The Zachman Framework™

What is The Zachman Framework™? Click for the Official Concise Definition and new graphic:

Follow us on Twitter

Follow Zachman International on Twitter and get the latest news and specials.

Print The Framework

Log in and PRINT your personal, licensed, high-resolution copy of The Zachman Framework™.
No Cost!!!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014
The Zachman Framework™ Evolution Print E-mail


The Zachman Framework™ Evolution

By: John P. Zachman
April 2009

The Zachman Framework™ has evolved over time. While the fundamental concepts have not changed at all, refinements to the graphical representation in addition to more precise language embody what The Framework has become today. Here is a brief trip down its historical evolution...



1984: Never seen until now, this is the original Framework: Information Systems Architecture - A Framework by John A. Zachman. Created in June of 1984, this was a crude representation that John created himself of what would later be referred to as The Zachman Framework™. Notice it has only 3 Columns. While all 6 Columns did actually exist, John was nervous that people might not be able to fully appreciate (or be willing to accept) his thoughts, particularly since Enterprise Architecture hadn't been born yet and this was a Framework for INFORMATION SYSTEMS architecture.

Also notice, Column 1, Row 2 the Chen Diagram, Row 3 contains a Bachman Diagram and Row 4 has an IMS Root-Segment Diagram.



1984: This version of The Framework was created from John's original drawings by IBM graphics support that John used up until he retired from IBM in 1990. Notice the original title: Information Systems Architecture - A Framework. Also, notice the "diamond" in the Column 1, Row 2 Chen notation model. John would later remove this because this is a composite view of that particular cell. The "diamond" is a representation of a process (or verb) connecting two entities (or nouns), which violates the later developed fundamental Framework rule that cells can only contain primitive constructs, not composites (i.e.: no processes can be in that cell). This is a perfect example of what we would call a composite model today, not a primitive model.

Also notice the IDEF0 notations in Column 2, Rows 2 & 3. These are also a composite view because of the vertical arrows. These are not pure, primitive models.



1987: The original Framework for Information Systems Architecture. This is the original version published in the 1987 IBM Systems Journal. Notice that only the first 3 Columns made it in spite of all 6 existing. Most people had no concept of thinking "Enterprise-wide," as John would later coin. Since The Framework was originally published for I/S, there was no precedent set for thoughts about Organization (Column 4), Timing (Column 5) or Motivation (Column 6). Notice the composite model in Column 1, Row 2 as defined above in addition to some of the other notation changes.



1992: Still called A Framework for Information Systems Architecture in this 1992 IBM Systems Journal article, Enterprise Architecture was starting to gain a small amount of recognition based on John's ideas that strategy and information systems needed to be "engineered" enterprise-wide, not just "manufactured" by the I/S department. However, this Framework so revolutionized the I/S concept that existed at this time, that people began to refer to this Framework as, The Zachman Framework™.

This artist's rendition is fairly close to John's original graphic. Note that John added the words "Owner," "Designer," and "Builder" to Rows 2, 3 and 4 for clarification. John Sowa (co-author of the 1992 article) said, "Oh, we can call Row 1 'Planner,' and Row 5 'Sub-Contractor.'"

Also note that the models in Columns 4, 5 & 6 are all the same down the columns. The I/S community, at that time, did not have much experience or notations for the models in those Columns, so these are John's personal models that he used down each of the Rows.




1993: It was at this point that John decided to officially call The Zachman Framework™: Enterprise Architecture - A Framework. He'd been using the term "Enterprise Architecture" for some time and felt convinced that people would be more willing to accept his ideas about Enterprise-wide architecture as opposed to Information Systems Architecture.

This version is still a minor carry-over from the 1987 article since it is only 3 columns. John used only the first three columns when teaching about The Framework because of the dominant I/S perspective that still existed at this time.

Notice that in this version is the first to use the adjectives "Contextual," "Conceptual," "Logical," "Physical" and "Out-of Context" defining the Rows.

Column 2, Row 3 "Business Process Model" came from the 1990 book. Re-engineering the Corporation which popularized the words "Business Process."

There were some minor problems with this Framework which were actually rooted back from its inception. The first (noted earlier) is the use of the Chen Diagram in Column 1, Row 2. This is still a composite model - the diamond indicates a process (or verb). The Column 2, Rows 2 & 3 IDEF0 notation is also a composite model- the vertical arrows represent controls and mechanisms on the process model making it a composite model as well. Also notice the Column 1, Row 4 model (IMS Root-Segment) is a hierarchy, which is a problem because nothing can be normalized in a hierarchy. Each of these models were changed in later versions.

Also, notice the map in Column 3, Row 1 changed from a US map (1992 version) to a World map because of John's first seminar in Australia. This representation is a very inaccurate model because the map is an instantiation which belongs in Row 6 - see more detail about this below in the 2004 version.



1993: Several of John's friends from the Business Rules community persistently pressed him to talk about "The Other 3 Columns," because that is where the "Business Rules" were originally. This "version," while not widely distributed was part of John's lecture series on "What is Enterprise Architecture" as evidenced by the title of this version: Enterprise Architecture- The Other Three Columns.



