US legislation may be stopping us getting the best out of a move by software vendors to common standards.
That's the view of Vish Viswanathan, the regional representative of TOGAF, The Open Group’s Architectural Framework initiative. Viswanathan was speaking to an audience of software architects in Wellington last week.
TOGAF defines an “architectural framework” as a method for designing a set of building blocks for an IT system and fitting them together."Open" is a word heard most often of late to describe particular platforms which oppose "proprietary" thinking.
Viswanathan views things the other way around: that of encouraging interoperability between different suites of proprietary software and working towards a common shape and set of "best practice" principles in enterprise IT systems.
TOGAF does a yearly refresh of its design and the attendant tools. This year, with version 8, the emphasis is on “enterprise architecture”. This includes a broadening from a technical emphasis to a more complete view of the shape and processes of an enterprise, as well as a new focus on the methods of using the components of the architecture together.
Until now, Viswanathan says, TOGAF has put forward “a set of ingredients, rather than a cookbook”. The eighth version will include more on "method".
Many of the large vendors, including IBM and HP, but with the significant exception of Microsoft, are participants in TOGAF, and have worked towards interoperability of some of their applications and systems software within the common framework. The most mature of these efforts, Viswanathan says, are in directory administration, particularly LDAP, enterprise management (the Tivoli/CA Unicenter space), messaging and more recently management in mobile services.
But Viswanathan says US-based vendors can only go so far in their efforts to adhere to common standards, because of "very strict rules" about anti-comeptitive collusion among companies.
An important part of current TOGAF activity is the Active Loss Prevention Initiative, putting a broad organisational as well as technical focus on security and business continuity.
Australia and New Zealand organisations are well represented among the downloaders of TOGAF tools and documentation, says Viswanathan, but disappointingly, at live meetings of the organisation, he is often the only representative from the region.
TOGAF principles can be viewed, and software downloaded, at www.togaf.org or www.opengroup.org/togaf/