Book Pick: The Zachman Framework Revisited

The Pagoda blueprint revisits the Zachman framework in order to align Enterprise Architecture with physical (bottom) and business (top) environments

Excerpt from Enterprise Architecture Fundamentals, available on:


Clarity and concision are arguably the main strengths of the Zachman architecture framework, exemplified by its tabulated presentation crossing six columns and five lines:

  • Columns are set according to the traditional distinction between roles (who), objects (what), activities (how), locations (where), timing (when), and motivation (why).
  • Lines are set along enterprise layers (business concepts and organization, systems functions and logic, engineering and technologies), with contexts added above and operations below.
  • Cells are aligned with established stereotypes, as defined in chapter 3.

Figure 6-1. Stereotyped Zachman Lines & Columns

Yet, despite the soundness of the concepts, the tabular arrangement comes with some discrepancies, as it mixes architectural artifacts (lines 2–4 and columns 1–5) with contexts, instances (Operations), and purposes (Why).

This should not be problematic for the top and bottom lines, as they make room for new developments with regard to business intelligence (top) and digital environments (bottom).

However, the same cannot be said for the sixth column. Contrary to the other five, which characterize capabilities, the sixth is meant to deal with objectives, which are arguably better understood and managed when defined for capabilities (columns) than for layers (lines).

A straightforward graphical translation that substitutes pentagons for lines can redress the presentation of the core architecture’s backbone without affecting its semantics (see figure 6-2) .

Figure 6-2. Graphical Translation of the Zachman Framework 

This neutral transformation, congruent with broadly accepted views of systems architecture, could have secured a sound extension of the Zachman framework to enterprise architecture by using the contexts and operations lines as bridges to business and digital environments, respectively. But that transformation has been preempted by a functional misrepresentation.


(From Chapter 6)