2001: During this time, Enterprise Architecture was really gaining ground based on John's thoughts about the subject. Fully recognized as The Zachman Framework™, this version was very widely distributed and had many of the refinements from the previous 10 years of research.

In particular, notice the model in Column 1, Row 2 is no longer a Chen Diagram. Removal of the "diamond," or process (verb) made this model "primitive." Also, the controls and mechanisms (vertical arrows) were removed from the process models in Column 2, Rows 2 & 3.

As you can also see, while Row 6 existed, the Functioning Enterprise wasn't fully acknowledged as part of The Framework yet, but John was re-thinking this idea heavily. Without Row 6, people tend to embed instances in their architecture making it very inflexible. The instance (when embedded in the higher Rows) will bind things together. Proper nouns belong in Row 6 and generally mean you have in instance. Common nouns imply you have a set. Abstractions belong in the first five Rows- instances belong in Row 6 (i.e.: Stockholm can not be in Row 1 because it is an instance of capital cities. Stockholm belongs in Row 6, because it is the instantiation of the scoping context of capital cities which would be in Row 1).

In addition, to John's regret, he named Column 1 "Data," which he feels inaccurately continued to classify The Zachman Framework™ as a Framework for Information Systems despite having "Enterprise Architecture" titled across the top. In fact, most of the terminology in this Framework is I/S related while also containing quite a few adjectives which makes its directive less precise.




2002: Developed in 2002, this graphic was developed by Intervista Institute in Canada, whom we still work with extensively. This was a HUGE upgrade in aesthetics and graphic design. While this representation of The Framework was the most attractive aesthetically, it still contained Information Systems terminology, adjectives, a minimized Row 6 and the IDEF0 notation in Column 2, Row 2.

One significant improvement in this version however, is the use of the black to white gradient between the cells - which works its way down the columns. This gradient significantly emphasized that there is more going on with The Framework than just a matrix. This de-emphasized people's misperception that working your way down the columns is merely an increase in granularity. This is still a HUGE misconception about The Zachman Framework™ and the black to white gradient was an attempt to correct this fundamental misinterpretation. The movement down each column has nothing to do with granularity; it has everything to do with transformation.

This Framework illustration helped emphasize the Columns.



2003: Developed at roughly the same time period, this is probably the most widely distributed copy of The Zachman Framework™ because of its development during the time when ZIFA existed. Some of the ZIFA partners, other than John, were unsatisfied with the Intervista version (above) which was a more aesthetically pleasing version and showed Transformation black-to-white gradient banding down the Columns. The objection was related to the predominant Intervista advertising despite the ZIFA logo on the right. Therefore, they commissioned this version, which surprisingly reverted to the earlier graphic and that only had reference to ZIFA.

This Framework does have some significant shortcomings. It still contains I/S terminology, not the current Enterprise terminology, in addition to an extensive use of less-precise adjectives (which proliferates ambiguity in interpretation) and a minimized Row 6, even worse than the Intervista version above.

Most surprisingly however, notice that the IDEF0 notation made its way back into Column 2, Rows 2 & 3 which violated the fundamental rule of The Framework about no cell containing composite constructs. The vertical arrows make those processes dependent on some control or mechanism which destroys the primitive (or "Periodic Table") idea of The Framework. John had made this correction in his 2001 version above, but it unfortunately came back in this version.

In addition, the colors of Rows 2 and 3 became inverted.

Because of the colors of each Row, this Framework illustration emphasizes the Rows.



2003: Developed in 2003, this graphic was a minor variation of the graphic from 2002 (above), also developed by Intervista Institute in Canada. This representation is most certainly the most pleasing aesthetically.

The changes were minor from the previous version- it still contained Information Systems terminology, adjectives and a minimized Row 6. However, the most significant improvement in this version however, is the use of the gradient color banding across the Rows and down the Columns. This gradient color banding between each cell best illustrates the concepts of Integration (across the Rows) and Transformations (down the Columns) above all previous versions of The Framework.

Also, the IDEF0 notation was changed in Column 2, Row 2, in addition to the model in Column 5, Row 2 was changed to a "circular" icon which did not convey the idea of "event-cycle-event" very well and was subsequently changed.

This Framework illustration emphasized both the Rows and Columns.



2004: After significant research starting in 2001, this copy of The Zachman Framework™, also known as The Zachman Framework2™, was developed in 2004 and is fairly recognizable. The most notable changes are the migration away from I/S terminology to Enterprise Architecture terminology. The use of nouns also makes this version dramatically more precise, in addition to introducing the use of set theory because of the use of nouns. Each model is carefully defined, and a complete Row 6 wraps up the 6th phase of reification (the 2000 year old process for turning an abstract idea into reality: Identification-Row 1, Definition-Row 2, Representation-Row 3, Specification-Row 4, Configuration-Row 5 and Instantiation-Row 6), further proving The Framework's fundamental concept of abstraction, not granularity, in the transformation process down each column - an idea (or Scope-Row 1) has to go through 6 phases in order to reach reality (Operations-Row 6). It also forces architects to get embedded instances out of their architecture and make sure instances are only recorded in Row 6 (see 2001 version above). The Enterprise is comprised of Rows 1-6, Enterprise Architecture is comprised of Rows 1-5.

