Like many ArchiMate modelers, I got my start with the Archi free and open-source tool, which I have been enjoying for many years. It is ideal for learning ArchiMate and fully exploiting its capabilities. Furthermore, with its innovative core features and plug-ins, Archi can be used for sophisticated and collaborative ArchiMate modeling efforts that exchange data with other modeling and enterprise technology management tools such as service and process managers and configuration management databases. Therefore, I wholeheartedly recommend Archi for organizations that are starting out with enterprise architecture (EA) modeling and have consequently helped several organizations improve their Archi use.
However, many organizations have more complex modeling needs, and need a commercial multi-language tool (CMLT) with repository management capabilities. These organizations may want to link ArchiMate model elements, views, or entire models to corresponding artifacts in UML, BPMN or other languages. The ArchiMate language is in fact designed to provide an enterprise view that bridges more detailed and specialized work in languages for modeling technical and socio-technical systems of all stripes.
The process of migrating from Archi to a CMLT begins with planning for and selecting the tool, and may never end, since it may not be practical or even desirable to suppress Archi use in many organizations. Here, then, are some practices that I have found beneficial for this transition.
Define how the CMLT must support and integrate ArchiMate. Archi, since it is purpose-built for ArchiMate modeling exclusively, provides several unique extensions to the modeling experience, such as jArchi scripting, coArchi model versioning and collaboration, and the ability to present data on ArchiMate element icons and relationship connectors through a well-developed system of label expressions. Also, its command-line interface enables batch processing of model data, including exchange of data with other tools.
CMLTs, on the other hand, typically offer opportunities to link ArchiMate model elements and relationships to models in other languages. For example, an ArchiMate business process element can be linked to a BPMN swim lane diagram that details its operation, and a Serving relationship between an ArchiMate application component and an ArchiMate application interface can be linked to a UML sequence diagram that details how they interact. Also, many CMLTs provide views of ArchiMate models such as the catalogs and matrixes described in TOGAF specification. Migration planners should therefore specify CMLT requirements based on how Archi and ArchiMate are already being used as well as on opportunities to benefit from additional ArchiMate-related capabilities.
Choose a CMLT that is TOGAF and ArchiMate Certified by The Open Group or meets equivalent requirements. The ArchiMate language is aligned with the TOGAF framework for EA. Therefore, ArchiMate modelers are already using TOGAF concepts and methods even if they are not aware of them. Regardless of whether your organization is committed to TOGAF or using it explicitly, TOGAF certification is a reliable indicator of a tool that can support a wide range of EA activities. Here is The Open Group’s TOGAF 9 Tool Certification Register.
ArchiMate certification, on the other hand, is critical to ensuring that a CMLT faithfully implements the full ArchiMate language. Here is The Open Group’s ArchiMate Tool Certification Register. If you choose a tool without TOGAF or ArchiMate certification, perform extra due diligence before purchase to make sure it sufficiently supports The TOGAF framework and the ArchiMate language.
Test round-trip migration using the ArchiMate Model Exchange File Format. This XML-based format ensures that models can be exchanged reliably between tools, including Archi. However, since Archi adds certain non-standard features, migrated views may not look exactly like their Archi counterparts. Also, I have found that some inconsistencies in diagram layout can emerge as well. Therefore, evaluation of bidirectional migration between the CMLT and Archi should be part of the CMLT evaluation process.
Develop an internal style sheet that supports multi-tool ArchiMate modeling. The value of EA modeling is in the comprehension, abstraction, collaboration, informed decision making and alignment it facilitates. Realizing this value requires consistent modeling practices, including consistent naming of model concepts, consistent use of viewpoints, consistent methods of connecting ArchiMate models to other artifacts and data sources and regular review of key artifacts. A style sheet that guides the modeling community towards consistency is therefore particularly important as ArchiMate use matures from individual work to a CMLT that manages an enterprise repository.
Develop a round-trip process. Archi is the best tool I have encountered for learning ArchiMate, and even experienced modelers may be best served by copying models from the enterprise repository to individual or shared Archi environments, so they can experiment and innovate without concern for corrupting the enterprise repository. Therefore, the necessary tools and processes for locating content and transferring it from the enterprise repository to Archi-managed environments are important for skill-building and innovation.
Position the use of Archi and the CMLT. As mentioned earlier, Archi has advantages in accessibility to new modelers and overall ArchiMate-centricity that a CMLT is unlikely to match. Also, since Archi is a free tool, it can be used to expand the modeling community and demonstrate value prior to investing in additional CMLT licenses. On the other hand, supporting multiple tools with overlapping capabilities risks confusion and inconsistency. Organizations that plan to use a CMLT and Archi in tandem should therefore clearly position their uses.
Build a modeling community. The skill of ArchiMate modeling is best developed by formal training or study followed by plenty of constructive feedback in a supportive environment. Organizations that develop communities around ArchiMate or multi-language modeling therefore accelerate adoption and value realization.
Get the help you need. Many organizations do not have the expertise or resources at hand to select and implement a CMLT, build and sustain a modeling community or otherwise mature their EA capabilities. Consulting and training organization like EA Principals with broad and deep experience in all aspects of EA can often make the difference between a successful EA capability maturation project and one that fizzles out.
Migration from Archi to a CMLT works best when it is carefully planned, resourced and executed. Successful organizations can realize the benefits of an integrated modeling environment for sophisticated, multi-language models along with the benefits of Archi for ArchiMate learning and focus.
Authored by Iver Band, Senior Instructor and ArchiMate Expert