I have seen innumerable organizations struggling regarding their selection of an Enterprise Architecture (EA) tool. There are many tools that include the essential capabilities of helping an EA team do impact and what-if analyses through the use of an associated or included EA repository. But the price of such tools can easily run to a minimum purchase of about $250,000 for ten users for one year. What about all the other architects of various domain expertise, program/project managers, EA sponsors, etc.? Well, they are generally left with no direct access to the information in the repository and so there is a bottleneck in the flow of EA information that could be invaluable for major decision making.
 
But the price for the few licenses generally have to be very high in order to sustain the EA tool vendor since the target audience for such power tools is very small and the competition is significant. 
 
All this said, I'm a firm believer in pursuing an Architecture Tool Ecosystem strategy for the get-go, rather than to expect that a single tool will provide all you need in a complex organization with many partners needing to collaborate in the decision making processes about transformation, the entire life cycle of it.
 
Recently, I spoke with the Chief Architect at Fedex and he specifically said that to discuss EA at Fedex, one must think of the Fedex Architecture Ecosystem, which is clearly a vast and complex one. He knows no single tool is going to help them do all they need to do to support the kind of information sharing and collaborative decision making that is essential for them. Our conversation, though, was more about how to tackle Agile Business Architecture with an ecosystem perspective.
 
A German company I know well, MID (mid.de) has a suite of tools that integrate well with several other tools, thereby in one case, that of the Swiss government, they essentially provide the architecture modeling ecosystem.
 
A tool that hundreds of thousands more architects are aware of is Sparx Enterprise Architect. It is a complex tool if all you purchase is the very inexpensive perpetual license, as little as $10,000 for 10 users, versus the $250,000 just noted for a couple of its competitors. Part of the complexity of Sparx EA is the need to link it to an organization's database as a repository. This is often a daunting challenge because of all the hoops one may need to go through to select the database and then to actually complete the setup to be up and running. Often purchasers of the software (there are over 850,000 worldwide) end up using it only on a client device and therefore not being able to do higher-level analyses or collaboration.
 
To address this issue, a former Sparx EA programmer invented Prolaborate as a rich add-on to Sparx to make collaboration and analysis more available to a much wider user base, thus potentially having more impact that will increase over time with a well-configured installation to a database and using the Cloud. This has been a game changer, has noted in the following article:
 
 
In addition, one can view several excellent videos on prolaborate at the following URL:
 
 
Recently, a new addition to the Sparx EA Ecosystem has been developed that is uniquely remarkable. It is addressed to provide one using Sparx EA and Prolaborate with a whole set of new capabilities running from strategy to coding and connecting 14 different standards. The tool, Labnaf, can also translate from any standard into the Labnaf Framework/standard modeling language and vice-versa. The programmers know that a full suite of capabilities are needed to do full life-cycle transformation leveraging Enterprise Architecture. So they built them in. They are spearheading the move toward providing a complete Architecture Ecosystem for the advanced architecture work for a price far below that of some of the leading tools besides Sparx EA. 
 
In short, one can greatly expand one's end-to-end capabilities in an integrated environment that can link a whole enterprise together for as little as about $25,000/year. This is really, in my view, incredibly good news for organizations still trying to select an expensive tool that is not nearly as capable as the new  Sparx EA Ecosystem enabled by Prolaborate and Labnaf. See 
https://www.labnaf.one/ for more information, especially the detailed list of features at https://www.labnaf.one/ln-content/products/Labnaf%20Features.pdf .
 
Trust me, you will be blown away by the list of features. But how to get started with this new paradigm? EA Principals is not only a champion, but also a distributor who can also supply the expertise at a reasonable price to get everything set up from scratch and to conduct Sparx EA, Prolaborate, and Labnaf training, also at a reasonable price, especially at the front end of getting this capability out to the hundreds of thousands of clients already using Sparx EA, but also the hundreds of thousands more who should now consider the Sparx EA Ecosystem as described in this article. 
 
In conclusion, we endorse a number of great EA tools, but what we are suggesting here is that one needs the vision that Labnaf has brought by adding "brains" to the Sparx EA/Prolaborate foundation and at a price for which the question of ROI is truly a "no brainer." In fact, we can even help you develop the business case at a nominal cost through an excellent tool we have that many large organizations, such as Microsoft, also use: sharkfiness (sharkfinesse.com).
 
Work with us to break through to the next generation of architecture tooling by embracing the Architecture Tool Ecosystem philosophy so well explained at Labnaf, core partners for EA Principals to spearhead the move toward easier to use and more ubiquitous architecture tool access in a way that can support the whole enterprise in an end-to-end process, no matter what tool you may currently use.
 
Authored by Dr. Steve Else, Chief Architect & Principal Instructor

 

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