Also, this version further moved Enterprise Architecture out of the I/T domain and shifted it back into the business domain where John had originally intended. It depicts business architectural principles by clearly defining that the top three Rows deal with the business ideas, while the bottom three Rows deal with operations reality. This concept defines dramatically more practical ideas of Enterprise Architecture to executive management.

There is one small flaw with it however, the picture (or model) of the globe in Column 3, Row 1 (Network Identification) is grossly inaccurate. The inaccuracy is in the fact that the globe is a representation of a physical place, which is an instantiation (Row 6) of the scope (Row 1). The Row 1 models are all lists, not instances. If anything, the picture (or model) of the globe belongs in Row 6. While this was done as more of a tribute to the original Framework (see above), John was quick to point out this would lead to potential confusion in the Framework fundamental concept and was subsequently changed in the next version.



2008: This is the current and most accurate version of The Zachman Framework™ and is the version available at no cost to anyone who registers for The Zachman Framework™ Standards. As you can see, it is the purest graphical representation containing all the improvements in the evolution and research on Enterprise Architecture and The Zachman Framework™ over the last 10 years. This version's improvements include the removal of the globe model in Column 3, Row 1 (see above), no adjectives, precise noun names, Enterprise terminology, no I/S terminology, accurate models with no Instantiations other than in Row 6 and is the elaboration of both the Enterprise and Normative Zachman Frameworks™.

The terminology in the outside dark blue have been carefully selected to include names from the Enterprise and Normative Zachman Frameworks™, giving EXTREMELY precise meaning to The Enterprise Framework and Enterprise Architecture in general. The terminology in the previous version (above 2004) contains only language from the Enterprise Framework. As you can see with the current version, Enterprise Architecture is extremely well defined when coupled with the language from the Normative Zachman Framework™.

It is from this version that Enterprise Architecture Standards were definitively expressed and the idea of the Enterprise Architecture Ontology (theory of existence equal to the Periodic Table of Elements) could be realized.



2008: This is also the most current evolution of The Zachman Framework™developed and is the version handed out to anyone who attends the Complete MasterClass in the Zachman Certified™ – Enterprise Architect program, which makes this representation a bit of a collector's item because of it's limited availability through the Zachman Courses.

It is virtually no different than the previous representation, but is a bit special. This is John's personal elaboration of The Zachman Framework™ because of the color of the models in each Row. The models of The Framework actually would not contain colors, however John uses this particular version with color models as a teaching tool to re-enforce the idea that whatever the Owners have in mind (Row 2 - Business Concepts - Orange) is what is actually instantiated in the Enterprise (Row 6 - Operations Instance Classes - Orange).


Concluding Thoughts on Change

It is important to keep in mind that throughout this "Evolution," The Zachman Framework™ that you see today is NOT a new Framework- it is a new Framework graphic.

What has changed?

  • Column Names- Communications Interrogatives and Enterprise Manifestations
  • Row Names- Audience Contributor Roles
  • Cell Names- Removed "e.g.'s" Absolute names based on Schema
  • Row 6- Provision for Instances and Examples (to differentiate from Cell abstractions)
  • Meta Model relates every Row to Row 6 for traceability and alignment
  • Meta Entity Names- more precise and more business oriented
  • Cell graphic icons now have "e.g.'s"
  • Row 1 meta-entities are Mass nouns (Column Names)
  • Modeling objectives by Row (Identification, Definition, etc.)
  • No adjectives used in the Framework graphic
  • Dictionary definition for every word
  • Helping words to classify by Row
  • Every Framework graphic is generated from the Repository metamodel (one authorized, consistent source for every Framework graphic (no unauthorized variations) ... however, with provision for "certified" local elaborations).
  • Personalized, personal-use, licensed, high-resolution versions available at no cost by registering for the Standards.
What had NOT changed?
  • The Framework Theory
    • All descriptive representations can be expressed in terms of Things and Relationships (i.e.: Thing-Relationship-Thing Models).
  • The Logic of The Framework
    • A two-dimensional classification system- a "schema"
      • Communication Interrogatives (What, How, Where, Who, When and Why)
      • Reification Transformations (Identification, Definition, Representation, Specification, Configuration, Instantiation)
    • Each intersection (Cell) is a unique, independent variable (Class, Abstraction)- a "normalized" structure, one (meta) fact in one Cell
    • The Cell context defines the meaning of the Enterprise Models' words
    • The two-dimensional schema is depicted in matrix form
  • Each "Primitive" Cell Model has two meta (meta, meta) entities- a "Thing" and a "Relationship"
  • Comprehensive and Complete
    • The Classification on both axes is comprehensive and complete- therefore, the intersections (Cells) have to be comprehensive and complete
The Zachman Framework™ is a classification theory about the nature of an Enterprise and the kinds of "Things" (entities) that have existence in an Enterprise. Therefore, The Framework is the ENTERPRISE ONTOLOGY.
© April 2009 John P. Zachman, Zachman International, Inc