2009 reference)


EA emerged in the 1980s out of business system planning.

A solution architect’s vision usually has a relatively short time frame and narrow scope.

Enterprise architects take the broadest possible view, look to standardise, integrate and coordinate business systems across an enterprise.

They respond to the outputs of business planning, align system changes with them, and may influence them.


Business Planning

Business mission, vision, drivers, strategies, goals and top-level business plans.

Mergers, acquisitions, divestments, internal organisation restructurings and rationalisations.

Enterprise Architecture 

(Business Systems Planning)



Business functions/capabilities, roles, processes/value streams and their interrelationships.

The services they provide to each other and to entities in the business environment.

Information System


Applications and their interrelationships

The services applications provide to each other and to business activities.

Data stores and data flows, the data structures they contain and the qualities of that data.



Platform technologies and their interrelationships

The services technologies provide to each other and to business applications.


EA is challenging politically as well as technically.

The idea is to take a cross-organisational and strategic perspective of the architecture domains in the table above. 

To do this, architects need not only appropriate knowledge, skills and resources, but also cross-organisational authority.

Service-oriented architecture development principles

The two primary architecture deliverables (from phases B, C and D of TOGAF) are Architecture Building Blocks and Architecture Requirements Specification.

This division, between structural elements and required behaviors, appears in most system modelling standards, including UML, TOGAF and ArchiMate.


The UML standard - two premises of system modelling


The TOGAF standard – two primary architecture deliverable types

all behaviour [is] caused by actions executed by so-called active objects.”


Architecture Building Blocks (logical capabilities/functions/components) realised by Solution Building Blocks

behavioral semantics only deal with event-driven, or discrete, behaviors.”


Architecture Requirements Specification (inc. contracts for discrete services provided by building blocks).


The same division can be seen in three principles that are explicit or implicit in many chapters of TOGAF.

·         Principle 1: An enterprise architecture is composed of interoperating building blocks.

·         Principle 2: An enterprise architecture is an abstract/logical description of building blocks and their interactions.

·         Principle 3: The generic meta model is: required behaviors <are assigned to> logical building blocks <are realised by> physical building blocks.


The appearance and reappearance of these principles is what gives TOGAF coherence and consistency.

The "primacy of behaviour" principle says that the internal structure of a building block is secondary to its behaviors.

The building blocks are required to perform behaviors that deliver services or outputs of value to other building blocks and/or external entities.

Solution building blocks (actors/components of all kinds) are hired, bought or built to realise architecture building blocks, and so perform the required behaviors.


For a more detailed discussion of the three principles read Three principles that underpin TOGAF.


The TOGAF standard has always been thoroughly service-oriented.

All architecture domains and building blocks within them are defined by the services they offer.

The table below shows the terms used when abstracting services from building blocks.

Generic meta model

Generic entities




Required behaviors


Business Services

IS/Application Services

Platform/Technology Services


Building Blocks

Functions & Roles

Application Components

Technology Components

System theory concepts in architecture frameworks

A system is bounded - distinct from the world outside the system.
The boundary across which things flow is often logical rather than physical.

Nothing in the universe is a bounded system until it is named and described as such.
When you look for them, describable systems can be found everywhere, interrelated, nested and overlapping.

Every designed system has some structures that perform some behaviors to meet some aims.

A system can be described in terms of aims (why), behaviors (how and when), structures (who and what) and the locations where structures are found.

This table generalises how these concepts appear in frameworks like the TOGAF and NAF standards, and modelling languages like the ArchiMate and UML standards.

Business architecture concepts

General definitions


motivations for behavior

Goal or Objective

a target to be achieved, a motivation or reason to perform behaviors.


performances over time that change the state of a system or its environment


a discrete requestable behavior that produces a desired result (output or effect), and is definable in a contract.


a sequence of activities that leads to the provision of a service or other result.

Active structures

entities that perform behaviors


a logical subsystem, describable externally by services provided and internally by activities assignable to one or more organisation units.


a logical subsystem, describable externally by services provided and internally by activities assignable to one or more actors.

Organisation unit

a real world business division given the responsibility of fulfilling one or more logical functions.


a real world person or system given the responsibility of fulfilling one or more logical roles.

Passive structures

entities that are acted on

Physical entity

a concrete entity type that a business creates and/or uses in the course of performing behaviors.

Data entity

a record type that describes the attributes of a physical or logical entity or event, which is created and used in the course of performing behaviors.


a place in space where a structure can be found.


Aside: in UML, roles are called actors; in the ArchiMate standard, both people and organisation units are called actors; the table above separates people from organisations and roles.

And note that whereas a human actor is a unique biological individual, a software actor is a replicable logical individual.


This table classifies some core concepts in the TOGAF standard.

System theory

Come core concepts in the TOGAF standard

Levels of abstraction

Requirements, Logical components or ABBs, Physical components or SBBs.


Goal, Objective, Requirement


Service, Business service, Information system service, Platform technology service, Process, Scenario

Active structures

Function, Organisation Unit, Role, Actor, Application component, Technology component

Passive structures

Data Component, Data Entity, Location

The history of the TOGAF standard

EA had been discussed for about 20 years before the TOGAF standard was published.

Yet to begin with, the framework owed little or nothing to that EA history.


The Open Group’s vision is: “to achieve Boundaryless Information Flow™ through global interoperability in a secure, reliable and timely manner.”

Their mission is: “enabling access to integrated information within and between enterprises, based on open standards and global interoperability.”

They look to realise their vision and mission through the development of IT standards that make information systems portable and interoperable.


Version 1 to 7 – for IT architecture

The Clinger–Cohen Act, formerly the Information Technology Management Reform Act (ITMRA), is a 1996 United States federal law.

It was designed to improve the way the federal government acquires, uses and disposes information technology (IT).

It demanded that federal government CIOs maintain a “sound and integrated IT architecture repository”.

TOG members developed versions 1 to 7 of the framework as an approach based on using the Technical Reference Model (TRM) discussed below

So, it was then an enterprise technology architecture framework - sometimes called EITA, rather than EA.


Version 8 – the Enterprise Edition

Version 8 shifted its emphasis from technology architecture to business architecture.

This "Enterprise Edition" borrowed a great deal from the US government’s Federal EA Framework (1999).

FEAF declared its aims as:

·         “common data and business processes”

·         “information sharing” and

·         new and improved processes”.


Version 8 extended the service-oriented architecture development approach already used in version 1 to 7.

"TOGAF Version 8… uses the same underlying method for developing IT architectures that was evolved [in] TOGAF up to and including Version 7.

That method was to define a system or component, an architecture domain or layer, logically, by the services it provides.

Version 8 applies that… method to the other domains of an overall Enterprise Architecture - the Business Architecture, Data Architecture, and Application Architecture, as well”


Version 9 – a more flexible process

Version 9 shifted focus downwards from the EA level towards solution architecture.

Versions 1 to 7 had been enterprise-wide, but infrastructure technology-oriented.

Versions 8 and 9 had become more business-oriented, but also more project-oriented, with side bar references to EA.


The focus is now less on EA level work – portfolios, reference models, business function/capability definition etc.
TOGAF is centred on a process, the ADM, which is a management framework for "architecture projects" at any level you choose.

Potential products are described in a content framework and meta model - based on a service-oriented approach to system specification.

Many of the products fit solution architecture better than enterprise architecture.

Read Enterprise and Solution Architecture for discussion of the difference.


The latest version provides a management framework for architecting at high and low levels, but does not teach architecting.

The seven parts of the current standard are introduced below, with links to further observations.

The seven parts of the framework

This section has been trimmed back; it now gives links to another paper for those wanting more insights.

My qualifications to make observations include having taught the framework since version 8, and taught architects before that.

Part 1: Introduction

This first part introduces the context for architecture work, and defines core concepts.

It also promotes the “business operating model” principle (from “EA as Strategy”, 2006) of standardising and integrating processes across the enterprise.

 “Operating model” for core business processes

High integration



Low integration




Low standardisation

High standardisation


For more insights, read Observations on the 7 parts of the TOGAF standard.

Part 2: The Architecture Development Method (ADM)

The ADM is the core of the framework; it is a process for architecture-intensive work to design, plan and govern business systems.

It presents a menu of phases and activities in a rational sequence – outlined below.

You are expected to tailor the ADM process and meld it into your PMO processes.

ADM phase

Read as an architecture project management framework


Establish the capability to follow the ADM process from A to H (when a request for work arrives).

Requirements management

Capture and manage requirements (continuous)

A: Architecture vision

Conduct feasibility study, get stakeholder approval for work to be done.

B,C,D: Business, IS and Technology architectures

Logical design of business processes and roles, and supporting data, applications and infrastructure.

E: Opportunities and solutions

Identify and select between suppliers and technologies, and plan transition states

F: Migration planning

Plan projects to develop and deploy new/changed systems.

G: Implementation governance

Govern development and deployment projects.

H: Architecture change management

Govern system changes after deployment.


For more insights, read Observations on the 7 parts of the TOGAF standard.

Part 3: ADM guidelines and techniques


Ten techniques used during the ADM

Five of the techniques are management-oriented (stakeholder management, risk management, transformation readiness, gap analysis, migration planning).

Five are more architecture-oriented (principles, capability-based planning, business scenarios, patterns, interoperability).

But TOGAF does not teach architects how to do architecting!


Four guidelines for adapting the ADM

You are not expected to follow the ADM process in a strictly sequential fashion.

You tailor it, in concert with other methods your organisation uses.

There are four guidelines for modifying the use of and activities in the ADM.


·         Iterative ADM

·         Fractal ADM levels

·         Service-oriented ADM

·         Security-oriented ADM


For more insights, read Observations on the 7 parts of the TOGAF standard.

Part 4: Content framework (documented products)

The framework does not prescribe how you document architectures.

It does contain an extensive menu of products that may be produced by architects during the phases of the ADM.

There is also a meta model indicating how the elements of these products are related.


As I understand it, these three principles underpin TOGAF's content framework and its meta model.

1.      An enterprise is composed of interoperating building blocks (components, functions, organisation units, roles, actors, nodes).

2.      An enterprise architecture is an abstract (conceptual, logical) description of building blocks, their interactions and the services they provide.

3.      The generic meta model is: required behaviors <are assigned to> logical building blocks <are realised by> physical building blocks.


These principles, reasonably clear in TOGAF 7 and 8, were obscured in TOGAF 9.

However, the ADM does explain the principles in the following sections.

·         Application(s) architecture:

·         Technology architecture:  and  (These few sentences are the last vestige of TOGAF 7)

·         Business architecture: (TOGAF differentiates between the functions of a business and the services of a business.)


(Unfortunately, the rest of obscures rather than clarifies.)


In the table below…

·         The yellow-shaded boxes name core architecture entities in the TOGAF meta model.

·         The grey-shaded boxes name other concepts in the TOGAF content framework.

·         Most things in the same row connect to each other – left to right.

·         Most things in the same column connect to each other – up and down.


However, not all of the relationships (left and right, up and down) are clear in the standard text, and some are a little more complex.




Architecture requirement specification

Architecture definition document

Architecture roadmap

Enterprise repository

Requirements repository

Architecture repository

Solution repository

Enterprise continuum

Requirements and context

Architecture building blocks

Solution building blocks

Phases and domains


Required behaviors

Logical structures

Physical structures

Phase B

Business architecture


Business goal/objective



Business service


Organisation unit




Phase C

IS architecture

III reference model

IS (app) service

Logical application component

Physical application component



Data Entity

Physical data component

Logical data component

Phase D

Technology architecture

Technical reference model

Platform (technology) service

Logical technology component

Physical technology component


For more insights, read Observations on the 7 parts of the TOGAF standard.

Part 5: The enterprise continuum and repository

The enterprise repository is a data store that contains architecture definition building blocks and artifacts.

The enterprise continuum is merely a tabular structure for classifying architecture definition building blocks and artifacts.

In effect, it is a two-dimensional index to some of the repository content.


Enterprise Continuum

Buildings blocks

Enterprise Repository


and context








Common systems






Architecture BBs







Common systems






Solution BBs








For more insights, read Observations on the 7 parts of the TOGAF standard.

Part 6: The two reference models

“Enterprise-level architecture is required to constrain the [system] design and development activity.” Zachman 1982

A reference model is a general structure or pattern that helps to constrain or steer system design activity.


“EA is concerned with “system implementations, extending in scope and complexity to encompass an entire enterprise.” Zachman.

“EA regards… the enterprise as one system, or a system of systems” TOGAF 9.1

The two reference models help architects to treat an enterprise as one system.


·         The Information Infrastructure Reference Model (III-RM) is for cross-organisational integration of application components

·         The Technical Reference Model (TRM)is  for cross-organisational standardisation of technology components


For more insights, read Observations on the 7 parts of the TOGAF standard.

Part 7: Architecture capability (especially roles in governance)

This last part is about the roles of architects in an enterprise, especially in governance.

This table highlights core governance activities in the framework.

ADM phase

Core governance activities


Establish the architecture board and governance structure

A: Architecture vision

Produce a contract for B to F: The Statement of Architecture Work.

B to F (The architecture project)

G: Implementation governance

Govern development and deployment projects – to development contract

H: Architecture change management

Govern system changes after deployment – to business users contract


There is governance of architects by an architecture board.

There is governance by architects of system development/implementation and system change.


For more insights, read Observations on the 7 parts of the TOGAF standard.

How the framework is written

It is difficult to get to grips with the framework just by reading it.

Or by attending a course presented by a tutor who qualified by passing the certification exams.

It helps to understand the context for the framework and its evolution to date:

·         US legislation that directed CIOs to maintain an IT architecture repository.

·         US federal government guidance on what EA means.

·         The broad methodology history that the framework draws from.

·         Various systems analysis and design methods and architecture frameworks.

·         The Open Group, its mission, vision and service-oriented specification principles.

·         The processes by which the framework’s content is developed.


Nobody is employed to write the framework; you might say it is crowd-sourced.

Any architecture forum member can request a change or draft a contribution.

From that point to publication in the framework is a long and democratic process.


There is no director or editor you can press to address your special concern.

The framework’s scope is determined by what forum members choose to write about.

If you want to contribute, then join the forum.


The framework tends to lag behind the times; it does not anticipate trends or publish speculative practices.

It contains only what has been approved by enough forum members

As things stand, the refresh cycle takes several years (remember training courses and examinations have to be updated).


The framework is free to read!

The astonishing thing is not that the framework is flawed; it is that it is reasonably coherent and consistent.

References and further reading

Mainstream EA reference list

Enterprise and Solution Architecture: How do they differ?

TOGAF mapped to NATO Architecture Framework

TOGAF core concepts



A fuller version of text distilled in the table at the top of the paper.

TOGAF 9.1 Section








Provides an organizing framework for

Allows for

The development of effective


Enterprise or Strategic Architecture

A summary formal description of the enterprise

An executive-level, long-term view

operational and change activity

direction setting an executive level.


A long-term summary view of the entire enterprise.


Segment Architecture

A detailed, formal description of an area within an enterprise used at the program or portfolio level

operational and change activity

direction setting

architecture roadmaps at a program or portfolio level.

More detailed operating model for an area within an enterprise.

Solution architecture

A description of a discrete and focused business operation or activity

How IS/IT supports that operation. 

Typically applies to a single project or project release.





Capability Architecture

A highly detailed description of the architectural approach to realize a particular solution or solution aspect.

change activity


architecture roadmaps realizing capability increments.

In a more detailed fashion how the enterprise can support a particular unit of capability.

Provide an overview of current capability, target capability, and capability increments

Allow for individual work packages and projects to be grouped within managed portfolios and programs.

Capability Increment

A discrete portion of a capability architecture that delivers specific value.







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